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Photographer Kenji Nagai, 50, was shot dead on a Yangon street on Thursday. Pictures smuggled out of the country showed him taking photos with a small camera even as he lay dying.


TOKYO (Reuters) – A Japanese photographer has been killed during a government crackdown on a democracy demonstration in the Myanmar capital of Yangon, Japan’s Foreign Ministry said on Thursday.

Tokyo will protest to the Myanmar government over the incident, Kyodo news agency quoted Japan’s top government spokesman as saying.

“We will protest to the Myanmar government and seek clarification of the truth,” Kyodo quoted Chief Cabinet Secretary Nobutaka Machimura as telling reporters.

“We hope appropriate measures will be taken to ensure the safety of Japanese nationals.”

Myanmar’s foreign ministry told Japan’s embassy in Yangon that a man who appeared to be Japanese had been found dead.

Embassy staff went to the hospital to investigate and made checks with his family and the man’s employers that showed that the man was 50-year-old photographer Kenji Nagai, the ministry said in a statement.

Japan’s deputy foreign minister Hitoshi Kimura summoned Myanmar ambassador Hla Myint earlier to urge the government to exercise restraint in dealing with the demonstrations, after troops fired shots and hundreds of monks were detained.

Reports of the Japanese man’s death came in as the two were meeting and Kimura asked the matter be dealt with appropriately, a foreign ministry official said. The Myanmar ambassador said that the incident was regrettable, the official said.

The leader of a small Japanese opposition party called on the government to halt all official development assistance to Myanmar except for humanitarian aid, Kyodo said.

Japan has in the past been criticized for not taking a hard line on Myanmar’s military government. Machimura said earlier that Japan would watch the situation for a while before deciding whether to apply sanctions.

Two Japanese reporters were expelled from Yangon on Wednesday, Kyodo said.

Myanmar rarely issues working visas to journalists and Yangon’s embassies around the world are known to keep blacklists of reporters who are routinely refused even tourist visas.

The two Bangkok-based reporters, Kazuya Endo of Kyodo and Koji Hirata of Japan’s regional Chunichi Shimbun, were escorted to the airport by government officials before leaving the country on Wednesday, Kyodo said.

Myanmar’s generals accused the foreign media on Thursday of publishing a “skyful of lies” about the crackdown in which several people have died. Hundreds of democracy activists protested outside the Myanmar embassy in Tokyo on Thursday.


Image: Courtesy Reuters











Ghutiari Sharif is a nondescript village in the South-24 Parganas district of West Bengal. It is where the notable medieval Islamic ascetic’s – Pir Ghazi Mubarak Shah – mazar is situated. Yesterday (03.08.2007), marked the death anniversary of this ascetic and there were over a lac of visitors who came to offer prayers. Legend has it that the ascetic possessed spiritual powers, and it was he who had once brought rainfall ending a long period of drought back in the days, providing relief for the suffering mass. It was through intensive meditation carried out in this very mazar (which now draws lacs of visitors) that this ascetic was believed to have made this possible. But it cost him his life. It was both tragic and miraculous at the same time. No wonder then that the mood of the place was marked by both a sense of fervent celebrations and also that of gratitude towards the almighty. People from all walks of life, traveling great distances had come to be a part of this holy event.

A word of caution for travelers: Ghutiari Sharif is otherwise quite notoriously renowned for being a hub of criminals, and there is also a huge presence of red light areas here. IF you are planning to visit this place you must be cautious about your belongings and not carry any expensive materials with you. I heard that all pick pockets that operate in the cities are trained here!!