Japan’s and South Korea’s Democracy Promotion: Asian Responses to the February Coup in Myanmar

Conference: The Asian Conference on Asian Studies (ACAS2022)
Title: Japan’s and South Korea’s Democracy Promotion: Asian Responses to the February Coup in Myanmar
Stream: Comparative Studies of Asian and East Asian Studies
Presentation Type: Live-Stream Presentation
David Potter, Nanzan University, Japan
Hyo-sook Kim, Kansai Gaidai University, Japan


The decline of democracy over the world is remarkable. Asia, in which many countries succeeded democratization around 1990, is not an exception to the phenomena. Demonstrations opposing authoritarian rule and corruption occurred recently in Hong Kong, Indonesia, and South Korea. Myanmar, where the transition from the military regime to democratic government began in 2011, has experienced limited political and economic reforms and the violation of ethnic minorities’ human rights. On 1 February 2021, the military launched a coup and has continued oppression of Myanmar's people and democratization movement. The international community immediately criticized the coup and imposed economic sanctions on the military junta. This study compares Japan's and South Korea's assistance to Myanmar's democratization and responses to the military coup in 2021. Democracy promotion evolved into an international norm in the 1990s and has been one piece of the international development regime led by the Western developed countries. Since the 2000s, however, the rise of democratic emerging aid donors has been remarkable. It is unclear, however, whether they provide an alternative to promoting democracy led by Western nations and encourage the reconceptualization of this idea in the world of declining democracies. By comparing governmental and civil society’s responses to and support for democratization and the coup in Myanmar, this study not only presents the promotion of democracy by Japan and South Korea, but also provides valuable insights to deepen our understanding of the possibilities and limits of the Asian countries in democracy promotion led by the western countries.

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