Sep. 29, 2021

Sumitomo Corporation’s Stance on Telecommunications Business in Myanmar

Sumitomo Corporation declares in its Management Principles that it aims to be a global organization that contributes broadly to society and places prime importance on utmost respect for the individual. In our efforts to respect human rights to fulfill our corporate social responsibility and pursue sustainable growth with society, we have in place the Sumitomo Corporation Group’s Human Rights Policy.

As a company that conducts businesses in Myanmar, we have watched what has been occurring in the country since a state of emergency was declared on February 1 this year.

In Myanmar, Myanma Posts and Telecommunications (hereinafter, “MPT“), a licensed telecommunications service provider, offers telecommunications service in compliance with the laws of the country and under the supervision of the Ministry of Transport and Communications, the applicable regulatory authority. By drawing on its overseas business experience, we support MPT’s service operation based on a Joint Operation Agreement concluded with MPT through KDDI Summit Global Myanmar Co., Ltd. (hereinafter, “KSGM”), a joint venture established between KDDI and Sumitomo Corporation.

We are deeply concerned about the situation in Myanmar regarding lawful interception and mobile internet shutdown in light of the importance of ensuring the use of communication for everyone and protecting its privacy from the perspective of human rights.

Sumitomo Corporation and KSGM are not subject to direct instructions from the regulatory authority with regard to interception based on the telecommunications laws of Myanmar. Neither are the companies in a position to acknowledge the instructions issued by the authority or the details of any other facts. However, we have requested MPT to ensure that proper process is secured for each individual case so that the basic human rights of the people of Myanmar are not negatively affected and that tangible and intangible assets provided by KSGM are not used in situations that violate the Sumitomo Corporation Group’s Human Rights Policy.

Furthermore, we understand that the regulatory authority, pursuant to relevant laws of Myanmar, has ordered licensed telecommunications service providers including MPT to partially shut down mobile internet, and that all service providers have been following the order. Aiming for a full and immediate lifting of the mobile internet shutdown, Sumitomo Corporation has been making efforts to fully restore the internet in collaboration with other telecommunications service providers by, for example, issuing a written request to the regulatory authority.

Since entering the business in 2014, Sumitomo Corporation has consistently endeavored to contribute to Myanmar’s development and improve the lifestyles of its people. We realize that all businesses are facing a difficult situation in Myanmar now and that opinions vary among the public. We understand that not all the information we have or our initiatives can be disclosed from the viewpoint of ensuring the safety of our local colleagues, their family members and other related people and abiding by the confidentiality obligations under relevant contracts. However, despite the adverse conditions, we believe that our actions are exerting positive effects from the perspective of providing technical and marketing support for the country’s communication service, which is an essential element of its people’s lives and economic activities, as well as of respecting human rights. Sumitomo Corporation is determined to continue pursuing ways to respect international human rights norms such as the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights, including dialogues with stakeholders, in accordance with the Sumitomo Corporation Group’s Human Rights Policy.

We sincerely hope that the human rights of the people of Myanmar will be protected and the situation will be resolved peacefully at the earliest possible timing.