Japan to help fund return of displaced Myanmar Rohingya Muslims

Rohingya men make a temporary shelter at Nayapara refugee camp in Cox’s Bazar Bangladesh Saturday Jan. 13

Rohingya men make a temporary shelter at Nayapara refugee camp in Cox’s Bazar Bangladesh Saturday Jan. 13

Japanese Foreign Minister Taro Kono asked Myanmar's leader Aung San Suu Kyi on Friday to ensure the "safe and voluntary repatriation and resettlement" of members of the Rohingya ethnic group who have fled to Bangladesh from Myanmar's strife-torn Rakhine state.

Prior to the joint news conference, the Japanese government announced emergency grant aid of around $3 million to Myanmar to help facilitate the return of the Rohingya.

"We have made a decision to provide the aid in response to the agreement between Myanmar and Bangladesh to represent an worldwide message of support so that the repatriation can be carried out promptly", said Japanese Foreign Ministry official Shinobu Yamaguchi.

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On October 12, a United Nations' report based on interviews conducted in Bangladesh found that brutal attacks against Rohingyas in the northern Rakhine state have been well-organised, coordinated and systematic, with the intent of not only driving the population out of Myanmar but preventing them from returning to their homes.

The Japanese foreign minister said Tokyo, one of Myanmar's biggest foreign aid donors, planned to give about $20 million for humanitarian support to Rohingya refugees, subject to parliamentary approval, Kyodo said.

"Japan wants to actively support Myanmar's efforts", Kyodo quoted Kono as telling the news conference.

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Suu Kyi rarely speaks to the media and has said little in public about the crisis in the western state.

Asked about the admission on Wednesday by Myanmar's military that its security forces and Buddhist villagers killed 10 captured Rohingya during clashes a year ago, Suu Kyi stressed the importance of the rule of law and said the military will take responsibility.

Friday's meeting was the first between Kono and Suu Kyi since the former took up his post in August past year.

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In November, Kono visited a refugee camp in Cox's Bazar, southeastern Bangladesh, where Rohingya had fled.

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