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Burma as an international problem

Burma as an International Problem
Prof. Allan Patience from Victoria University of 
Technology speaking to the Burma NGO/Community 
Melbourne, 19 July 1995
 ...I was talking to Herb Feith on the phone the other evening 
and he said, "How are you celebrating?" and it hadn't struck me 
that really we ought to be celebrating. Daw Aung San Suu Kyi's 
release from house detention is a matter of great happiness. She 
is the symbolic focus of the disparate democratic forces in 
Burma, including the NLD, some of the ethnic minorities she's 
very significant for, not all, many of the student refugees in the 
camps and so on.
This marvellous, small and heroic creature, Aung San Suu Kyi, 
is very very important and they have, at least for the moment, let 
her out. She's not only that of course, she's also an international 
symbol of the repressiveness of SLORC and the abject tragedy 
of Burma--that it is today and that it has been, certainly since 
1988 and even well before that of course. Indeed, 1949 could be 
seen as the beginnings of the second phase of the Burmese 
tragedy, and I would argue myself that the whole colonial era 
too was a quite grotesque tragedy in many respects.
So let's initially celebrate, of course let's be pleased and happy 
that Aung San Suu Kyi is to some extent removed from the 
conditions which have prevented her from talking to the world 
as we might ask her to.
But herein too is a problem I think. While we celebrate we have 
to recognise that Aung San Suu Kyi's release is also potentially 
dangerous for us because the international community in its 
laziness, in its sloth, in its lack of imagination, may mistakenly 
imagine that its anxieties about Burma are now resolved; that we 
can stop worrying about the situation--she's out, so all is well. 
Well I want to suggest to you that Burma's problems are not 
resolved--though you of course won't need to be told that. They 
are not resolved, indeed, at all. In some respects the situation is 
even worse, with Aung San Suu Kyi being released.
This is firstly because Aung San Suu Kyi is only one among 
very, very many of the victims of SLORC in Burma. She's 
certainly a high-profile one and a very important one, perhaps 
even the most important one, but not the only one, and it's 
terribly important that we don't let the international community 
believe that it's somehow or other achieved something in its 
various odd and nefarious ways in seeing her release. So she's 
not the only one, and it's very important to retain our focus very 
dramatically on the situation in Burma at present (and as it's 
been for too long).
Secondly, though, Burma is an international problem, I want to 
argue to you. It's not a confined or a discrete pariah state, at all, 
outside the vaguely civilised anarchy of the international 
community. Far from it, Burma--and this is the theme of my 
talk this afternoon--is an international problem and I want to try 
and talk more about that at the moment.
We've lived for a long time--at least those of us who have to 
struggle in the mad world of academe interested in international 
relations theory and so on--in a world of states. Or we've 
imagined we've lived in a world of states. And I note that 
Professor Richard Falk from Princetown is here with us in 
Australia, right here in Melbourne at the moment. He's been one 
of the few early voices, well before the Cold War was (sort of) 
over, saying that in fact the world is very different from the way 
in which we've configured it, imagined it, interpreted it for our 
own political--quite specifically political--purposes, in terms 
of states; states acting in their own interests in what Hedley Bull 
calls the anarchical society, this way of just trying to bludgeon 
your own interests in a strangely configured international 
Now in that way--that orthodox, cold-war, international 
relations way--of looking at the world it's easy to talk about 
pariah states, and I want to suggest to you pariah states are those 
funny states that are generally small, self-isolated, "irrelevant" to 
the rest of the international community. It's a very convenient 
way of labelling certain kinds of state problems in that kind of 
international relations theoretical context, that some scholars, 
God help them, have been working [at] for so long--and indeed 
the majority of them in international relations theory. And the 
policy spin-offs, the policy consequences have been enormous, 
and they've led many of us in the world into believing that you 
can talk about states in this way, that these pariah states, these 
outsider states--small, self-isolated, irrelevant--states like, for 
example, Haiti, which is labelled 'evil' and pariahed therefore, 
or Bangladesh, a 'cot-case', it's unable to sort itself out, or Sri 
Lanka, with its problems of ethnic differentiation, or Cuba, 
which is a wayward state, outside the pail, can be ignored--
indeed it can be punished for being pariah. Most pariahs in any 
social context are punished anyway, and that's what we do to 
pariah states.
