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Myanmar's ousted leader Suu Kyi moved from prison to house arrest due to heat, military says

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Myanmar's ousted leader Suu Kyi moved from prison to house arrest due to heat, military says
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Myanmar's ousted leader Suu Kyi moved from prison to house arrest due to heat, military says

2024-04-17 18:04 Last Updated At:18:20

BANGKOK (AP) — Myanmar’s jailed former leader Aung San Suu Kyi has been moved from prison to house arrest as a health measure due to a heat wave, the military government said as it freed more than 3,000 prisoners under an amnesty to mark this week's traditional New Year holiday.

Suu Kyi, 78, and Win Myint, the 72-year-old former president of her ousted government, were among the elderly and infirm prisoners moved to house arrest because of the severe heat, military spokesperson Maj. Gen. General Zaw Min Tun told foreign media representatives late Tuesday. The move has not yet been publicly announced in Myanmar.

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A bus carrying released prisoners is welcomed by family members and colleagues after leaving Insein Prison Wednesday, April 17, 2024, in Yangon, Myanmar. Myanmar’s jailed former leader Aung San Suu Kyi has been moved from prison to house arrest as a health measure due to a heat wave, the military government said. On Wednesday it also granted amnesty for over 3,000 prisoners to mark this week’s traditional New Year holiday. (AP Photo/Thein Zaw)

BANGKOK (AP) — Myanmar’s jailed former leader Aung San Suu Kyi has been moved from prison to house arrest as a health measure due to a heat wave, the military government said as it freed more than 3,000 prisoners under an amnesty to mark this week's traditional New Year holiday.

Released prisoners sit in a bus and are welcomed by family members and colleagues after they were released from Insein Prison Wednesday, April 17, 2024, in Yangon, Myanmar. On Wednesday Myanmar's military government granted amnesty for over 3,000 prisoners to mark this week’s traditional New Year holiday. (AP Photo/Thein Zaw)

Released prisoners sit in a bus and are welcomed by family members and colleagues after they were released from Insein Prison Wednesday, April 17, 2024, in Yangon, Myanmar. On Wednesday Myanmar's military government granted amnesty for over 3,000 prisoners to mark this week’s traditional New Year holiday. (AP Photo/Thein Zaw)

Family members and colleagues wait for prisoners to be released from Insein Prison Wednesday, April 17, 2024, in Yangon, Myanmar. On Wednesday Myanmar's military government granted amnesty for over 3,000 prisoners to mark this week’s traditional New Year holiday. The signs show their family name. (AP Photo/Thein Zaw)

Family members and colleagues wait for prisoners to be released from Insein Prison Wednesday, April 17, 2024, in Yangon, Myanmar. On Wednesday Myanmar's military government granted amnesty for over 3,000 prisoners to mark this week’s traditional New Year holiday. The signs show their family name. (AP Photo/Thein Zaw)

A released prisoner is welcomed by family members and colleagues after she was released from Insein Prison Wednesday, April 17, 2024, in Yangon, Myanmar. On Wednesday Myanmar's military government granted amnesty for over 3,000 prisoners to mark this week’s traditional New Year holiday. (AP Photo/Thein Zaw)

A released prisoner is welcomed by family members and colleagues after she was released from Insein Prison Wednesday, April 17, 2024, in Yangon, Myanmar. On Wednesday Myanmar's military government granted amnesty for over 3,000 prisoners to mark this week’s traditional New Year holiday. (AP Photo/Thein Zaw)

A released prisoner is welcomed by family members and colleagues after she was released Insein Prison Wednesday, April 17, 2024, in Yangon, Myanmar. Myanmar’s jailed former leader Aung San Suu Kyi has been moved from prison to house arrest as a health measure due to a heat wave, the military government said. On Wednesday it also granted amnesty for over 3,000 prisoners to mark this week’s traditional New Year holiday. (AP Photo/Thein Zaw)

A released prisoner is welcomed by family members and colleagues after she was released Insein Prison Wednesday, April 17, 2024, in Yangon, Myanmar. Myanmar’s jailed former leader Aung San Suu Kyi has been moved from prison to house arrest as a health measure due to a heat wave, the military government said. On Wednesday it also granted amnesty for over 3,000 prisoners to mark this week’s traditional New Year holiday. (AP Photo/Thein Zaw)

