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Japanese View of Burma's Economy, f (r)

Subject: Re: Japanese View of Burma's Economy, from Yomiuri

"Does Suu Kyi not realize that ASEAN's constructive engagement and China's
impressive economic inroads echo a
common chord within the Myanmar people?" -- Osamu Yasuda

Citizens of Burma, does this man speak for you?  If not, please let him
know.  He can be reached at the following address:

     Mr. Osamu Yasuda
     Nomura Research Institute
     134, Godo-cho
     Hodogawa-ku, Yokohama
     Kanagawa-ken 240 JAPAN

>January 18, 1996
>( Letters to the Editor can be sent to
>FAX #:  +81 3 3279 - 6324 )
>By Osamu Yasuda
>Special to The Daily Yomiuri
>The house arrest of Myanmar's pro-democracy leader Aung
>San Suu Kyi six and a half years ago was given only a small
>amount of play in most Japanese newspapers.  But when she
>was released those same newspapers emblazoned the news
>across their front pages and made a beeline to her door seeking
>In these interviews, Suu Kyi uses an apt expression to describe
>the current situation in her country: "If the sun is too hot, the
>people have no choice but to divest themselves of their
>clothes." This is really a piece of advice to Japan and other
>countries to exercise caution in resuming official development
>assistance to Myanmar.
>She is, in effect, criticizing the Association of Southeast Asian
>Nations for its "constructive engagement" strategy that is
>designed to open up Myanmar through the expansion of trade
>and investment.
>Whereas the United States and Europe maintain that economic
>sanctions are necessary to force Myanmar to change its hard -
>line policy, ASEAN believes that gradual economic
>development of the nation - expedited by their constructive
>engagement strategy -- can change the country's oppressive
>political climate.  ASEAN insists that Suu Kyi's release from
>house arrest is evidence that they have chosen the right course.
>These assertions are based on their own experiences.  Although
>the economic development of these countries was often
>described as being led by authoritarian leaders, each of the
>ASEAN members showed sustainable growth that allowed an
>expansion of the middle class.  And each is heading down the
>path to full democracy, even though progress is somewhat
>When a coup d'etat took place in Thailand in 1991, Japan
>continued its assistance to that country, while the United States
>cut it off.  The Thai people apparently believe growth through
>economic exchanges, not economic sanctions, will sow the seed
>of democracy in the country.
>ASEAN nations believe that what Myanmar needs is not a
>"north wind" in the form of sanctions, but abundant sunshine in
>the form of constructive engagement.
>The association expected Japan to resume ODA to Myanmar
>and that Japanese companies would leap at the chance to invest
>in the country as soon as Suu Kyi was released.  This was
>because ASEAN believed such assistance would expedite its
>efforts to bring Myanmar into its economic sphere and
>accelerate the country's transformation.
>But Japan gave short shrift to these expectations, with the
>government evidently finding in Suu Kyi's assertions reason to
>be cautious.
>Suu Kyi maintains that resuming ODA and investment at this
>time would only help the junta remain in power, without
>explaining why this would happen.  She has yet to come up
>with her own set of policies.
>While she was under house arrest, Myanmar's economy was
>transformed significantly because of the flow of foreign
>investment into the country.  Although construction machinery
>sent by Japan to improve Yangon's airport rusts away, con-
>struction of a road from China's Yunnan Province to Mandalay
>and construction of a new airport have made impressive
>progress thanks to Chinese investment.
>Does Suu Kyi not realize that ASEAN's constructive
>engagement and China's impressive economic inroads echo a
>common chord within the Myanmar people?
>The people are naturally attracted by the prospect of affluence
>and dream about the country's economic growth.  With their
>English ability, they are quick to absorb information from
>When we talk about Myanmar and Suu Kyi, it may be useful
>to look at 1986 when Corazon Aquino became president of the
>Philippines.  People had high expectations because she was
>considered an ordinary housewife and there was a sense of true
>democracy in the air.  But she soon gained the reputation of a
>political amateur.
>Aquino may shine in Philippine history because she departed
>from Ferdinand Marcos' violent rule, but she lost her stature
>because of the nation's slow economic development.  Fidel
>Ramos, who succeeded Aquino in 1992, has put things on the
>right track.
>Is there any danger of Suu Kyi going through the same
>experience as Aquino?
>What Suu Kyi must do is show us that she has organizational
>ability and draw up viable policies.
>Right now, she appears to have no policy that would help her
>country move toward a brighter future.
>Suu Kyi has actually resided in her own country for a fairly
>short period - not much longer than her house arrest.  What she
>needs are people who can provide her with a real picture of her
>native land and help her to come up with real policies.
>Even if Suu Kyi takes over the reins of government, the
>problems now besetting the country will not disappear
>overnight - achieving progress in economic development,
>reconciling ethnic minorities and accelerating democratization. 
>The question that must be answered is: "How can the nation
>develop economically without permitting foreign aid and
>investment into the country?"
>In the early 1960s, the World Bank forecast that Myanmar and
>the Philippines were the two nations in Asia with the best
>chance of achieving economic growth.  More than 30 years
>later, the two nations lag far behind their neighbors.
>The Philippines is poised to make a fresh start under Ramos. 
>What about Myanmar?
>The tragedy of Myanmar is that those with little knowledge of
>economics had gathered the reins of power into their hands and
>they relied heavily on the military to deal with ethnic conflicts,
>a legacy of colonial rule.
>What Myanmar needs is not a Suu Kyi of nobel character but a
>Suu Kyi of political skill.
>(Yasuda is director at The Nomura Research Institute)