Burma, I want to suggest to you, has been viewed in orthodox 
international relations terms as a pariah state--and therefore one 
that we don't have to do anything about. Its self-isolation is its 
own fault. Its smallness, its irrelevance is seen as a way of 
indeed dealing with what are undoubtedly ugly and difficult 
problems in terms of, say, human rights and so on. But because 
of its pariah status and in terms of the way of configuring or 
thinking about international relations theory, in terms of talking 
about diplomacy in the modern world, we can say, "Well, 
Burma's gone outside the community, the international 
community, and there's nothing we can do about it." 
And indeed that's the way most foreign policy of most of the 
major states that might have had some influence on Burma, 
from Britain right through to the United States--to the present 
time that's how most of them have configured their responses to 
the madnesses of Ne Win, to the unbelievable brutalities and the 
economic stupidities that have been going on right from the 
1950s and that of course are now reaping a terrible whirlwind 
after 1988. 1988, I'd want to suggest to you, is a consequence, a 
direct consequence, of the pariah status, in the first instance, of 
Burma in the world, and secondly, in terms of what it's been 
doing to itself therefore, in its own history.
So what we are confronting is a way of looking at Burma, and 
dealing with it in foreign policy terms, in international relations 
terms, in global political terms, which indeed excuse the world 
from being responsible for it, from seeing it as an international 
Pariah states, once defined as self-isolated, irrelevant, small, 
inconsequential, not having a bearing on the international 
community in any significant way--once you can define states 
in those terms you can solve your own foreign policy problems, 
as it were. And while the Cold War was operating, so that we 
were locked into a kind of bi-polar superpower thraldom, that 
kind of pariah state analysis can create a certain kind of 
diplomacy and a certain kind of international politics that makes 
the Bosnias, the Cubas, the Haitis, the Bangladeshes, the Sri 
Lankas and so on, including Burma, possible.
But of course, as people like Richard Falk, and Joe Camilleri, 
and Jim Falk in Australia, and people like Malcolm Waters and 
others have been arguing for quite some time, in fact the world 
is not like that. The world is not a series of simple states 
operating in terms of their own sovereignties in world affairs. 
Richard Falk for years has been trying to persuade his foreign 
policy and international relations academic colleagues that in 
fact we live in much more than self-centred states, that the globe 
is much more than that, that there is such a notion as 
international politics which goes on despite the kind of power 
configurations, balances of power or balances of terror or 
whatever, or even the notions of cold-war politics and 
superpowerdom that we might have imagined are the realities--
the so-called realist approaches to foreign policy, that have 
dominated us in the past.
You can I think derive from Richard Falk's work the notion that 
whatever is going on anywhere is of significance to the whole 
world, that there are no such things as pariah states, that if 
indeed we let states isolate themselves, or if we isolate states--
and this of course is a problem for us when we come to looking 
to Burma in terms of it being an international problem and 
asking what is to be done--then we run up against some 
difficulties, but states that either isolate themselves or are 
isolated remain, if we follow Richard Falk's argument, 
international problems. There are no pariahs in the world, in 
fact, in state terms. They have to be seen as having 
consequences, you can't isolate them analytically and push them 
to the side and say therefore we don't have to worry about them 
in any kind of policy terms.