Released prisoners are welcomed by family members and colleagues after they were released from Insein Prison Wednesday, April 17, 2024, in Yangon, Myanmar. On Wednesday Myanmar's military government granted amnesty for over 3,000 prisoners to mark this week’s traditional New Year holiday. (AP Photo/Thein Zaw)

Released prisoners are welcomed by family members and colleagues after they were released from Insein Prison Wednesday, April 17, 2024, in Yangon, Myanmar. On Wednesday Myanmar's military government granted amnesty for over 3,000 prisoners to mark this week’s traditional New Year holiday. (AP Photo/Thein Zaw)

A released prisoner is welcomed by family members and colleagues after she was released from Insein Prison Wednesday, April 17, 2024, in Yangon, Myanmar. On Wednesday Myanmar's military government granted amnesty for over 3,000 prisoners to mark this week’s traditional New Year holiday. (AP Photo/Thein Zaw)

A released prisoner is welcomed by family members and colleagues after she was released from Insein Prison Wednesday, April 17, 2024, in Yangon, Myanmar. On Wednesday Myanmar's military government granted amnesty for over 3,000 prisoners to mark this week’s traditional New Year holiday. (AP Photo/Thein Zaw)

Released prisoners are welcomed by family members and colleagues after they were released from Insein Prison Wednesday, April 17, 2024, in Yangon, Myanmar. On Wednesday Myanmar's military government granted amnesty for over 3,000 prisoners to mark this week’s traditional New Year holiday. (AP Photo/Thein Zaw)

Released prisoners are welcomed by family members and colleagues after they were released from Insein Prison Wednesday, April 17, 2024, in Yangon, Myanmar. On Wednesday Myanmar's military government granted amnesty for over 3,000 prisoners to mark this week’s traditional New Year holiday. (AP Photo/Thein Zaw)

Released prisoners are welcomed by family members and colleagues after they were released Insein Prison Wednesday, April 17, 2024, in Yangon, Myanmar. Myanmar’s jailed former leader Aung San Suu Kyi has been moved from prison to house arrest as a health measure due to a heat wave, the military government said. On Wednesday it also granted amnesty for over 3,000 prisoners to mark this week’s traditional New Year holiday. (AP Photo/Thein Zaw)

Released prisoners are welcomed by family members and colleagues after they were released Insein Prison Wednesday, April 17, 2024, in Yangon, Myanmar. Myanmar’s jailed former leader Aung San Suu Kyi has been moved from prison to house arrest as a health measure due to a heat wave, the military government said. On Wednesday it also granted amnesty for over 3,000 prisoners to mark this week’s traditional New Year holiday. (AP Photo/Thein Zaw)

FILE - Myanmar's President Win Myint shakes hands with Chinese President Xi Jinping, unseen, during their meeting at the Presidential Palace in Naypyitaw, Myanmar, on Jan. 17, 2020. Myanmar’s military’s spokesperson, Maj. Gen. General Zaw Min Tun, has told foreign media representatives late Tuesday, April 16, 2024, that 78-year-old Aung San Suu Kyi and the president of her former government, 72-year-old Win Myint, were among the elderly and infirm prisoners moved from out of prison because of the severe heat. The move has not yet been publicly announced in Myanmar. (AP Photo/Aung Shine Oo, File)

FILE - Myanmar's President Win Myint shakes hands with Chinese President Xi Jinping, unseen, during their meeting at the Presidential Palace in Naypyitaw, Myanmar, on Jan. 17, 2020. Myanmar’s military’s spokesperson, Maj. Gen. General Zaw Min Tun, has told foreign media representatives late Tuesday, April 16, 2024, that 78-year-old Aung San Suu Kyi and the president of her former government, 72-year-old Win Myint, were among the elderly and infirm prisoners moved from out of prison because of the severe heat. The move has not yet been publicly announced in Myanmar. (AP Photo/Aung Shine Oo, File)

