Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga expressed deep concern over the situation in Myanmar in phone talks with the new Prime Minister of Laos, Phankham Viphavanh.
The Japanese PM expressed his condolences to the bereaved families of the victims of the pleasure boat accident that occurred in Vientiane Province last Sunday and raised concerns about the situation in Myanmar, where the military continues its violent crackdown on protestors, according to the Japanese foreign ministry.
He vowed to keep pressing Myanmar’s military to avoid using force against civilians, release ousted leader Aung San Suu Kyi and other detainees, and restore political order as soon as possible.
Praising efforts by the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) toward improving the situation, Suga told Phankham that he looked forward to Laos, which shares its northwestern border with Myanmar, playing its part, according to Japan Times.
Laos made an official statement regarding the situation in Myanmar on 15 March through its Ministry of Foreign Affairs and participated in an ASEAN foreign minister’s meeting on the topic on 3 March.
Meanwhile, during their talks, Prime Minister Phankham Viphavanh and his Japanese counterpart expressed satisfaction with the celebration of the 65th anniversary of diplomatic relations and the 5th anniversary of the strategic partnership between Laos and Japan, held in 2020.
Phankham expressed gratitude to the Japanese government and citizens for their assistance to Laos and contributions to Laos’s socio-economic growth.
In 2017, Japan was the sixth-largest foreign direct investor in Laos. As of 2020, some 165 Japanese companies had invested in various areas including agriculture, manufacturing, and construction, according to the Vientiane Times.
PM Suga and PM Phankham affirmed an action plan to strengthen the strategic partnership between their countries, with Japan pledging roughly ¥200 million yen (USD 1.8 million) in aid to set up cold chain facilities in Laos to store Covid-19 vaccines, as well as promising to support improvements to international airports.