The liberated Japanese reporter calls on Tokyo to take “concrete action” against the junta in Myanmar

© Reuters. FILE PHOTO: Japanese journalist Yuki Kitazumi, arrested in Myanmar and accused of spreading false news while cracking down on the media following a military coup in February, speaks to the media upon arrival at Narita Airport in Narita, Chiba Prefecture.

By Antoni Slodkowski

TOKYO (Reuters) – A Japanese journalist recently freed from a prison in Myanmar called on his government on Friday to take “concrete action” against the military regime there, including reviewing its development aid.

The Myanmar authorities arrested Yuki Kitazumi, a freelance reporter who covered the unrest that engulfed the country following a military takeover on February 1, and charged him with disseminating false information.

Kitazumi, who lived in Myanmar for several years and previously ran a media company in the capital, Yangon, was released after negotiations led by the Japanese ambassador. The journalist returned to Japan last week.

“I was freed thanks to the support of the Japanese government, but it is not that that solved the problem,” Kitazumi said at a press conference in Tokyo, referring to the turbulence in Myanmar.

Myanmar security forces have killed more than 800 people since a wave of protests broke out after the military toppled an elected government led by Nobel Prize winner Aung San Suu Kyi, according to the Assistance Association for Political Prisoners activist group.

The group says more than 4,000 people have been arrested, including 20 who have been sentenced to death.

Kitazumi said Japan has a strong hold in Myanmar because of its historical ties and appealed to its government to take “concrete action” to resolve the confrontation between the democracy movement and the generals.

“I want Japan to use the force with which it sets me free to solve the problem in Myanmar,” he said.

Japan has been a major investor and source of technical and development aid to the semi-civil governments in Myanmar in the decade of political reform that followed the end of the final era of military rule in 2011.

When asked by Japanese Foreign Minister Toshimitsu Motegi that Tokyo could cut all development aid if the situation did not improve, Kitazumi said that cutting some projects would send a “strong message” and that a review of Japan’s commitment was necessary.

Kitazumi’s media company produced video content, from news to movie trailers, and trained journalists with an emphasis on free speech.

Before working in Yangon, Kitazumi was a journalist for Japan’s largest daily newspaper, the.

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