FILE - Myanmar's President Win Myint shakes hands with Philippine diplomat Rosario Manalo, unseen, a member of the Independent Commission of Enquiry for Rakhine State at the Presidential Palace in Naypyitaw, Myanmar, on Jan. 20, 2020. Myanmar’s military’s spokesperson, Maj. Gen. General Zaw Min Tun, has told foreign media representatives late Tuesday, April 16, 2024, that 78-year-old Aung San Suu Kyi and the president of her former government, 72-year-old Win Myint, were among the elderly and infirm prisoners moved from out of prison because of the severe heat. The move has not yet been publicly announced in Myanmar. (AP Photo/Aung Shine Oo, File)

FILE - Myanmar's President Win Myint shakes hands with Philippine diplomat Rosario Manalo, unseen, a member of the Independent Commission of Enquiry for Rakhine State at the Presidential Palace in Naypyitaw, Myanmar, on Jan. 20, 2020. Myanmar’s military’s spokesperson, Maj. Gen. General Zaw Min Tun, has told foreign media representatives late Tuesday, April 16, 2024, that 78-year-old Aung San Suu Kyi and the president of her former government, 72-year-old Win Myint, were among the elderly and infirm prisoners moved from out of prison because of the severe heat. The move has not yet been publicly announced in Myanmar. (AP Photo/Aung Shine Oo, File)

FILE - Myanmar's lthen eader Aung San Suu Kyi waits to address judges of the International Court of Justice on the second day of three days of hearings in The Hague, Netherlands, Dec. 11, 2019. Myanmar’s military says Suu Kyi has been moved from prison to house arrest as health measure due to a heat wave. (AP Photo/Peter Dejong, File)

FILE - Myanmar's lthen eader Aung San Suu Kyi waits to address judges of the International Court of Justice on the second day of three days of hearings in The Hague, Netherlands, Dec. 11, 2019. Myanmar’s military says Suu Kyi has been moved from prison to house arrest as health measure due to a heat wave. (AP Photo/Peter Dejong, File)

FILE - Myanmar's then leader Aung San Suu Kyi delivers a speech during a meeting on implementation of Myanmar Education Development in Naypyidaw, Myanmar, Jan. 28, 2020. Myanmar’s military says Suu Kyi has been moved from prison to house arrest as health measure due to a heat wave. (AP Photo/Aung Shine Oo, File)

FILE - Myanmar's then leader Aung San Suu Kyi delivers a speech during a meeting on implementation of Myanmar Education Development in Naypyidaw, Myanmar, Jan. 28, 2020. Myanmar’s military says Suu Kyi has been moved from prison to house arrest as health measure due to a heat wave. (AP Photo/Aung Shine Oo, File)

Suu Kyi’s transfer comes as the army has been suffering a string of major defeats at the hands of pro-democracy resistance fighters and their allies in ethnic minority guerrilla forces. The nationwide conflict began after the army ousted the elected government in February 2021, imprisoned Suu Kyi and began suppressing nonviolent protests that sought a return to democratic rule.

Suu Kyi has been serving a 27-year prison term on a variety of criminal convictions in a specially built annex of the main prison in the capital Naypyitaw, where Myanmar’s meteorological department said temperatures reached 39 degrees Celsius (102.2 degrees Fahrenheit) on Tuesday afternoon. Win Myint was serving an eight-year prison sentence in Taungoo in Myanmar’s Bago region.

Suu Kyi's supporters and independent analysts say the charges were fabricated in an attempt to discredit her and legitimize the military’s seizure of power. The military had claimed that her National League for Democracy Party used widespread electoral fraud to win a landslide victory in the 2020 general election, an allegation independent observers found unconvincing.

According to the Assistance Association for Political Prisoners, an independent group that monitors casualties and arrests, more than 20,351 people arrested on political charges since the 2021 army takeover are still in detention, most of whom have not received criminal convictions.

Suu Kyi's health has reportedly deteriorated in prison. In September last year, reports emerged that she was suffering from symptoms of low blood pressure including dizziness and loss of appetite, but had been denied treatment at qualified facilities outside the prison system.

Those reports could not be independently confirmed, but her younger son Kim Aris said in interviews that he had heard that his mother has been extremely ill and has been suffering from gum problems and was unable to eat. Aris, who lives in the U.K., urged that Myanmar’s military government be pressured to free his mother and other political prisoners.

