- Associated Press
Monday, March 29, 2021

TOKYO (AP) - Japanese Foreign Minister Toshimitsu Motegi denounced Myanmar’s escalating crackdown on pro-democracy protests in talks Monday with his Indonesian counterpart, who is visiting Tokyo for security discussions focusing on China‘s growing assertiveness in regional seas.

Motegi “strongly criticized” the growing military crackdown on civilian protesters in Myanmar, and welcomed efforts by the Association of Southeast Asian Nations to respond to it, his ministry said in a statement.

Motegi and Indonesian Foreign Minister Retno Marsudi, who have discussed the Myanmar situation twice by phone since the Feb. 1 military coup in that country, agreed Monday to cooperate closely to improve the situation there, the ministry said.

The military government’s violent crackdown has escalated in recent days. At least 114 people, including several children, were killed by security forces on Saturday alone. The toll prompted a U.N. human rights expert to accuse the junta of committing “mass murder” and criticize the international community for not doing enough to stop it.

Japan has not joined the United States and some other Western nations in imposing sanctions on Myanmar, but has stepped up verbal protests.

Chief Cabinet Secretary Katsunobu Kato on Monday said the Japanese government will study “measures that would be effective in calming down the situation and restoring democratic systems.”

The two foreign ministers are to join defense ministers from the two countries for “2 plus 2” security talks in Tokyo on Tuesday.

They also shared “grave concern” about Chinese attempts to change the status quo in the East and South China seas, the ministry said.

Japan, which has a territorial dispute with China over a cluster of East China Sea islands, sees China as a security threat and is discussing the stepping up of military cooperation with Indonesia and signing of an arms and technology transfer agreement.

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