Japan resumes meeting with 5 Mekong countries after suspending it due to Myanmar coup

Japan is expected to use its meeting on Friday with the five Mekong River states to reiterate its commitment to the region, although analysts said it will also aim to reinforce its foreign policy objective of countering China’s influence.

Japanese Foreign Minister Toshimitsu Motegi will hold a videoconference summit with his counterparts from Cambodia, Laos, Myanmar, Thailand and Vietnam. The agenda includes support for the five countries – all of which are battling with Covid-19 surges due to the highly contagious Delta variant – as well as discussions on territorial disputes in the South China Sea and a festering political crisis in Myanmar following a February coup.

While this Japan-Mekong meeting takes place annually, it was postponed from its original March date as Tokyo feared that holding it would be seen as recognising the military junta which seized power from an elected government, sources told Kyodo News.

Julian Ryall