Rights groups urge Japan to stop real estate project in Myanmar

TOKYO, July 15 (Reuters) - Human rights groups on Thursday called for Japan to cancel a real estate project involving Myanmar's defence ministry, saying the project is linked to the military, which has waged a deadly crackdown since the February 1 coup.

Japan's private firms and a state entity are engaged in a multi-million dollar hotel and office development on land owned by Myanmar's defence ministry, Reuters reported earlier. read more

Rights groups, including Human Rights Watch, said Japan failed to assess the risk associated with doing business in Myanmar.

"We strongly condemn the fact that Japan's public funds likely ended up in the hands of the Tatmadaw," said Yuka Kiguchi, Executive Director of Mekong Watch, referring to Myanmar's armed forces.

Through rent payments, the Y Complex project benefits Myanmar's defence ministry, which is controlled by the military under the country's constitution, the groups say.

Japanese company and government officials have said they thought the rent, which was paid by an intermediary, was ultimately going to Myanmar's government, not the military.

Reporting by Ju-min Park; Editing by Gerry Doyle

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