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Democracy Activities in Japan

DBSO Hosts Rangoon University Diamond Jubilee

On December 24, Democratic Burmese Students Organization (DBSO) hosted a
day-long festival in Tokyo to mark the 75th Anniversary of Rangoon
University.  The morning was filled with speeches by RASU graduates
(including Zaw Zaw from DBSO on *Students and Politics,* Dr. Tun Aye of
Burmese Association in Japan on *Rangoon University and U Ne Win,* NHK
Radio's U Shwe Ba (Hisao Tanabe) on *The University I Attended,* poet Maung
Pan Hmwe on *Poems from the University Environment,* and Dr. Myat Than, a
former RASU English professor, on *Teaching at the University.*)  The
afternoon featured a variety of entertainment, from traditional Burmese
music and dance by Mingala Doe to ear-splitting heavy metal by several local
rock bands. As a special treat, Democratic Voice of Burma's Mun Awng sang a
few of his own popular songs and also led, by popular request, the finale of
*Kaba Maje Bu.*  There was also a performance of *university anyint*
(*anyint* is unrehearsed comedy performed by two or more people).  The
several hundred guests who attended also enjoyed the displays, which
included the history of the university and the Student Union, poems,
cartoons, posters and artwork.  Too bad the biryani rice spoiled, but the
sarwin makin was delicious.  Good job, DBSO!

Tokyo Human Rights Lawyers Organize Seminar on Burmese Refugee Issues

On December 26, a seminar on the Burmese refugees was held at the Tokyo Bar
Association.  The seminar featured three panelists, Aung Naing, Maung Maung
Than and Mun Awng, who spoke about their experiences as refugees or workers
in the UK, Australia and Norway, respectively.  The meeting, organized by
Messrs. Azusawa and Watanabe (two lawyers who have been very active in
helping Burmese asylum seekers) and attended by other Japanese lawyers,
Burmese activists and a major Tokyo TV station, revealed that major
differences exist between the treatment of refugees in Japan compared to
these other countries. For example:

-- Japan regularly refuses refugee status to applicants who apply more than
60 days after their arrival in Japan, regardless of the dangers they face if
deported.  In none of the other countries is such a time limitation, if it
exists at all, enforced in such a narrow and discriminatory way.

-- Japan provides no assistance (housing, medical, employment, educational
or legal) to people who are being considered for refugee status.  The other
countries do.

-- Japan has no non-governmental organizations that help asylum seekers to
obtain refuge in Japan, only individual lawyers like Messrs. Azusawa and
Watanabe.  In the other countries, there are several NGOs and
quasi-governmental organizations to help asylum seekers.