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From Myanmar

Hello. I am Hanae, a board member of Diamonds for Peace.

Currently, I am in Myanmar. I have been coming to Myanmar for my job since November 2014. This is my 7th visit to Myanmar. I am staying at Loikaw city in Kayah State, situated in the middle-eastern region of Myanmar on the border with Thailand.

I often encounter things related to Japan in Kayah. You can see, for example, a hydroelectric dam which was built by Japan from the post war reparations or a bridge called “Japan Bridge”. Many of the cars are used cars from Japan, so many cars have printings written in Japanese like “XX Inc.” or “YY Kindergarten”. I often meet people who speak Japanese.

In my second trip in February 2015, a woman asked me in a restaurant, “Are you Japanese?” Her name was Ingyin. She was studying Japanese to work in Japan as a technical internship trainee. She was of near age to me and lived in the neighborhood, so we soon became friends. I called on her every time I visited Loikaw. She taught me Myanmar language and introduced nice Loikaw food to me. In the spring of 2016, she came to Japan. After three months of language training, she stared working at a factory to process box lunches to be sold at convenience stores near Tokyo. The work was strenuous as she had to keep standing all day.

I realized that many migrant workers like her are sustaining the business of convenience stores, which are indispensable for most Japanese. I recognized the fact that our life is strongly linked with the world through not only goods of convenience stores but smartphones, diamonds, or many other things in our lives.

She is going to stay in Japan for three years during which time she will not go back to Myanmar. During my stay at Loikaw, I have been, in a sense, taking her place and having meals at her house.

myanmar
I’m talking with Ingyin’s mother in broken Myanmar.

 

meal in myanmar
Today’s menu was fried bean curd (tofu) (above to the left), mixed meal of cabbage, tofu, and red pepper (below to the left), and a rice-dumpling wrapped in bamboo leaves.

 

First photo: View of Loikaw City