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TOKYO — Toyota Motor Corp said on Wednesday it has begun assembling cars at a new plant in Myanmar whose start was put on hold for more than 19 months after a military coup and during the coronavirus pandemic.
The Japanese automaker said the plant, which is opening even as other companies have pulled out of the country, has begun to assemble one or two vehicles a day, working from parts kits shipped to Myanmar in September.
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Japanese companies and other multinationals have faced pressure to pull out of investments in Myanmar that have been seen to benefit the military.
“We believe this meets our initial intention to contribute to the industrial development of Myanmar … and to support our employees and their families’ lives,” Toyota said in a statement.
“Under these circumstances, we are continuously making every effort to comply with all relevant laws and regulations.”
The plant had originally been due to open in February 2021, the same month that the military seized power to stop former leader Aung San Suu Kyi’s National League for Democracy forming a new government.
In June, Japanese drinks company Kirin Holdings said it would sell its stake in a Myanmar joint venture with a military-linked local partner.
The Toyota plant is in the Thilawa Special Economic Zone, a manufacturing and logistics hub outside the business hub of Yangon built with Japanese investment.
Toyota had said in 2019 it would begin to assemble Hilux trucks in Myanmar. Its decision to restart production was first reported by the Nikkei business daily. (Reporting by Satoshi Sugiyama; Editing by Clarence Fernandez and Richard Pullin)