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Japan to keep aid to Myanmar

Japan, a top donor to Myanmar, says it would continue aid for now despite the killing of a Japanese in a crackdown on protests.

world Updated: Sep 28, 2007 19:57 IST

Japan, a top donor to Myanmar, said on Friday it would continue aid for now despite the killing of a Japanese in a crackdown on protests and was considering sending an envoy to the military-ruled nation.

A Japanese videojournalist, Kenji Nagai, was shot dead as he filmed the military regime's clampdown on demonstrations, becoming the first foreigner to die in the turmoil.

"We have not decided to stop grant aid immediately," chief government spokesman Nobutaka Machimura told a news conference.

"Regarding the nature of the aid, the government will consider it by watching how the situation develops and what facts we get," he said, referring to the probe into Nagai's death.

Machimura said Japan would also "closely watch how discussions develop at the UN Security Council and other places regarding the issue of sanctions."

Machimura had earlier said Japan would lodge a protest over the journalist's death.

The United States and European nations have decided to tighten sanctions on Myanmar and called for the world to ramp up pressure due to the bloody crackdown on protests.

In a rare break with its Western allies, Japan has opted for the approach of most Asian nations of trying to engage the military regime.

Japan said it was considering sending Deputy Foreign Minister Mitoji Yabunaka to Myanmar for talks.

"We are considering sending him to Myanmar, but the exact dates or the length of his trip have yet to be decided," a foreign ministry official said.

Myanmar agreed on Thursday to issue a visa for UN special envoy Ibrahim Gambari to visit.

Japan in 2003 suspended low-interest loans for major projects, such as infrastructure, to protest the continued detention of pro-democracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi.

But Japan continues to supply aid for what it calls humanitarian purposes.