A leader of an ethnic minority group fighting for independence in northern Myanmar (Burma) is calling on Japan to get involved in the country’s peace process.
Maran Laja, the 67-year-old general secretary of the Kachin Independence Organization, told The Asahi Shimbun on April 27 that he wants the Japanese government to act as an observer in peace talks that are expected to start as early as May.
While most of the other armed ethnic minority forces in Myanmar have agreed to cease-fires with the central government following its moves toward democratization, some Kachins, an ethnic minority living near the Chinese border, are still fighting.
Laja visited Japan as part of a delegation of ethnic minority representatives who are expected to attend the peace talks.
Laja said the Kachins have agreed on cease-fires with the government on several occasions since the start of the current conflict in 2008, but that Myanmar’s forces have not complied.
He said the only option for the Kachins was to fight defensively, describing the presence of Myanmar’s forces as an invasion.
Laja said he was positive about the peace talks. However, he said he hoped Tokyo would not only monitor the peace talks and the agreements but also provide humanitarian assistance, including medical supplies. He said Tokyo has a major influence on the government of Myanmar.
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