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Action at Japanese Consulate

Action at Japanese Consulate

On the seventh anniversary of the August 8, 1988 massacre of 
Burmese pro-democracy demonstrators, the Massachusetts 
Campaign for A Free Burma delivered a letter of concern to the 
Japanese Consul General in Boston. The text of the letter is 
enclosed. A similar action took place at the Japanese Consulate in 
Los Angeles.

We recommend that other Burma Action Groups around the world join us 
in similar actions.  Japanese Burma activists have told us that the 
Japanese take keen notice of criticism from abroad. We can attest to 
the fact that the Japanese Deputy Consul General in Boston (who was 
in charge of the Consulate on that day in the absence of the Consul 
General) carefully read the letter in our presence and thanked us for 
our time.

Simon Billenness
Franklin Research & Development
(617) 423 6655 x225

Massachusetts Campaign for a Free Burma


August 8. 1995

Mr. Nobuyasu Abe
Consul General
Japanese Consulate
Federal Reserve Plaza
14th Floor
600 Atlantic Avenue
Boston, MA 02210

Dear Mr. Abe: 

We are writing to express our concern about the Japanese government's 
policy of closer economic ties with the Burmese military government.
We are doing this in solidarity with demonstrations and actions 
taken by Burma democracy activists in Tokyo and Bangkok.

We are sure that you share our delight in the release of Aung San 
Suu Kyi after almost six years of house detention.  However, Aung 
San Suu Kyi's release is not part of a move towards a political 
settlement by the ruling Burmese military junta.  Thus far, the 
junta has not responded to Aung San Suu Kyi's request for the 
release of all political prisoners and a dialog to negotiate a 
peaceful restoration of democracy.

Aung San Suu Kyi herself has stated that: "All those who are 
interested in democratic development in Burma should wait and 
see what is going to happen before they decide to change their 
tactics....Nothing has changed yet, apart from my release."  
Aung San Suu Kyi has also asked foreign governments and investors 
not to "rush" to restore trade and aid programs to Burma.
In May, the Japanese government resumed an insurance program for 
Japanese companies trading with Burma.  Japan is also reported to 
be considering the resumption of full-scale economic aid following 
Aung San Suu Kyi's release.  These actions by the Japanese 
government give the green light to Japanese companies to invest 
in Burma.  Itochu, Marubeni and Sumitomo are working with the 
Burmese military government on economic development projects.  
Within a week of Aung San Suu Kyi's release, Daiwa Securities 
announced its plans to open a brokerage in Burma to prepare for 
the re-establishment of a stock exchange.

By entering into agreements with the Burmese military government, 
Japanese companies risk becoming the target of a boycott. American 
companies such as ARCO, PepsiCo, Texaco and Unocal have already 
lost business because of their presence in Burma.  Earlier this 
year, the City of Berkeley, California, voted to boycott all 
companies doing business in Burma and other cities and states are 
expected to do the same.  In the Massachusetts legislature, a 
similar law has already passed the House and is currently being 
considered in the Senate.  As this legislation becomes law, 
Japanese companies doing business in Burma risk losing valuable 
contracts with American cities and states.

More importantly, the recent actions by Japan go against the 
clearly expressed wishes of Aung San Suu Kyi and the Burmese 
democracy movement.  We would strongly urge that the Japanese 
government and Japanese corporations consult closely with 
democratic forces inside Burma before taking any further actions.

We are somewhat encouraged by the recent statements by the 
Japanese Foreign Minister Yohei Kono.  At the recent ASEAN 
meeting, Mr. Kono is reported to have urged the Burmese military 
junta to "proceed towards democracy" and place stronger importance 
on human rights.  However, a few days before Mr. Kono's comments, 
the deputy Foreign Minister Hiroshi Fuduka again suggested that 
Japan might resume its Official Development Assistance program 
in Burma.

I would greatly appreciate it if you could communicate our 
concerns to the Japanese government and Japanese corporations 
considering doing business in Burma.