I'm wanting to suggest to you then that Burma is a very 
interesting illustration of the misleading nature of orthodox 
international relations theory, that now that the Cold War is over, 
we'll return to not only the academic foreign policy agendas, 
which on the whole are pretty irrelevant, except when they do 
influence major policy makers, and you see that happening in 
the United States where of course the Academy is profoundly 
powerful in foreign policy making, foreign policy analysis and 
foreign policy conduct. It's easy for the Kissengers to move 
from Harvard to the State Department in America, it's not so 
easy in Australia of course. Joe Camilleri will never go to DFAT, 
thank God for Joe's sake, but there is a different relationship. 
But in the United States the Academy, the International 
Relations Academy, I would argue, has been one of the most 
reactionary and powerful forces in creating cold-war diplomacy 
and therefore creating international problems like Burma, and 
creating them to the extent that they become grotesque parodies 
of morality and everything else, as we know Burma is at the 
present time.
So, my proposition is that Burma is not a pariah state in the 
sense that I've been talking about, the way orthodox theory 
would have us believe. I want to suggest to you that it 
constitutes an international problem. That is, Burma is a danger 
to the emergent post-Cold War international order. We can't any 
longer, I'd suggest to you, as a global community, an emerging 
global community, ignore Burma. Not because Burma is 
hideous in terms of forced labour or in terms of ethnic 
cleansing, in terms of human rights abuses, in terms of the 
destructiveness of democratic movements--social and political 
movements--there, but in fact in terms of its endangering the 
rest of the world. Now that's a pretty serious claim, and it might 
look odd, given that Burma has been isolated for so long, and 
has seemed so irrelevant for so long.
Now if I can go back just briefly to looking at the way I've been 
configuring cold-war international relations theory, to note that 
in fact the way we've thought about foreign policy, and the way 
we look at the relevance and significance of different kinds of 
states in the world, has been rigidly statist. Richard Falk, I 
believe--I didn't get to his talk--was talking about statism here 
in Melbourne just yesterday or today. By statism we're talking 
about these rigid political entities that have been the focus of a 
great deal of our foreign policy thinking in the past, which in 
turn have been dominated by superpowers--distorting normal 
communities, and distorting normal political developments in all 
sorts of ways.
That kind of international relations theorising and thinking has, 
as I've been suggesting, made Burma not only irrelevant outside 
the major political interests of so many foreign policy analysts 
and political actors in the world, in particularly the last ten to 
twenty years--maybe the last quarter of a century--but has also 
made Burma more and more of a danger to the international 
Now, the post-Cold War situation gives us an opportunity to 
recognise Burma as an international problem. Joe Camilleri and 
Jim Falk's book The End of Sovereignty, for example, in foreign 
policy analysis, has been a very exciting attempt to bring 
together the kind of Richard Falk argument, to show that in fact 
what happens anywhere in the world is of significance to the rest 
of the world; that if you do, for example, have human rights 
abuses, anywhere in Africa or in Latin America or in Asia, or, 
here in Australia in regard to Aborigines, or in the old Soviet 
Union and so on, that these are of consequence everywhere, 
because in fact with the increasing globalising tendencies--and 
we're not going to go back on these, we're going to have to 
confront these dramatically, for the rest of our lives, and they're 
going to become more and more intensified, these forces, 
drawing us together into an international context--will be very 
profound indeed.
One day when I was in Sakhan-thit village [Karen State, Brigade 
6], I was sitting on the veranda and wondering whether I could 
eat yet another bowl of rice with pumpkin tendrils, and wishing 
I didn't have to, but there they were, and suddenly some of the 
students who I was living with came rushing down the track, 
very excited, and said, "Important people are coming to see 
you." I thought, "Oh, that's interesting" and down marched a 
group of the Karen soldiers, some of the very senior officers, 
and they sat down very solemnly on the veranda and said, 
"Here's a document we want you to read."