News about Suu Kyi is tightly controlled by the military government, and even her lawyers are banned by a gag order from talking to the media about her cases. Her legal team has faced several hurdles, including being unable to meet with her to receive her instructions since they last saw her in person in December 2022.

Whether the latest move was meant to be temporary was not announced.

Spokesperson Zaw Min Tun did not say where the released prisoners were being moved to in his remarks to U.S.-government funded Voice of America and Britain's BBC, but there was no indication it might be one of her own former homes. The lakeside house where Suu Kyi spent most of her years in house arrest is in legal limbo after a court-ordered auction in March failed to find a buyer.

Before being sent to prison, Suu Kyi was reportedly held in a military safe house inside an army base.

Other prisoners were released for the Thingyan New Year holiday, state-run MRTV television announced Wednesday, but it wasn’t immediately clear how many were pro-democracy activists and political prisoners who were detained for protesting army rule. Aung Myo Kyaw of the Assistance Association for Political Prisoners said the group had heard of 7-10 people released in Yangon and nine from a prison in the central regions of Magway.

MRTV said that the head of the ruling military council, Senior Gen. Min Aung Hlaing, had pardoned 3,303 prisoners, including 28 foreigners who will be deported from Myanmar. He also reduced sentences for others. Mass amnesties on the holiday are not unusual in Myanmar.

Family and friends gathered outside the gates of Insein Prison, in northern Yangon, waiting expectantly and scanning the windows of buses that brought the released detainees out of the vast complex. Some of those waiting held up signs with the names of the people they were seeking, in the same fashion as at an airport arrival hall.

Amid tearful reunions, Khin Thu Zar said she was happy, but that she would have to call her family.

“My family still doesn’t know about my release,” she said. She, like many political detainees, had been held on a charge of incitement, a catch-all offense widely used to arrest critics of the government and punishable by up to three years in prison.

Suu Kyi, the daughter of Myanmar’s martyred independence hero Gen. Aung San, spent almost 15 years as a political prisoner under house arrest by previous military governments between 1989 and 2010. Her tough stand against military rule turned her into a symbol of the nonviolent struggle for democracy and won her the 1991 Nobel Peace Prize.

Nay Phone Latt, spokesperson of the shadow National Unity Government, told The Associated Press that relocating Suu Kyi and Win Myint, instead of releasing them outright, was not satisfactory. The NUG views itself as the country’s legitimate administrative body and serves as an opposition umbrella organization.

He said all political prisoners, including those two, were unjustly detained and should be freed without conditions.

He said it was unacceptable for the military government to resolve its difficulties by playing political games, such as changing prisoners' places of detention and reducing sentences. The army's recent battlefield setbacks, including last week's loss to resistance forces of Myawaddy, a major trading town on the border with Thailand, is seen by many as underlining its increasing weakness.

A bus carrying released prisoners is welcomed by family members and colleagues after leaving Insein Prison Wednesday, April 17, 2024, in Yangon, Myanmar. Myanmar’s jailed former leader Aung San Suu Kyi has been moved from prison to house arrest as a health measure due to a heat wave, the military government said. On Wednesday it also granted amnesty for over 3,000 prisoners to mark this week’s traditional New Year holiday. (AP Photo/Thein Zaw)

A bus carrying released prisoners is welcomed by family members and colleagues after leaving Insein Prison Wednesday, April 17, 2024, in Yangon, Myanmar. Myanmar’s jailed former leader Aung San Suu Kyi has been moved from prison to house arrest as a health measure due to a heat wave, the military government said. On Wednesday it also granted amnesty for over 3,000 prisoners to mark this week’s traditional New Year holiday. (AP Photo/Thein Zaw)

Released prisoners sit in a bus and are welcomed by family members and colleagues after they were released from Insein Prison Wednesday, April 17, 2024, in Yangon, Myanmar. On Wednesday Myanmar's military government granted amnesty for over 3,000 prisoners to mark this week’s traditional New Year holiday. (AP Photo/Thein Zaw)

