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11 Mar 2021

Francesca Regalado, Nikkei Asia

Asian companies stay quiet as Western peers condemn Myanmar coup

5 Mar 2021

Nearly 50 mostly Western international companies in Myanmar...have signed a statement expressing concern about the country's military coup. Asian businesses, however, are largely keeping their heads down.


Nishimura & Asahi, one of Japan's big four law firms, became the most recent to join the MCRB [Myanmar Centre for Responsible Business] statement...


Last month, a group of civil society groups including Human Rights Watch submitted to the UN Working Group on Business and Human Rights a complaint about Japanese businesses involved in a commercial development project in Yangon called Y Complex...


The Japan Chamber of Commerce and Industry, Myanmar, responded to Nikkei Asia's inquiry by saying it is "considering" its response.


A cautious approach toward the coup is shared by many Asian companies and investors. For example, Ascent Capital, a private equity fund registered in Singapore and among the most high-profile and media-active commercial players in Myanmar, has not said a word in public. The fund said via its PR agency that "Ascent Capital is currently not offering comments to [the] media."


Even though many large Asian corporations remain silent, three Japanese-owned small and medium-sized enterprises in Myanmar did join the MCRB statement. "Our company position is very clear: We stand on the people's side and we're against any kind of violence and any challenge to basic human rights," said the owner of one of the companies...

[Also refers to Coca-Cola, Facebook, H&M, Heineken, Nestle, Unilver, Kirin Holdings, Adidas, Carlsberg, L'Oreal, Maersk, Metro, Total, Yoma Group, KBZ Bank, Telenor Group, Facebook, Instagram, Tatmadaw, Myanmar Economic Holdings]