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Japan’s Kishida in Thailand to talk about economics, Myanmar

Japan’s Prime Minister Fumio Kishida is expected to talk with his Thai counterpart Prayuth Chan-ocha about economic matters, upheaval in Myanmar and Russia‘s war in Ukraine when they meet Monday in the middle of his five-nation overseas tour.

Kishida arrived in Thailand on Sunday after visits to Indonesia and Vietnam. He is scheduled to go to Italy and the United Kingdom after Thailand.

Japanese economic investments have been key to Thailand’s industrialization over the past six decades, especially in the automotive industry, which now seeks to expand in the electric vehicles sector.

Also likely to be on their agenda is the violent conflict in Thailand’s neighbor, Myanmar, which some experts characterize as a civil war. Several governments have imposed sanctions against Myanmar’s military for the takeover last year, and other Southeast Asian countries like Indonesia and Singapore have condemned its abuses.

Thailand and Japan share a softer approach and have been less critical of the ruling military. Thailand has significant economic interests in Myanmar and has its own past history of army rule. Japan has historically had friendly ties with the military governments that have ruled Myanmar most of the past six decades.

Japanese officials have said Kishida would also discuss a possible Reciprocal Access Agreement with Thailand, aimed at deepening their defense cooperation. The agreement would allow for joint exercises, training and stationing of their militaries on each other’s territory.

Kishida discussed the war in Ukraine with Vietnamese leaders on Sunday and said they agreed on the respect for international law and rejection of the use of force.

Japan has condemned Russia’s invasion and joined Western nations in imposing sanctions against Moscow. Vietnam, like most other Southeast Asian nations, has avoided directly criticizing Russia and has called for restraint, the respect of the U.N. charter and dialogue to seek a peaceful solution to the conflict.

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