Released prisoners sit in a bus and are welcomed by family members and colleagues after they were released from Insein Prison Wednesday, April 17, 2024, in Yangon, Myanmar. On Wednesday Myanmar's military government granted amnesty for over 3,000 prisoners to mark this week’s traditional New Year holiday. (AP Photo/Thein Zaw)

Family members and colleagues wait for prisoners to be released from Insein Prison Wednesday, April 17, 2024, in Yangon, Myanmar. On Wednesday Myanmar's military government granted amnesty for over 3,000 prisoners to mark this week’s traditional New Year holiday. The signs show their family name. (AP Photo/Thein Zaw)

Family members and colleagues wait for prisoners to be released from Insein Prison Wednesday, April 17, 2024, in Yangon, Myanmar. On Wednesday Myanmar's military government granted amnesty for over 3,000 prisoners to mark this week’s traditional New Year holiday. The signs show their family name. (AP Photo/Thein Zaw)

A released prisoner is welcomed by family members and colleagues after she was released from Insein Prison Wednesday, April 17, 2024, in Yangon, Myanmar. On Wednesday Myanmar's military government granted amnesty for over 3,000 prisoners to mark this week’s traditional New Year holiday. (AP Photo/Thein Zaw)

A released prisoner is welcomed by family members and colleagues after she was released from Insein Prison Wednesday, April 17, 2024, in Yangon, Myanmar. On Wednesday Myanmar's military government granted amnesty for over 3,000 prisoners to mark this week’s traditional New Year holiday. (AP Photo/Thein Zaw)

A released prisoner is welcomed by family members and colleagues after she was released Insein Prison Wednesday, April 17, 2024, in Yangon, Myanmar. Myanmar’s jailed former leader Aung San Suu Kyi has been moved from prison to house arrest as a health measure due to a heat wave, the military government said. On Wednesday it also granted amnesty for over 3,000 prisoners to mark this week’s traditional New Year holiday. (AP Photo/Thein Zaw)

A released prisoner is welcomed by family members and colleagues after she was released Insein Prison Wednesday, April 17, 2024, in Yangon, Myanmar. Myanmar’s jailed former leader Aung San Suu Kyi has been moved from prison to house arrest as a health measure due to a heat wave, the military government said. On Wednesday it also granted amnesty for over 3,000 prisoners to mark this week’s traditional New Year holiday. (AP Photo/Thein Zaw)

Released prisoners are welcomed by family members and colleagues after they were released from Insein Prison Wednesday, April 17, 2024, in Yangon, Myanmar. On Wednesday Myanmar's military government granted amnesty for over 3,000 prisoners to mark this week’s traditional New Year holiday. (AP Photo/Thein Zaw)

Released prisoners are welcomed by family members and colleagues after they were released from Insein Prison Wednesday, April 17, 2024, in Yangon, Myanmar. On Wednesday Myanmar's military government granted amnesty for over 3,000 prisoners to mark this week’s traditional New Year holiday. (AP Photo/Thein Zaw)

A released prisoner is welcomed by family members and colleagues after she was released from Insein Prison Wednesday, April 17, 2024, in Yangon, Myanmar. On Wednesday Myanmar's military government granted amnesty for over 3,000 prisoners to mark this week’s traditional New Year holiday. (AP Photo/Thein Zaw)

A released prisoner is welcomed by family members and colleagues after she was released from Insein Prison Wednesday, April 17, 2024, in Yangon, Myanmar. On Wednesday Myanmar's military government granted amnesty for over 3,000 prisoners to mark this week’s traditional New Year holiday. (AP Photo/Thein Zaw)

Released prisoners are welcomed by family members and colleagues after they were released from Insein Prison Wednesday, April 17, 2024, in Yangon, Myanmar. On Wednesday Myanmar's military government granted amnesty for over 3,000 prisoners to mark this week’s traditional New Year holiday. (AP Photo/Thein Zaw)

Released prisoners are welcomed by family members and colleagues after they were released from Insein Prison Wednesday, April 17, 2024, in Yangon, Myanmar. On Wednesday Myanmar's military government granted amnesty for over 3,000 prisoners to mark this week’s traditional New Year holiday. (AP Photo/Thein Zaw)

