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The Nippon Foundation Chairman Sasakawa Named Japanese Government's Special Envoy To Help Achieve Reconciliation In Myanmar

TOKYO, Feb. 20. 2013 /PRNewswire/ -- At a Cabinet session on February 19, the Government of Japan named Nippon Foundation Chairman Yohei Sasakawa as its special representative to help achieve ethnic reconciliation in Myanmar. The newly created post has no fixed tenure.

Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga said at a news conference that with the appointment of Sasakawa, Japan "will work to facilitate the process of reconciliation between Myanmar's government and ethnic minorities," which he said is expected to make progress.

Sasakawa's official title is "Special Envoy of the Government of Japan for National Reconciliation in Myanmar." With his status as a national civil servant with special duties, Sasakawa will represent the Government of Japan in contacting the Myanmar government, ethnic minorities and the governments of other countries in a bid to attain national reconciliation.

The Nippon Foundation, a Tokyo-based philanthropic organization, has long assisted Myanmar through such means as combating Hansen's disease (Leprosy) and building schools since the days when that country was under military rule. In June 2012, Sasakawa was assigned by the government to act as "Goodwill Ambassador for Welfare of the National Races in Myanmar."

He has since taken the lead in offering assistance such as the supply of rice and medical goods to the areas that are home to the minorities. Upon being named the Special Envoy, Sasakawa said "there would be no unification and democratization of Myanmar without reconciliation among the different ethnic groups," adding that he would perform his duties fully aware of the heavy responsibility placed upon him.

Sasakawa's appointment by the Government of Japan is comparable to similar responsibilities given in 2002 to Yasushi Akashi, former Under-Secretary-General of the United Nations, to represent Japan to help achieve peace and reconstruction in Sri Lanka.

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