It was a document on a Global Positioning System, a very 
sophisticated piece of computerised technology, for, as you 
probably know--x number of satellites in the sky that the 
American defence authorities put there years ago for defence 
purposes, they're now selling them commercially; in Japan 
almost every car now has a system that can connect to those 
satellites and can just set a navigational way for you to go, to 
wherever it is you want to go, and your car tells you if you are 
going the wrong way; incredible, amazing--well, these soldiers 
gave me this document and said, "Read it and tell us if we 
should buy a receiving system for this so that we can firstly, 
navigate the jungles, particularly at night and in bad weather, but 
also we might want to do some land surveying for more rice 
fields," which seemed to me a more peaceful purpose.
I said, "No, I can't evaluate this document, I'm not a computer 
expert, by any means. I haven't a clue about it." "But you must," 
they said, "you must know, you're a Westerner. You must know 
about it." I said, "No, I don't, but let's try and sent it to my 
colleagues in the University who are engineers, and they'll tell 
us." And that's finally what we did. But what intrigued me was 
that here we were in the middle of the jungle, making use of a 
globalised form of technology, which is really precisely what's 
happening in the world--they went ahead to get their piece of 
equipment in the end, on the recommendations of my colleagues 
at the Engineering Faculty at VUT. Whether it's going to do 
them any good, I don't know, but it's linking them into the 
world, into a global world in a very dramatic sort of way. It's a 
dramatic illustration of the globalising processes that are going 
Many of these globalising processes are of course hideous, 
worrying, frightening. A large number of them, too, I'd want to 
suggest to you, are very interesting and exciting. There are both 
progressive and very regressive aspects about them and 
eventually, I suppose, it's the task of people of goodwill 
everywhere to find out the good things, and to get with them and 
to develop those, and to try and counter the bad bits. But the 
process is going on--globalisation, internationalisation is here. 
The end of the Cold War is only part of a phase in that 
developmental process.
So, given that context it's much easier to configure Burma as an 
international problem; as I said before, Burma as a threat, as a 
danger in the emerging post-Cold War international order. That's 
how we should be talking about Burma today. That's how we 
should argue for an international response to Burma.
Now, there are all sorts of--I think--interesting reasons why we 
can highlight the international significance of Burma, apart from 
the very hideous processes of ethnic cleansing, forced labour, 
torture, human rights abuses and so on, that we can easily 
document--Yokota Yozo has for the UN, for the last three years 
now, presented some very dramatic documentary evidence of 
human rights abuses in Burma. It's there for us to read in very 
grim detail. He's an extraordinarily cautious international 
lawyer, he is not dangerously radical in any sense. Indeed, he 
goes to Burma--as he calls it--every year in the hope that he 
can find significant improvements in human rights situations. He 
longs to find those things. And every year he finds the situation 
worse, and comes back depressed. He's not a man who's going 
to write the situation even worse than it is. He's going each time 
to try and see some glimmer that the international community's 
pressure has had some effect on the SLORC and he comes back, 
as I said, each time deeply worried that things are getting worse, 
not better. 
Now, in that symbolic sense, of course, and in a real sense, the 
consequences of those human rights abuses are terribly 
important in the region. The kind of politics, in social and 
cultural terms, that emerge from this kind of context is deeply 
worrying--has to be deeply worrying--for the international 
community. Because in a community where international 
violence is more and more dangerous, where you create cultures 
of violence, where you create cultures of war and hatred and 
brutality, and they begin reproducing themselves, very 
significantly, then you create a massively destabilising problem, 
which will spill over into other contexts.
Thailand, for instance, is emerging more and more as a problem, 
a different kind of international problem, largely because of the 
AIDS pandemic in Thailand, I would suggest to you. Thailand is 
a biological sort of time bomb, ticking away with increasingly 
terrifying consequences for us. When Thailand becomes more 
and more destabilised as in some respects I suppose other parts 
of the world have, eg. Rwanda, because of AIDS, then you need 
to be worried. If you've got a culture of violence, a culture of 
war, growing as you do have in the context of Burma, because 
of SLORC, then putting that together with what might be going 
on in Thailand means immediately that ASEAN has got a very 
serious problem waiting to happen.
