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Embassy blackmails Burmese in Japan

(Note: This is a summary from an English language newspaper of an article
that was first published in SHUKAN HOSEKI, a Japanese language weekly magazine.)
Mainichi Daily News, Sunday, January 21, 1996
Shukan Hoseki 1/25

	Foreigners working in this country must pay income tax to Japanese
authorities.  But only those from Myanmar are forced to pay a questionable
kind of overseas income tax to their own government.  SHUKAN HOSEKI takes a
look at this peculiar system which id doubling tax for Myanmarese in Japan.
	The magazine starts the investigative report with a disclosure by a
30-year-old Myanmarese who came here four years ago to work.  The informant
reveals to SHUKAN HOSEKI that he and other Myanmarese in Japan are asked by
the Myanmarese Embassy in Tokyo to pay 10 percent of their income in the
name of "tax."  The source explains that he is unwillingly following the
request because the embassy refuses to renew his passport unless he does so.
	Passports are not the only tool the Myanmarese Embassy is allegedly using
to collect money.  Without specifying the source, SHUKAN HOSEKI reveals that
a Myanmarese in Japan cannot open a bank account fro remittance in Myanmar
without an embassy-issued certificate of tax payment.
	To maintain passports and bank accounts, two essentials for them, most
Myanmarese here are paying either the minimal sum of 10,000 yen or 10
percent of their income to the embassy each month.  An informed journalist
estimates the embassy's annual tax revenue at 2 billion yen.  The journalist
goes on to suggest that the military regime in Yangon could be pooling this
revenue as secret fund or using it to purchase arms from China.
	"Money sent from Japan has a significant meaning for the military regime,"
reminds a 40-year-old Myanmarese in Nagoya, one of the brave few who have
been refusing to pay the questionable tax.  "It is natural for me to pay tax
to the Japanese government because I'm working here.  But it's wrong for the
Myanmarese government to collect tax from me."  The Myanmarese, now without
a passport adds, "It is a violation of international laws for the embassy to
refuse passport renewal for people like me who do not pay the tax."
	SHUKAN HOSEKI contacts the Myanmarese Embassy in Tokyo for an explanation.
A spokesman for the embassy admits to the magazine that more than 10,000
Myanmarese nationals in Japan are sending in tax money amounting to 10,000
yen each or more per month.  The spokesman maintains that it is their duty
to pay the tax because they left Myanmar by agreeing to this condition.
	The magazine wonders if tax collection on a foreign soil does not
constitute a legal problem.  "Collection of tax by the Myanmarese government
is not a subject on which we can or should state our view," offers a
spokesman for the National Tax Administration Agency.  But the same official
admits, "We've never hear of this kind of practice in another country."
	Another Japanese government spokesman, representing the Finance Ministry's
International Tax Affairs Division, informs SHUKAN HOSEKI it is absolutely
OK for the Myanmarese government to tax Myanmarese nationals in Japan.  But
the magazine is not satisfied with the explanation and asks an international
law expert.  The expert notes, "Tax collection is a sovereign act.
Collection in another country constitutes violation of that country's
sovereignty." Adds the expert, "If these people are willing to pay, it's OK.
But they are practically coerced into paying the tax.  The Japanese
government should take issue."