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Myanmar coup removes central bank chief, alarming global financiers

TAKERO MINAMI, Nikkei staff write

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Bank of Japan concerned that years of cooperation risk turning backward

TOKYO -- As news of the military coup in Myanmar reached the halls of the Bank of Japan, staff raced to gather information about the ongoing developments.

"They have apparently kicked out the central bank governor as well." The shocking news was passed up the command chain at the head office in Tokyo's Nihonbashi district.  

On Feb.1, Myanmar's military took control of the country's administrative, legislative and judicial branches, detaining de facto leader State Counselor Aung San Suu Kyi and several other democratically elected officials.

It is unclear what happened to former central bank chief Kyaw Kyaw Maung, but deputy governor Bo Bo Nge has been detained, according to media reports. Than Nyein, who served as central banker under the previous junta before the first free election in decades in 2015, has been reappointed to the role.

The Bank of Japan, like most central banks around the world, is watching carefully, to see how the military leaders could affect bilateral and regional cooperation on monetary policy and financial stability.

The move brought back stark memories of the country's decades of military rule, when it was closed off from much of the world. The period of isolation began to change when the military embraced reforms at the beginning of the last decade, with foreign investors flooding into the largely untapped market rich with natural resources.

Japanese companies and financial institutions made significant inroads in Myanmar in the past decade, expecting the market to grow rapidly as it moved toward democracy.