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11 Jan 2021

Commentary: Kirin beer can’t tell if it’s funding the Myanmar military; Critics raise questions

11 January 2021

Japanese beer corporation Kirin has said that an assessment of its ties with the Myanmar military was “inconclusive” as to the company’s role in human rights abuses and military operations.

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In a statement on January 7, Kirin said that an investigation commissioned by the company and carried out by Deloitte was “unable to access sufficient information” to determine whether profits from its partnerships with MEHL were going to the military.

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“Kirin are making themselves look ridiculous trying to claim they can’t find out if the Burmese military uses its money for military purposes,” said Burma Campaign UK Director Mark Farmaner.

Kirin said it will issue an update on its plans regarding Myanmar Brewery and Mandalay Brewery by the end of April. The Japanese conglomerate is the ninth-largest beer company in the world, according to market research firm Technavio.

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Though Kirin has been publicly opposed to the prospect of funding the Myanmar military, the firm has refused to sever its partnership with MEHL.

In response to criticism from international human rights groups, Kirin wrote in a letter in June 2020 that “It is wholly unacceptable to Kirin that any proceeds from the joint-venture with the MEHL could be used for military purposes.”

Last June, Kirin announced that Deloitte would carry out an investigation into MEHL to determine where the profits from its joint ventures in the country were going. 

In its statement last week, Kirin said that it will continue its suspension of payments from its Myanmar business ventures to MEHL as well as Kirin Holdings. Kirin announced the self-imposed restrictions in November due to a “lack of visibility regarding the future business environment for our Myanmar joint-ventures, including the remaining issue of the destination of proceeds.”

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