Myanmar residents of Japan held a fundraising event in Tokyo over the weekend to help provide support for the approximately 2 million people displaced in the military's crackdown on the pro-democracy movement in the strife-torn country.
At the Federal Festival in Tokyo's Ikebukuro shopping and entertainment district, members of ethnic minority groups performed traditional music and dancing and offered local dishes and crafts to showcase Myanmar's diversity as a country with more than 100 ethnic groups.
"With proceeds from this event, we would like to help ethnic minority people in Myanmar...suffering due to the military crackdown," Khin Zay Yar Myint, one of the organizers, told Kyodo News on Saturday.
"We can understand people in Japan and other parts of the world have been focusing on the war in Ukraine, but we would like them to know more about the severe situation in Myanmar since the Feb. 1, 2021, coup," she said.
Referring to the Myanmar military's attacks against the civilian population with increased airstrikes and burning of villages, Michihiro Ishibashi, a House of Councillors member from the main opposition Constitutional Democratic Party of Japan, said he will push the Japanese government to better assist the country's displaced people.
"Let us, lawmakers and people of Japan, step up action to empower the people in Myanmar in restoring peace, democracy and human rights," Ishibashi, who serves as secretary general of the Japanese Parliamentary Group Supporting Democratization in Myanmar, said in a speech.
Saw Ba Hla Thein, the Japan representative of the National Unity Government or NUG, Myanmar's shadow civilian leadership in opposition to the military junta, said he would like Japan to provide housing and other emergency assistance for the rising number of displaced people in Myanmar.
Saw Ba Hla Thein suggested that Japan offer aid to Myanmar via U.N. agencies and nongovernment organizations, not the military-led government, because otherwise aid will be diverted to the junta without reaching people in need.
He urged Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida's government to recognize the NUG as the legitimate governing body of Myanmar to undermine the junta's control.
Since the military detained civilian leader Aung San Suu Kyi and toppled her democratically elected government, it has killed over 4,100 demonstrators and other citizens, according to the Assistance Association for Political Prisoners, a Thailand-based monitoring group.
Diplomatic efforts to end the conflict -- led by the United Nations and the Association of Southeast Asian Nations, a 10-member grouping of which Myanmar is a member -- have stalled, with the military refusing to engage with the NUG.