But we can also point not to such medium or even long term 
problems to argue very strongly that Burma's an international 
problem. Firstly I'd put to you the relationship between 
SLORC--the Government of Myanmar, if you like--and China, 
is an immediate short term reason for us to consider the 
difficulties and problems of Burma as an international problem.
Now the relationship with China is of course one of a China 
that's emerging, increasingly, not simply as an economic 
superpower--which it is rapidly becoming in the light of Deng's 
reforms since 1978, and which are taking off in ways that Deng 
never imagined and which the Chinese never imagined, I think; 
China's emergence as an economic superpower early in the 21st 
century will be one of the very important realities in the 
region--but China too as a military superpower. It's already the 
biggest standing army in the world--nearly 3 million soldiers, 
massive (now) nuclear weapons stockpiles, increasingly it's 
developing its nuclear military might--so China is becoming a 
very interesting and worrying reality, internationally, but 
particularly in the region. And therefore Burma's relationship--
or SLORC's relationship--with that kind of China has to be of 
significance for the international community.
China-SLORC constitutes then part of the equation that equals 
Myanmar as an international problem, an international worry. 
And of course Myanmar's role--and I'm using 'Myanmar' here 
deliberately, it's that part of Burma that is cooperating so closely 
with China--in relation to China's increasingly significant 
interests in the Indian Ocean and the access that Burma 
constitutes for China in the Indian Ocean is very, very important 
indeed. So China, then, constitutes the second part of my 
The third part of my argument about Burma as an international 
problem relates to drugs. And opium, and the role of drug lords, 
drug merchants in the world again constitutes Burma as an 
international problem--I don't need to say a great deal about 
that; it is fairly obvious, I'd suggest.
So, we could go on, I suppose, ticking off all sorts of grounds 
on which we'd try and define Burma as an international problem 
The data is there. I think the strongest part of the argument 
focuses around the issues of the brutality, the totalitarianism of 
SLORC. Totalitarianism is rapidly becoming, I'd suggest to you, 
in an internationalising, globalising world, a fairly 
counterproductive form of government--it always has been, of 
course, but more and more so. But that doesn't mean to say that 
it won't have these terrible spin-offs, and the development of a 
culture that is reproducing itself in terms of violence and war is, 
for me, the most worrying aspect about Burma as an 
international problem.
We have to ask finally, "What is to be done? What does an 
international community do to 'Burma as an international 
problem'?" Well, of course, the first thing the international 
community has got to do, and I go back to my early remarks, is 
to stop believing that somehow or other the release of Daw 
Aung San Suu Kyi is the end of the problem. It's the beginning, 
not the end, of the problem.
We of course don't know yet what the release means--it may be 
quite short-lived, and my great fear is that it's precisely that, 
particularly if Aung San Suu Kyi begins to get into very close 
contact with both Burmese democratic groups and international 
groups. I was in agony the other day--I wrote her a letter, just to 
say how delighted I was; she's never met me, and probably 
never will, but I just felt that I wanted to celebrate somehow. 
And I wondered, should I send the letter or not. Will SLORC 
use it as evidence that--if lots and lots of people are writing to 
her--here is a dangerous person, and they'll trump up some 
charge yet again. In the end I took the risk, and posted the letter. 
I don't think that Allan Patience from VUT is going to be seen 
as a huge problem for SLORC, but you can imagine if lots and 
lots of people round the world are writing to her, as I suspect 
they are, I hope they are, then this could even endanger her. But 
what it means we don't know yet, and we've got to watch very 
closely, and worry and wonder, I suppose. But it's important that 
the international community doesn't see this as the end of the 
It's important for the international community to start looking at 
the two major policy approaches to Burma that appear--appear 
only, I think, I don't think it is true--to...have resulted in the 
release of Aung San Suu Kyi. There's the 'benchmark' policy 
that people like Gareth Evans favour--giving SLORC a series 
of benchmarks, a series of hurdles to jump over, in order to be 
brought out of its pariah status (if it is a pariah state at all) into 
the international community in some kind of economically, and 
ultimately, of course, politically meaningful way.
