Myanmar has a population of more than 50 million people and is located at a geographical hub close to China, India and ASEAN countries. After independence from the UK in 1948, Japan's cooperation with Myanmar began in 1954 with the "Agreement on Reparations and Economic Cooperation", and signed the Economic and Technical Cooperation Agreement in 1963 and JICA opened the office in Yangon in 1981. In 1988, a large-scale of democratic movement had carried out, but keeping its office, JICA has supported the humanitarian assistance needed and the cultivation of alternative crops to eradicate drugs although the Western countries moved toward economic sanctions against Myanmar and the withdraw of offices in the situation of the oppression on democratic movements by the National Army. In 2011, the transition to democratic government was carried out, and Japan government's policy of economic cooperation with Myanmar was reviewed, and JICA's long-awaited resumption of full-scale support was realized.
Under such circumstances, the new government of Myanmar, led by the National League for Democracy (NLD), which had established at the end of March 2016, has set the agriculture, education, health care, and finance as a priority area in the economic field with the aim to improve the quality of life of the people. As Myanmar's trusted partner, Japan announced to support 800 billion yen in public and private sectors through 5 years at the Japan-Myanmar Summit Meeting held in November 2016. In October 2017, the first Japan Overseas Cooperation Volunteers were dispatched. Recently, as a part of this large-scale support, 4 projects and more than 120.9 billion yen loan agreement were signed in January 2020. These four projects will improve and maintain the system and facilities of the electricity, water, and other urban environments in the largest city, Yangon, and develop basic infrastructure to support economic activities such as electricity, roads, and water supply in rural areas as well. It intends to support the improvement of the quality of life of the people of Myanmar.
Myanmar is said to be the "last frontier in Asia" which attracts a lot of attention. After the transfer of civil government in 2011, while achieving economic growth of more than 8%, the situation faced heavy challenges to national reconciliation, the Independent Commission of Investigation (ICOE) report, and the International Court of Justice (ICJ) and the International Criminal Court (ICC) in terms of Rakhine Issues. We must also work on important themes such as legal systems to promote private investment, further infrastructure development, education, and human resource development for the younger generation who will support Myanmar in the future. 2020 is also an important year as the General Election is held. In order to continue to support Myanmar's democratic nation building in line with the
international community, JICA listens sincerely to Myanmar government initiatives and thinks together about what can be done. As a reliable partner for Myanmar, we will use all the tools of ODA to support Myanmar. And, JICA's activities cannot be accomplished without cooperation with the international community, the business community, academia, civil society, etc., and JICA is looking forward to hearing your advice and suggestion. We will continue to think tenaciously and support Myanmar for its development together with all of you.
SAKAKURA Noriji, Chief Representative
JICA Myanmar Office