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Burma Action Day

October 27, Burma Action Day, falls just a few days before an important (but
"unofficial") visit to Japan by SLORC's No. 2, General Maung Aye.  Maung
Aye, on his return from an appearance at the UN in New York, will be in
Japan from October 30-November 5 to meet with government officials and
business leaders to promote SLORC's economic reforms and beg for the
resumption of yen loans.  Although SLORC has received grants from Japan in
recent months, it has not yet been deemed eligible for low-interest yen
loans, which account for a huge portion of Japan's Official Development

On November 1, members of Burma Youth Volunteer Association, Burmese Relief
Center--Japan, International Network For Burma Relief and other groups will
protest Maung Aye's visit and Japan's increasing support for SLORC by
hand-delivering protest letters to the headquarters of Japanese companies
investing or planning to invest in Burma.  We want to link our protest with
Burma Action Day by asking Burmese democracy groups around the world to
write similar letters on October 27 opposing Maung Aye's visit and Japan's
current policy toward Burma.  Please mail or deliver the originals to the
Japanese consulate nearest you AND fax or e-mail copies to BYVA so that we
can include them in our protest.  Your participation can make a big
difference, because Japan is known to respond more to international pressure
than to domestic.

E-mail letters to <carol@xxxxxxx> or <soewin@xxxxxxx>
Fax letters to +81-3-3917-2147 or +81-3-3916-4996

Please target one or more of the companies below, or simply write a general
letter with the salutation "Dear Mr. Chairman":

Mr. Toyoh Gyoten, Bank of Tokyo: first Japanese bank to open a branch in
Burma since 1988

Mr. Isao Yonekura, ITOCHU: opened Rangoon office in 6/90; signed agreement
in 3/95 to develop Yadana offshore gas field

Mr. Sadakane Doi, Daiwa Securities: signed a memorandum of understanding in
12/94 to help set up stock exchange in Rangoon

Mr. Takuma Yamamoto, Fujitsu: planning a computer peripherals factory in
Burma; control US's Amdahl and UK's ICL

Mr. Kazuo Haruna, Marubeni: Joint venture for producing corrugated iron and
beverages; Mr. Haruna also led the 50-man Keidanren (Japan Federation of
Economic Organizations) mission to Burma in July 1994 to explore
opportunities for the Japanese  private sector

Mr. Masaharu Matsushita, Matsushita Electric: opening a sales center in
Rangoon; makers of Panasonic, Technics and Quasar brand electronics

Mr. Yotaro Iida, Mitsubishi Heavy Industries: Japan's biggest defense contractor

Mr. Koichiro Ejiri, Mitsui & Co.: agreement in 8/95 for $700 million project
to construct pipeline from Yadana (Total/Unocal) gas field to Burma; a 200
MW (gas) power plant and fertilizer plant near Rangoon and an $18 million
joint venture for an industrial park near Rangoon; partners with U.S.
companies Douglas and Unisys

Mr. Yasunosuke Ishii, Mitsui Engineering & Shipbuilding: 5/95 upgrading
Myanmar Shipyards and Thilawa Port

Mr. Y. Takeuchi, Nippon Oil: 20% of pipeline consortium; a partner of Caltex

Mr. Norio Ohga, Sony Corporation: opened showroom in Rangoon in 10/94

Mr. Tadashi Itoh, Sumitomo Corporation: installing phones, digital microwave
channels and supply equipment for fiber-optic phone systems

Mr. Takuro Bojo, Victor Company of Japan: makers of JVC equipment

Some economic points you may want to include:

Reasons NOT to Invest in SLORC's Myanmar

Political Instability: SLORC says it has made peace with Burma's insurgent
ethnic groups (most recently the Karen National Union), but these are only
temporary cease-fires.  Fighting has resumed, for example, in Kayah State,
where SLORC violated the terms of its own peace accord with Karenni rebels.
SLORC has NOT solved the problems behind the fighting; it has only forced
the rebels into a temporary retreat.  A pause in fighting does not equal peace.

Bloated Military Spending: SLORC remains in power only because of a large
military presence -- its goal is 500,000 troops, or one-third that of the
United States.  Military spending already consumes from one-third to
one-half the national budget.  The U.S. learned during the Vietnam Era that
a nation cannot have guns and butter; postwar Japan has reaped the benefits
of low military spending.  Increasing prosperity for SLORC leads to
increasing poverty for Burmese civilians, which leads to increasing civil
discontent, which leads to increased military spending, which leads to ...

High Inflation, Overvalued Currency: Inflation is estimated to be running at
about 40% in Burma.  Until recently, the official exchange rate was 6 kyat
to US$1 -- a distortion that kept away foreign investment -- but has now
been unofficially relaxed to a more realistic 100 kyat per US$1.  But this
adjustment has sent prices soaring -- even rice is a luxury for the average
Burmese citizen -- and the value of fixed incomes has plummeted.  The 1988
nationwide democracy uprising was caused partly by the demonetization of the
100-, 75- and 25-kyat banknotes.  Who knows where these latest changes will

Poor Allocation of Human Resources: Advancement in Burma depends not on
intelligence, skill or creativity: it depends only on connections with the
military.  Investors seeking local employees will be forced to choose from a
list of SLORC cronies  -- hardly Burma's best and brightest.  Meanwhile,
citizens who could rebuild their country are being wasted in menial jobs at
home and abroad (who knows how many university-educated Burmese wash dishes
in Japanese restaurants?) or are forced to slave on SLORC "development"

A Growing International Movement against Investors in Burma: Thanks to
consumer activism, a growing number of companies that once operated in Burma
have withdrawn, including clothes makers Levi Strauss, Eddie Bauer and Liz
Claiborne and oil company Amoco.  Several city governments in the U.S. have
adopted "selective purchasing laws," which make it illegal to buy from Burma
or any company that does business in Burma. A U.S. senator has introduced
legislation that would impose sanctions not only on SLORC but on countries
that do not adopt similar measures.

No Law at All: Businesses thrive where accepted laws promote and protect
investment, where contracts are enforced, where information relevant to
investment flows freely.  Burma has none of these qualities; how can it when
the government itself is illegal?  Contracts made between the military
regime and foreign companies may not be respected by the elected government
of Burma (they may not even be respected by SLORC, which has a long history
of breaking agreements).  Do you want to risk your money along with the
lives of 45 million Burmese people?