Myanmar's de facto leader Aung San Suu Kyi has rebuffed international calls to revoke her Nobel Peace Prize over her failure to stop human rights abuses on Rohingya minorities.
In an exclusive with NHK in Tokyo on Saturday, she said, "I don't care about the prizes and honors as such. I'm sorry that friends are not as steadfast as they might be. Because I think friendship means understanding, basically, trying to understand rather than to just make your own judgement, but prizes come and prizes go."
The UN estimates more than 700,000 Rohingya have fled Myanmar to neighboring Bangladesh since security forces launched clearance operations in Rakhine state last year.
The country's State Counsellor says there's no quick fix. She said, "There are many people who do not even realize what the situation in the Rakhine state alone is like. Let alone in the whole of Myanmar, but these days, it's always quick fixes and instant gratification. Everything has to be done immediately and quickly. But we can't afford to do that, because we have to cope with the consequences in the long run."
Aung San Suu Kyi also spoke about the two Reuters journalists, convicted of violating the country's Official Secrets Act. They were investigating the crackdown. Amid concerns over the country's freedom of speech, the de facto leader stressed that Myanmar is following court procedures. She said, "I think we have to look at the situation to see whether it is actually a matter of freedom of expression or whether it's a matter of due process. Because under due process, they have every right to question the verdict of the court and they can appeal it."
She also said, "I think there is a lot of press freedom in Myanmar."
As tensions mount with the rest of the world, she reflected on Japan, saying, "We very much appreciate the understanding that they gave us in the first place. It's the understanding that's more important than the actual help. Help that is meaningful comes from a true understanding of the situation." She said she hopes for Japan's support in reconciling the gap of understanding between Myanmar and the international community.