Incidentally, when I was talking about pariah states earlier, I 
think one of the important things to note is that there is, in fact, 
at the end of the day no such thing as a pariah state. States that 
appear to be outside the international community are in fact 
engaged generally in a range of nefarious relations with other 
states anyway. Haiti was of course a major source of 
international gambling money. People used to sneak in and out 
of Haiti--big businessmen from the States and Europe and so 
on. Prostitution, drug-selling and so on were very important, and 
still are, in Haiti--that immense pariah in global politics. 
Similar things are happening in other, so-called pariah states. So 
even if Burma has allegedly been a pariah state, it's not been a 
pariah state when we come to looking at the way in which China 
has been relating to it, the way in which, of course, the ASEAN 
states, largely through Thailand, have been surreptitiously, and 
openly, dealing with it, and so on.
So we have to work out--Is the 'benchmark' policy going to 
overcome its pariahedness? Or, is some kind of creative 
engagement, which is the ASEAN's favoured policy towards 
SLORC, is that the policy that we should be going to approach 
as far as dealing with Burma as this international problem, that 
I'm trying to suggest to you that it is?
I think, in fact, the world has got to recognise, firstly, however--
the international community's got to recognise--that Burma is 
the kind of international problem that I'm talking about, before 
an international response can begin to be devised. That means 
doing a lot more diplomacy internationally. It means giving the 
UN a major role, or the UN taking a major role.
So how do you get the US to push the UN into some kind of 
coordinating major diplomatic role in the region? Well of course 
I think the argument about heroin and drugs is very powerful 
and you can politicise Burma in terms of heroin, in the United 
States and hence in the UN perhaps. I also think that we can see 
an increasingly regional role, in regional politics, for Burma to 
be brought onto the international agenda. And here I'd argue 
very strongly that if an organisation like APEC is going to get 
off the ground it has to move very rapidly beyond being simply 
an economic or trade organisation. Which of course, while its 
early theorising has been very much in those terms, it's already 
moving away from. And that's an exciting possibility.
Here, two countries I think can play a role in relation to APEC, 
bringing Burma onto the international agenda--Japan and 
Australia. Japan because it desperately wants to be taken 
seriously in the international community, more and more. 
Japan's internationalisation process--it's asking what kind of 
role it can play in the emerging globalised international 
community--is to say that it wants to play a role largely 
cognisant with its non-military status, or its quasi-non-military 
status. Of course Japan has the seventh biggest standing army in 
the world, which is not bad for a state that constitutionally is not 
allowed to have an army. But it does. Self-Defence Force 
Agency is a potentially very potent military organisation, 
internationally or regionally. 
Now Japan is asking lots of questions. Its new and emerging 
political parties are trying to find a role internationally for 
Japan, and indeed I would argue that political stability in Japan 
will only re-emerge, and there is enormous political instability in 
Japan at the present time, after these questions about the 
international role that Japan wants to play and how it will play it 
have been settled.
So Japan has an interest, a very significant interest, in Burma for 
all sorts of interesting reasons which we can look at historically 
and so on. But it's incapable of playing out that interesting role 
while it's engaged in its own problems; it has to do it in a 
regional context. And APEC is the obvious regional context 
where Japan could begin to take a very significant leadership 
role in putting Burma onto the international agenda.
But Japan can't do this alone for all sorts of obvious historical 
reasons. You all are well aware that Japan still is wary of the 
problems of World War 2, diplomatically in the region. Japan 
can't initiate diplomatic strategies that are going to be easily and 
well regarded by its neighbours. Hence my argument that 
Australia can play a role. 
