Setting aside their emotion on seeing a courageous journalist, Japanese photographer and video reporter Kenji Nagai, gunned down on the streets of Rangoon, Reporters Without Borders and the Burma Media Association today called on Japan’s new prime minister, Yasuo Fukuda, to impose sanctions on the Burmese military regime until those responsible for his murder are brought to trial.
"How could your government agree to support and financially aid a regime that murders a Japanese citizen with complete impunity?" the two organisations asked. "We call on you to freeze your aid and impose sanctions on the military regime in order to obtain a proper investigation and the trial of those responsible, including the officers who gave the orders to fire on civilians and on Nagai. If this is not done, the security forces will continue to crack down on monks and civilians."
The Japanese TV station Fuji yesterday broadcast damning footage show how Nagai, who worked for the APF News agency, was killed. His video camera in his hand, he was shot at point-blank rage by a Burmese soldier.
A Japanese embassy doctor said Nagai was killed by a bullet to the heart that entered through his chest, which confirms that he was shot head on.
The broadcasting of the footage of his death has stunned the Japanese public and increased the anger against Burma’s military government, especially as the Burmese authorities had claimed that Nagai was killed by a stray bullet. This was clearly just one more lie to add to all those about the number of civilian victims, the number of demonstrators and the reason the Internet went down in Burma.
Prime Minister Fukuda yesterday said Japan would ask the Burmese government for an explanation of Nagai’s death but he ruled out imposing sanctions. A senior foreign ministry official is to be sent to Rangoon.
Nagai had worked in many countries at war, and always paid a particular attention to the fate of the civilian population.
This is not the first time that a journalist has been killed in Burma by the military. A Burmese photo-reporter was killed during an attack by regime thugs on opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi’s motorcade in May 2003.