Myanmar junta suspends issuing permits for men to work abroad

Military rulers in Myanmar have temporarily suspended the issuance of permits for men to travel abroad for work, apparently to prevent draft-dodging.

Independent media and the Japanese Embassy in Myanmar say the military-controlled labor ministry disclosed that the suspension began on Wednesday.

They say the ministry did not give a clear reason for the measure or say how long it might last.

A troop shortage is hindering Myanmar's military, which seized power in a coup three years ago but is facing intensifying fighting with pro-democracy forces and ethnic militias.

The junta announced compulsory military service for people aged 18 and older in February, and began calling up citizens.

The move has prompted many young people to flee to neighboring Thailand, or join the pro-democracy fighters.

The latest travel restrictions could affect Japan, where some businesses rely on a traineeship system for additional manpower. The new measure by Myanmar will apply to men who wish to visit Japan as technical interns.