June 5, 2020 / 11:47 AM / a month ago

Japan's Kirin orders probe of Myanmar beer joint ventures linked to military

FILE PHOTO: The Kirin logo is displayed at Kirin Brewery Co. Yokohama Factory in Yokohama, south of Tokyo, Japan June 11, 2019. REUTERS/Issei Kato

TOKYO (Reuters) - Japanese beverage maker Kirin Holding Co (2503.T) on Friday said it had ordered an outside investigation of two Myanmar beer ventures it operates with a company linked to senior figures in the country’s military.

The United Nations earlier identified the owners of Kirin’s local partner, Myanmar Economic Holdings Public Company (MEHL), as members of the Myanmar military, which has been accused of genocide and other war crimes against the Rohingya Muslim minority.

“We consider this to be a matter of utmost urgency. Respect for human rights is the foundation of all business activities in the Kirin Group,” the company said in a press release.

Deloitte Tohmatsu Financial Advisory will conduct the investigation of Myanmar Brewery Limited and Mandalay Brewery Limited.

Kirin, however, said it was not planning to exit the country and would explore its ownership options.

Kirin said it had decided to seek the independent investigation after MEHL failed to provide information requested by the Japanese company during an internal governance check which began in February.

Reporting by Ritsuko Ando; writing by Tim Kelly; editing by Jason Neely

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