Japanese conglomerate Kirin Holdings Company Limited has terminated its ties with Myanmar's military-linked company Myanmar Economic Holdings Public Company Limited -- a decision being seen as a strong message to the Myanmar military.
The announcement comes days after Myanmar military took control of the country through a coup and detained the country's elected leader Aung San Suu Kyi and other political leaders of the National League of Democracy that saw a landslide victor in the November elections.
In a statement Friday, Kirin Holdings Company Limited said it is deeply concerned by the recent actions of the military in Myanmar, which are against the standards and human rights policy that Kirin maintains.
"We decided to invest in Myanmar in 2015, believing that, through our business, we could contribute positively to the people and the economy of the country as it entered an important period of democratization," it said.
However, it said, given the current circumstances, it has no option but to terminate its current joint-venture partnership with Myanmar Economic Holdings Public Company Limited, which provides the service of welfare fund management for the military.
"We will be taking steps as a matter of urgency to put this termination into effect," read the statement.
According to Japan Times, Kirin acquired a majority stake in Myanmar Brewery in 2015 in partnership with Myanmar Economic Holdings Ltd (MEHL). It was part of billions of dollars in foreign investment which flooded into the country with the partial lifting of international sanctions.
Kirin took a controlling stake in Mandalay Brewery Ltd in 2017 at a cost of $4.3 million, topping off its more than $500 million investment in top producer Myanmar Brewery in 2015.
Human rights groups have been demanding that Japanese and other foreign companies having businesses linked to Myanmar military cut their ties since 2017 when a brutal military crackdown caused influx of some 750,000 Rohingyas to Bangladesh. Rights groups called it a genocide.
Faced with pressure from human rights monitors, Kirin hired third-party investigators to look into the business and said in November it was halting payments from the beer ventures to MEHL. But it had been undecided on how to resolve the issue.
Justice For Myanmar, a covert group of activists, congratulated Kirin following Friday's statement, saying it has been a major financial supporter of the Myanmar military and has made the right decision by ending that relationship after the military's illegitimate February 1 coup.