On 29 June 2023, the Council on Ethics recommended to exclude the company KDDI from investment by the Norwegian Government Pension Fund Global (GPFG) due to an unacceptable risk that the company is contributing to serious violation of the rights of individuals in situations of war and conflict. The recommendation relates to the company’s telecom operations in Myanmar.

KDDI is a Japanese integrated provider of telecommunication. The company is partner in a joint venture which has a Joint Operation Agreement with Myanma Posts and Telecommunications (MPT). KDDI provides technology and engineering capacity to MPT.

On 1 February 2021, the armed forces in Myanmar staged a military coup. Since the coup, the military has intensified its gross abuses against the civilian population. Telecom providers in Myanmar have been ordered to install and activate spyware and surveillance software. It is known that the surrender of personal data has enabled political monitoring of human rights activists, political opponents and other individuals.

Although KDDI plays no direct role in the surveillance, the Council presumes that the company is aware that MPT has installed and activated tools. There is a considerable risk that MPT will continue to surrender customer data that will enable serious abuses to be perpetrated on the civilian population. The Council concludes that as long as KDDI’s partnership with MPT persists, the risk of the company contributing to the violation of the rights of individuals in situations of war or conflict will remain at an unacceptable level.

On 18 December 2023, Norges Bank decided to place KDDI under observation, and has asked the Council to follow developments in the case.

Please find the Council’s recommendation here.