Australian diplomacy in relation to Burma, with Japan, would 
take APEC into a very dramatic international significance. At 
the present time APEC is in some significant trouble. And given 
that it's been one of the spearheads of the Australian 
government's regionalising policy, in response to Australia 
being a very lonely country now, in global terms, then if APEC 
disappears Australia has a very serious credibility problem on its 
hands. So Australia, I'm wanting to suggest to you, has also a 
very significant vested interest in getting APEC going as a 
diplomatic foreign policy entity. And that's why I'd suggest that 
some kind of international response through the United Nations, 
internationally, globally, is now feasible if we depict Burma as 
an international problem. Not as a pariah state, but as an 
international problem.
Now clearly this is going to involve a lot of involvement with 
China and that's again why I'd argue that APEC is the route that 
we have to take in trying to look for this kind of solution.
Well, I've been throwing around a lot of general ideas and I'm 
sure you've got lots of interesting and critical comments to 
make, and contributions to make, so let me leave it there and we 
can perhaps throw it open to a more general discussion.
Q: Allan, I was wondering what particular section of the 
Japanese administration or community has an interest in 
perceiving Burma as an international problem, because as soon 
as Suu Kyi was released, they announced the immediate 
restoration of investment loans to Burma, and seemed to be 
cooperating very closely in terms of constructive engagement.
AP: Well, I think in Japan there are two groups really that are 
very interested in what's going on in Burma--there's MITI (The 
Ministry of International Trade and Industry) which is 
desperately trying to find solutions to Japan's deepening 
recession and any source of investment and trade now in the 
region is of great significance to MITI. Japan's trade is 
declining. It's in trouble in terms of the trade war with the 
United States. It's in trouble with Europe, very significantly--
there's increasing conflict there.
It's very interesting historically to see what's going on with the 
United States and Japan on the one hand and Europe and Japan 
on the other, in terms of historical parallels with the period in 
the 1930s. We're not learning our history terribly well and the 
increasing isolation of Japan--Japan being made the victim, 
being blamed for lots of things that it's not guilty of--is very 
worrying. But so far Japan's response via MITI in economic 
policy terms has been, I think, on the whole constructive.
So there's a whole area of economic policy makers who are 
interested in it. But then there is in Japan a group which are 
focused and are under the umbrella of the Japanese Foreign 
Affairs Ministry, the Gina-sho, and it's called the Japanese 
Institute of International Affairs. Now that's not to be confused 
with the Australian or the British Institutes of International 
Affairs, which of course are independent bodies. The Japanese 
Institute is directly funded by the Foreign Ministry and it's a 
group of academics and other experts--journalists, intellectuals 
and the bureaucrats interested in foreign policy--who constitute 
a kind of highly financed research think-tank for Gina-sho, the 
Foreign Office.
Now the institute has a whole range of different working parties 
or working groups and there is an international human rights 
working group, under the chairmanship of Professor Akio 
Watanabe, a very famous Japanese foreign policy analyst, whose 
PhD is from ANU in fact--he's very close to Australia and very 
interested in Australian foreign policy. Now that group has taken 
a very active interest in terms of the human rights issues in 
Burma. It includes Yozo Yokota, the UN Rapporteur on human 
rights in Myanmar, and he's played a very significant role in 
trying to get the Foreign Office, the Foreign Affairs Department 
in Japan--the Gina-sho--to worry about human rights 
diplomacy as a spearhead for Japan being legitimised in the 
Asia-Pacific region.
And it's been very effective. Increasingly they're been taken up 
by Malaysia, by other ASEAN states, and so on, in these terms 
and it's from there, of course, that that group have been pushing, 
with some success, and of course a lot of failure, to get Japan to 
come out with some abject apologies for World War 2. And 
indeed it was that very group that almost got the Socialist Prime 
Minister, the present Prime Minister, to persuade his right-wing 
conservative allies in the coalition to enact a formal apology. 
They failed just at the last minute, but they got very close--it's 
the closest they've come yet, and it's that group that have done 
it. And they've only been doing it fairly recently. So you've got 
those two groups I think, effectively, operating at the moment.