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Myanmar junta arrests 11 for inflating rice prices, including Japanese national

YANGON — Four executives from supermarket chains in Myanmar, including a Japanese joint-venture official, were arrested for selling rice at inflated prices, state media said on July 1, as the war-torn country's ruling junta struggles to stabilise a spiralling economy.

The authorities said they arrested 11 people, including rice traders and officials from rice mills and rice retailers, accusing them of inflating prices by 31 per cent to 70 per cent from prescribed levels, according to the Global New Light of Myanmar newspaper.

In Tokyo, Japanese Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshimasa Hayashi told reporters that a Japanese national is being questioned by police in Myanmar's commercial capital Yangon.

"The Japanese government intends to continue taking appropriate steps, including maintaining contact with the company the Japanese citizen works for and offering necessary support, while urging the local authorities for his early release," he said.

The junta-run Myanmar newspaper said those arrested included an executive from supermarket chain Aeon Orange, a joint venture between Japan's Aeon and Yangon-based Creation Myanmar.

Myanmar has been in turmoil since a February 2021 coup when the military deposed an elected civilian government, sparking widespread protests that have morphed into a nationwide armed resistance.

Amid escalating violence, poverty in Myanmar is more widespread than at any time in the last six years, and labour shortages and a depreciating currency have made it harder to do business, according to the World Bank.

In June, the junta arrested at least 35 people, cracking down on gold and foreign exchange traders and agents selling foreign real estate as part of efforts to stabilise its rapidly depreciating