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Japan Restors Ties With Burma

February 18, 1989

TOKYO (AP) _ Japan on Friday announced diplomatic recognition of the Burmese government and said it would resume some economic aid, becoming the first major donor country to re-establish ties with Rangoon’s military leaders.

The Japanese Foreign Ministry said security and public order had been restored in Burma. It said it hoped the government will settle its political problems with respect to the people’s will and stabilize the nation through economic reform.

In Rangoon, government spokesman Kyaw Sann told reporters that Japanese Ambassador Hiroshi Otaka called on military strongman Saw Maung on Friday and relayed his government’s decision to reopen relations.

″Gen. Saw Maung expressed satisfaction and happiness for the Japanese government’s decision and assured his efforts for further promoting mutual friendship,″ the spokesman said.

Japanese relations with Burma were frozen after Saw Maung seized power in September.

Violent street riots wracked one of the world’s poorest nations after the coup, and soon after Japan announced it was suspending all economic assistance because of the political unrest.

By renewing recognition, a Foreign Ministry official said Japan will partially resume its financial aid to the impoverished nation and make good on a $72 million grant and the $99 million it had originally promised in overseas development assistance.

But ″there is no possibility of making new″ economic commitments, the official said. The Japanese government is making a ″normal implementation of our cooperation,″ he added.

Japan has been Burma’s largest aid donor and supplied 79.3 percent of all government loans and grants to that country in 1986, the last year for which such a comparison is available. Japanese aid has declined in recent years in what local Burmese experts have described as subtle pressure on Rangoon to proceed with swift economic and political reforms.

Except for India, most Asian and African nations have resumed relations with Rangoon. The major aid donors apart from Japan - the European Community, Australia and the United States - have yet to recognize the Saw Maung regime.

Envoys from these regions were deliberately absent from Independence Day celebrations Jan. 1.

The re-establishment of Japanese recognition follows a report on Radio Rangoon Thursday night announcing that multiparty general elections will be held in the spring of 1990.

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