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    Japan cuts financial aid to Myanmar

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    The Japanese government made the decision to reduce financial aid to Myanmar, Foreign Minister Masahiko Komura said Tuesday.

    TOKYO, October 16 (RIA Novosti) - The Japanese government has decided to reduce financial aid to Myanmar following a crackdown by the ruling military junta on pro-democracy protestors, Foreign Minister Masahiko Komura said Tuesday.

    "Taking into account the current situation in Myanmar and the UN Security Council statement, we have decided to reduce aid," he said.

    The cuts amount to around 552 million yen ($4.7 million) in funding for the construction of a personnel training center that Japan decided to provide in July.

    In September, a Japanese reporter, Kenji Nagai, was killed during the breakup of peaceful demonstrations in Myanmar, also known as Burma. Tokyo continues to demand from Myanmar's military government an investigation into the incident.

    "We must demonstrate the position of the Japanese government. We cannot support the military regime [in Myanmar]," Komura said, adding that funding for healthcare programs must not be cut, as this would affect the population of the southeast Asian country as a whole.

    Last week the UN Security Council adopted a "soft" statement on Myanmar, expressing support for the UN special envoy to the country, Ibrahim Gambari, and calling for peaceful reforms in the country.

    Foreign ministers from the 27 EU countries approved Monday the introduction of additional sanctions against Myanmar, including possible embargos on key imports, asset freezes, and visa bans.

    The Myanmar leadership has admitted that 10 people were killed in the protests in late September, led by the country's revered Buddhist monks, but independent reports quote figures up to 20 times higher. The protests were sparked by massive hikes in fuel prices in August.

    Arrests of dissenters continued this weekend, adding to the thousands of political prisoners in the country. The UN Security Council has condemned the crackdown and called for the release of jailed dissidents.

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