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01
The Last Frontier, Now in Motion

Continuous Support from Japan

The Republic of the Union of Myanmar (formerly known as Burma) has had a long and turbulent history. Once a vast empire whose power extended all the way to Ayutthaya in Thailand in the 16th century, the country was incorporated into British India after three wars against the British Empire in the 19th century. Many Burmese fought with the Imperial Japanese Army during the Pacific War, and the country finally became independent from British rule in 1948. The new socialist government closed its doors to the outside world for a long period of time, which hindered economic development to a large extent. Things took a dramatic turn in 2011, however, when U Thein Sein was elected to his current post as President of Myanmar. He has directed the country toward liberal democracy and started introducing foreign capital in earnest. Thus, Myanmar came to earn its reputation as “Asia's last frontier.”

There are also other reasons to believe in the future of the country. With a workingage population (ages 15-64) of nearly 70% and approximately one-third of its population aged 20 or younger, Myanmar has an ideal population pyramid. Its literacy rate has also topped 90%, thanks to temple schools where monks teach reading and writing skills to children who cannot attend regular schools. People in Myanmar embrace the Buddhist faith and value spiritual fulfillment, and together with a high standard of public safety this adds to the significant potential that the country has to offer.

The Shwedagon Pagoda (“golden Yangon stupa”) at twilight
Thanaka wood is Myanmar’s natural cosmetic. Applied to the face, paste made from the wood provides protection from sunburn and gives a cooling sensation.
Many people visit Shwedagon Pagoda every day.

With the postwar reparations of 1954, Myanmar's diplomatic relations with Japan were restored and, in fact, Myanmar was the very first country to which Japan made such reparations for wartime damage. Japan paid US$200 million and offered an additional US$50 million in the form of economic assistance over a ten-year period. With those funds, the local government developed hydropower plants and kicked off an industrialization project that involved KUBOTA, Mazda, Hino Motors, and Matsushita Electric Industrial (now Panasonic). Since that time, Japan has offered continual development assistance in the form of yen loans and grant aid beginning in 1968 and 1975, respectively. With the exception of a brief suspension of new yen loans due to a military coup, Japan has remained constantly committed to emergency and humanitarian assistance projects in Myanmar and, in the wake of the military junta's dissolution in 2011, Japan's economic assistance resumed in full force.

At that time, Myanmar's foreign liabilities stood at around US$11.0 billion, and Japan was the largest creditor country with a total outstanding balance of approximately JPY500 billion. In 2012, it was announced that Japan would implement an arrears clearance operation regarding past yen loans. This was carried out in the following year, thus paving the way for rehabilitation of the Myanmar economy. Japan still offers both grant and loan aids and technological assistance to the country.

KUBOTA's Deep Exchange with Myanmar

The relationship between KUBOTA and Myanmar runs deep. In 1953, one year before the postwar reparations were started, KUBOTA began exporting its farm machinery (power tillers) to Myanmar. In the following year, a Burmese mission paid a visit to KUBOTA's Sakai Plant during their stay in Japan for postwar reparation talks. The Burmese government at the time was planning to use the reparations to industrialize the country, and power tillers were chosen for their project to produce industrial goods locally, which later evolved into the industrialization project mentioned previously.

Having established a good relationship with the country, in 1955 KUBOTA shipped the first batch of its pumps there, which met with such high acceptance that engine pump sets for irrigation were designated as an item to be included among the war reparations in 1957. The following year saw the dispatch of KUBOTA's pump engineers to begin offering after-sales services in Myanmar. Since that time, KUBOTA's pumps have chalked up an impressive track record in the country. Orders came in from the Burmese Agricultural Development Corporation for 580 sets of engines for jute field irrigation pumps in 1960, and 1,000 sets of irrigation pumps were ordered in 1961, thus giving KUBOTA as much as 90% of the country's pump market on a unit basis.

Burmese Heavy Industry Corporation’s Sinde Farming Machinery Factory, for which KUBOTA was involved in construction and provided engineering guidance (circa 1969)
Engine pump sets for Burma (Mukogawa Plant, 1961)
Sinde Foundry (circa 2012)

As part of the Burmese government's industrialization project, KUBOTA was asked to sign a technological tie-up for manufacturing farm machinery in 1962 and became involved in the construction of a manufacturing plant for engines and pumps, which later became known as the Sinde Farming Machinery Factory. Whether it involved the frequent dispatch of engineers or acceptance of numerous trainees, KUBOTA was always ready to generously offer technical guidance, thereby making great contributions to the development of farming in Myanmar. In 1978, KUBOTA received an order to construct a foundry within the factory and supervised the start-to-finish process from casting of components to machining and assembly.

Then in 1987, KUBOTA delivered pumping equipment capable of irrigating some 10,000 ha, and offered free supply of materials and engineering guidance for rehabilitation of the foundry in 1997. KUBOTA delivered 25 tractors and 93 tractors in 2013 and 2014, respectively, as a form of Official Development Assistance (ODA). Having commenced under the postwar reparation framework, the ever-deepening relationship between Myanmar and KUBOTA has extended unbroken to this day.

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