Speaking at the reception to welcome senior military officers from Myanmar at Hotel New Otani in Tokyo on August 23, 2019.
We wholeheartedly welcomed 10 senior military officers from Myanmar who visited Japan from August 23 to September 3 as part of The Nippon Foundation’s Japan-Myanmar Military Officers Exchange Program.
At a reception held at Hotel New Otani in Tokyo on August 23, I told some 60 attendants from both countries that The Nippon Foundation has been engaged in mediating between the Myanmar government and armed ethnic minority groups, who have been feuding for the past seven decades.
I said that the foundation has so far arranged a total of 95 meetings with the Myanmar military and other stakeholders, expressing my hope that these efforts will be a positive step toward eventually achieving national reconciliation.
In response, the head of the Myanmar delegation, Lieutenant General Than Tun Oo, commander of No. 6 Bureau of Special Operations, Myanmar Defence Services, expressed his country’s gratitude for the foundation’s wholeheartedpeace efforts, adding that delegation members will make the best use of what they learn from the visit.
I was speaking in my capacity as the chairman of The Nippon Foundation and the special envoy of the Government of Japan for National Reconciliation in Myanmar.
Earlier in that day, the Myanmar delegation paid a courtesy call on then Defense Minister Takeshi Iwaya, who was later succeeded by Taro Kono, former foreign minister, in the Cabinet reshuffle on September 11.
This was the sixth group of senior military officers from Myanmar to visit Japan under theprogram that The Nippon Foundation launched in 2014 in cooperation with the Japanese Defense Ministry. The aim is to promote mutual trust between the Japan Self-Defense Forces and Myanmar’s military and familiarize the latter with the role of the military under a civilian government.
During the 12-day visit, the delegation traveled to Shizuoka Prefecture, central Japan, to observe the Fuji Firepower Review 2019 at the East Fuji Maneuver Area and tour the Air SDF’s Hamamatsu Air Base and to Hiroshima Prefecture, western Japan, to tour the Ground SDF’s Camp Kaitaichi and the Maritime SDF’S Kure and Etajima naval bases.
They also made a trip to the Hiroshima Peace Memorial Museum and had free time to interact with Japanese society during their stay.
I might add that the senior Myanmar officers took theopportunity to visit a monument in Hamamatsu commemorating Japan-Myanmar relations. This is where the young Aung San, father of State Counsellor Aung San Suu Kyi, lived in exile in 1940 in his twenties before he became the founding father of modern-day Myanmar. I believe the visit symbolized the decades of friendship and mutual trust between the peoples of our two countries.
Group photo with the Myanmar military delegation in Tokyo on August 23, 2019