Myanmar goalkeeper famous for three-finger salute seeks asylum in Japan

Myanmar footballer Pyae Shan Aung flashes the three-finger-salute in Japan.
Myanmar footballer Pyae Shan Aung flashes the three-finger-salute in Japan.

Myanmar national football team player Pyae Shan Aung, who is in Japan for the 2022 World Cup qualifiers, has refused to return to Myanmar and has expressed his desire to seek asylum in Japan, according to Japanese media.

Aung was expected to leave Japan via Kansai International Airport on June 16 with his teammates, but reportedly left the group to meet with legal advisers. 

“I made up my mind and then I told reporters at Kansai International Airport in Osaka early on June 17 that I would apply for refugee status,” the substitute goalie said. 

Aung added that he would return to Myanmar if the government led by State Counselor Aung San Suu Kyi, who was ousted in the Feb. 1 coup, returned to power.

On May 28, Aung came under the global spotlight when he flashed the three-finger salute — a symbol of resistance against the military coup — while singing the national anthem before his team’s match against Japan. On his fingers were the words, “We need justice” written in English.

Aung also said he has no life insurance in Myanmar, and fears that he may be arrested at the airport if he returned. An acquaintance of his told Coconuts that he is likely to succeed in getting the asylum.

The Japanese government announced on May 28 that Myanmar nationals in Japan would be allowed to stay in Japan if they wished because of the unrest caused by the Feb. 1 coup. 

On the pitch, things aren’t looking promising for Myanmar’s football team, after having lost 4-0 to Tajikistan and collecting only six points in its qualifier group. Leaders Japan is on top with 24 points. 

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