Following this week’s coup d'état in Myanmar when democratically elected members of Myanmar's ruling party including State Counsellor and Nobel Prize Winner Aung San Suu Kyi were deposed by Myanmar's military, Japan’s brewing group Kirin Holdingsannounced today “toterminate [its] current joint-venture partnership with Myanma Economic Holdings Public Company Limited (MEHL), which provides the service of welfare fund management for the military.” The company also said it would “be taking steps as a matter of urgency to put this termination into effect.”
Kirin has long been criticized for its entanglements with the military in Myanmar which date from 2015 when Kirin bought a majority stake in local beer market leader Myanmar Brewery from MEHL. Two years later, Kirin bought another majority stake in Mandalay Brewery (inside.beer, 12.2.2017) with the rest still in hands of the seller.
In June 2020, Kirin was urged by NGOs to cut ties to the military regimewhich is said to be responsible for countless atrocities against the Rohingya and other ethnic minorities. (inside.beer, 18.6.2020) As a consequence, Kirin started an independent investigation on the destination of proceeds received by MEHL from the joint-venture businesses Myanmar Brewery Limited (MBL) and Mandalay Brewery Limited (MDL). However, Deloitte Tohmatsu Financial Advisory reported last month that it was unable to access sufficient information required to make a definitive determination. (inside.beer, 7.1.2021)
Kirin’s President and CEO Yoshinori Isozaki said now that he is “deeply concerned by the recent actions of the military in Myanmar, which are against our standards and Human Rights Policy.
“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. Our aspiration was and remains to create a positive impact on Myanmar’s economy and society through our operations at Myanmar Brewery Limited and Mandalay Brewery Limited.
Given the current circumstances, we have no option but to terminate our current joint-venture partnership with Myanma Economic Holdings Public Company Limited,” Mr. Isozaki ended his statement.