Released prisoners are welcomed by family members and colleagues after they were released Insein Prison Wednesday, April 17, 2024, in Yangon, Myanmar. Myanmar’s jailed former leader Aung San Suu Kyi has been moved from prison to house arrest as a health measure due to a heat wave, the military government said. On Wednesday it also granted amnesty for over 3,000 prisoners to mark this week’s traditional New Year holiday. (AP Photo/Thein Zaw)

Released prisoners are welcomed by family members and colleagues after they were released Insein Prison Wednesday, April 17, 2024, in Yangon, Myanmar. Myanmar’s jailed former leader Aung San Suu Kyi has been moved from prison to house arrest as a health measure due to a heat wave, the military government said. On Wednesday it also granted amnesty for over 3,000 prisoners to mark this week’s traditional New Year holiday. (AP Photo/Thein Zaw)

FILE - Myanmar's President Win Myint shakes hands with Chinese President Xi Jinping, unseen, during their meeting at the Presidential Palace in Naypyitaw, Myanmar, on Jan. 17, 2020. Myanmar’s military’s spokesperson, Maj. Gen. General Zaw Min Tun, has told foreign media representatives late Tuesday, April 16, 2024, that 78-year-old Aung San Suu Kyi and the president of her former government, 72-year-old Win Myint, were among the elderly and infirm prisoners moved from out of prison because of the severe heat. The move has not yet been publicly announced in Myanmar. (AP Photo/Aung Shine Oo, File)

FILE - Myanmar's President Win Myint shakes hands with Chinese President Xi Jinping, unseen, during their meeting at the Presidential Palace in Naypyitaw, Myanmar, on Jan. 17, 2020. Myanmar’s military’s spokesperson, Maj. Gen. General Zaw Min Tun, has told foreign media representatives late Tuesday, April 16, 2024, that 78-year-old Aung San Suu Kyi and the president of her former government, 72-year-old Win Myint, were among the elderly and infirm prisoners moved from out of prison because of the severe heat. The move has not yet been publicly announced in Myanmar. (AP Photo/Aung Shine Oo, File)

FILE - Myanmar's President Win Myint shakes hands with Philippine diplomat Rosario Manalo, unseen, a member of the Independent Commission of Enquiry for Rakhine State at the Presidential Palace in Naypyitaw, Myanmar, on Jan. 20, 2020. Myanmar’s military’s spokesperson, Maj. Gen. General Zaw Min Tun, has told foreign media representatives late Tuesday, April 16, 2024, that 78-year-old Aung San Suu Kyi and the president of her former government, 72-year-old Win Myint, were among the elderly and infirm prisoners moved from out of prison because of the severe heat. The move has not yet been publicly announced in Myanmar. (AP Photo/Aung Shine Oo, File)

FILE - Myanmar's President Win Myint shakes hands with Philippine diplomat Rosario Manalo, unseen, a member of the Independent Commission of Enquiry for Rakhine State at the Presidential Palace in Naypyitaw, Myanmar, on Jan. 20, 2020. Myanmar’s military’s spokesperson, Maj. Gen. General Zaw Min Tun, has told foreign media representatives late Tuesday, April 16, 2024, that 78-year-old Aung San Suu Kyi and the president of her former government, 72-year-old Win Myint, were among the elderly and infirm prisoners moved from out of prison because of the severe heat. The move has not yet been publicly announced in Myanmar. (AP Photo/Aung Shine Oo, File)

FILE - Myanmar's lthen eader Aung San Suu Kyi waits to address judges of the International Court of Justice on the second day of three days of hearings in The Hague, Netherlands, Dec. 11, 2019. Myanmar’s military says Suu Kyi has been moved from prison to house arrest as health measure due to a heat wave. (AP Photo/Peter Dejong, File)

FILE - Myanmar's lthen eader Aung San Suu Kyi waits to address judges of the International Court of Justice on the second day of three days of hearings in The Hague, Netherlands, Dec. 11, 2019. Myanmar’s military says Suu Kyi has been moved from prison to house arrest as health measure due to a heat wave. (AP Photo/Peter Dejong, File)

