Myanmar's military Government will not prevent opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi from taking national office in future, the head of the ruling junta has said, according to a senior Japanese official. The remarks follow a meeting yesterday between Japanese Premier Junichiro Koizumi and Myanmar's Senior General Than Shwe on the sidelines of the two-day Asean summit in Brunei. The comments, from a Tokyo official, appeared to signal a further commitment on the part of the Yangon administration to continued, gradual democratic reform. 'We do not care what kind of position Aung San Suu Kyi would hold in the course of democratisation,' the official quoted General Than Shwe as telling Mr Koizumi. 'If Aung San Suu Kyi was elected in votes, it is democracy and is not what we should meddle in.' Ms Aung San Suu Kyi headed the National League for Democracy (NLD), which won a national election in Myanmar in 1990, two years after the military seized power in a bloody crackdown. The election result was, however, not recognised by the military, which has run the country for most of the past four decades. Ms Aung San Suu Kyi was placed under house arrest for five years until 1995, but has been back in detention since October last year. Tokyo has better relations with the military administration in Yangon than many Western and Asian governments. Despite criticism from human rights groups, Japan resumed aid donations to Myanmar in 1994, shortly before Ms Aung San Suu Kyi's release. Japan has said that the resumption of humanitarian aid to one of Southeast Asia's most repressive regimes was intended to induce the junta to accept democratic change, an explanation that was repeated yesterday. 'We welcome your efforts for freeing political prisoners and we ask for you to continue. International society is closely watching the role of Aung San Suu Kyi,' Mr Koizumi was quoted as having said. 'We hope you will recognise this and make further efforts for democracy.' In the past year, a special representative from the United Nations has attempted to liaise with both sides in Myanmar in a bid to promote moves towards democracy. The junta has released several NLD activists and said it was committed to a peaceful transition to parliamentary-style democracy. In July, Japanese Foreign Minister Makiko Tanaka told Myanmar counterpart Win Aung that Tokyo would work to help to improve the country's antiquated power-generation programme.