The body of a Japanese journalist killed during pro-democracy demonstrations in Yangon was brought back home early Thursday as Japan’s government considered reducing its foreign aid to Myanmar to protest his death.

Foreign Minister Masahiko Komura said Wednesday that Japan was preparing to suspend aid to Myanmar in response to the death of Kenji Nagai during last week’s military crackdown on street protests in Yangon despite repeated international calls to end repression.

“There have been calls to freeze aid entirely, but ordinary people in that country are already suffering. So we’ve decided to narrow down humanitarian aid for now,” Komura told a group of reporters.

Nagai was covering the Yangon protests for Japanese video agency APF News, and the company’s president, Toru Yamaji, brought the journalist’s body back from Myanmar, arriving at Tokyo’s main international airport on Thursday.

Nagai’s body, in a casket wrapped with silky pink cloth and carrying a bouquet on top, was to be sent to a Tokyo hospital. Police planned to conduct an autopsy to determine the cause of his death, Foreign Ministry officials said.

Japanese officials have said Nagai, 50, was clearly shot at close range, not hit by stray bullets as Myanmar officials had earlier explained, and demanded the return of the journalist’s video camera and tapes believed to have captured the shooting.

Late Wednesday, Myanmar authorities released a journalist working for a Japanese newspaper, the Tokyo Shimbun, after six days in detention, a paper official said. Min Zaw, a Myanmar national, was covering the street demonstrations and was taken from his home last Friday for questioning.

Japan, Myanmar’s largest aid donor, has already limited its economic aid to Myanmar to humanitarian assistance, and is now “considering cutting it back further,” Komura said.

Humanitarian assistance directly affecting the Myanmar public, including polio vaccination, should continue, but Japan is likely to freeze other projects such as human resource centers, he said.

In 2005, Japan provided grants totaling 1.3 billion yen (US$11.2 million; euro7.9 million) and 1.7 billion yen (US$14.7 million; euro10.3 million) in technology assistance, according to the latest ministry figures.

The monthlong protests in Myanmar climaxed last week with as many as 100,000 calling for an end to 45 years of military rule.

The government says 10 people have been killed in the demonstrations. But some activist groups place the death toll at 200 or more and say some 6,000 people have been arrested, including Buddhist monks who led the demonstrations.