FILE - Myanmar's then leader Aung San Suu Kyi delivers a speech during a meeting on implementation of Myanmar Education Development in Naypyidaw, Myanmar, Jan. 28, 2020. Myanmar’s military says Suu Kyi has been moved from prison to house arrest as health measure due to a heat wave. (AP Photo/Aung Shine Oo, File)

FILE - Myanmar's then leader Aung San Suu Kyi delivers a speech during a meeting on implementation of Myanmar Education Development in Naypyidaw, Myanmar, Jan. 28, 2020. Myanmar’s military says Suu Kyi has been moved from prison to house arrest as health measure due to a heat wave. (AP Photo/Aung Shine Oo, File)

TOKYO (AP) — “An engine reborn.”

That's how Japanese automaker Toyota introduced plans to cast a futuristic spin on the traditional internal combustion engine.

During a three-hour presentation at a Tokyo hall Tuesday, the car manufacturer giant announced it would offer lean compact engines that also run on so-called green fuels like hydrogen and bioethanol, or get paired with zero-emissions electric motors in hybrids.

This comes as many competitors in the auto industry are pushing for fully electric vehicles. China is revving its push for Battery Electric Vehicles, and its own BYD is threatening to outshine Tesla in that push.

Toyota’s Chief Executive Koji Sato said the “engine is optimized for the electrification era” with hopes of helping push the world into “carbon neutrality.”

Toyota already has a well-known hybrid car — the Prius — with a gas engine and an electric motor. It switches between the two to deliver a cleaner drive.

In future hybrids, the electric motor is set to become the main driving power, and the new engine will be designed to take a lesser role and help it along, according to Toyota.

Domestic allies Subaru Corp. and Mazda Motor Corp., both preparing ecological engines designed to meet the inevitably upcoming stringent emissions standards, joined Toyota 's presentation billed as a “multi-pathway workshop."

“Each company wants to win, but we can be faster if we work together,” said Sato.

But details on when the engines were coming to market weren’t disclosed.

The legacy of the car engine could be felt everywhere.

Mazda said that its prized rotary engine, introduced more than 50 years ago, was being adapted for electric vehicles.

Subaru, meanwhile, showcased its trademark smaller horizontally opposed engine. While Chief Technology Officer Tetsuro Fujinuki confirmed the company was working on a great “Subaru-like” electric vehicle, he said the company wasn’t about to dump the engine altogether.

Toyota, too, is working on stylish BEVs.

The executives said Tuesday that energy supply conditions differed globally, adding that products had to meet various customer needs and the investments needed for mass-producing BEVS were enormous.

Toyota officials also repeatedly noted that 5.5 million jobs were at stake in the overall supply chain for vehicle production in Japan nowadays, so a sudden shift to electric cars wasn’t economically possible or socially responsible.

Takahiro Fujimoto, a professor of business at Waseda University, believes electric vehicles are a key solution for reducing emissions. But they still have weak points, such as large amounts of emissions produced while making lithium-ion batteries, a chief component.

In Japan, for instance, commuters use trains, so that may be a better ecological choice for transportation, Fujimoto said.

“At the very least, I believe the proliferation of and innovations in BEVs are definitely needed. But that argument is logically not the same as saying that all we need are BEVs,” he said.

Uncertainties remain, spanning research and development, as well as social, political and market conditions, said Fujimoto.

“The carbon neutrality the world is aspiring toward isn’t likely attainable for decades to come. It’s going to be a long marathon race,” he said.

Yuri Kageyama is on X: https://twitter.com/yurikageyama

Koji Sato, chief executive of Toyota Motor Corp., speaks during a news conference in Tokyo, Tuesday, May 28, 2024. “An engine reborn.” That's how Japanese automaker Toyota introduced plans for a new lean compact motor that will cast a futuristic spin on the traditional internal combustion engine. (Kyodo News via AP)

Koji Sato, chief executive of Toyota Motor Corp., speaks during a news conference in Tokyo, Tuesday, May 28, 2024. “An engine reborn.” That's how Japanese automaker Toyota introduced plans for a new lean compact motor that will cast a futuristic spin on the traditional internal combustion engine. (Kyodo News via AP)

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