[Date Prev][Date Next][Thread Prev][Thread Next][Date Index ][Thread Index ]

Daw Suu "unreasonable" in not endor

Subject: Daw Suu "unreasonable" in not endorsing Japanese ODA  From the Daily Yomiuri

Content-Type: text/plain; charset="us-ascii"

Content-Type: text/plain; charset="us-ascii"

Please direct any responses to:
Letters to the Editor
The Daily Yomiuri
Fax:  +81 3-3279-6324

The Daily Yomiuri
Friday, May 17, 1996

ODA Talks with Myanmar Opposition Needed

By Hiroshi Yamada
Yomiuri Research Institute

Persistent U.S. criticism of Myanmar's human rights record has
compelled PepsiCo Corp. to withdraw from the country, but
Japanese businesses are pressuring their government for
prompt, full resumption of official development assistance
(ODA) to pave greater inroads there. 
Dissident leader Aung San Suu Kyi opposes the resumption of
ODA, saying that the aid, administered through the military
regime's State Law and Order Restoration Council (SLORC),
does not reach Myanmar's masses. 

When Suu Kyi was released from house arrest last July, Japan
approved several ODA projects, including 1.6 billion yen to
help enlarge a state - run university for nurses. 

ODA now is at a standstill, though, because the junta has
failed to take steps toward more democratic rule, and Foreign
Ministry officials are divided over fully resuming ODA. Only
five such projects are under way in Myanmar. 

Suu Kyi sharply criticized the program in an interview with
THIS IS Yomiuri, a magazine published by The Yomiuri
Shimbun, saying that only those with junta connections have
benefited from the construction work at the university, and all
the student nurses are members of the elite class. There is no
guarantee that they would work in the interest of people in the
future, the 1992 Nobel Peace Prize winner said. 

However, a visit to the university showed that the students
were not privileged; they are studying hard on small
scholarships, determined to serve Myanmar's masses. 

More nurse training is desperately needed after the former Ne
Win administration closed the country to foreign powers and
failed to improve the medical system, which has led high
officials to go to Europe for medical checkups. 

"It is selfish to oppose Japan's ODA resumption on the grounds
that it benefits SLORC," one Japanese diplomat said. "Even
though they love her, Myanmar people are now questioning
why Suu Kyi rejects assistance from a foreign country." Others
favor Japan's substantial ODA aid to Myanmar so as not to
miss the boat or alienate the junta government. 

There are a few facts that call for Japan's careful consideration. 

The U.N. Human Rights Commission recently adopted a
report by Tokyo University Prof. Yozo Yokota that said
human rights problems have not decreased since Suu Kyi was
freed from house arrest. 

U.S. President Bill Clinton and Prime Minister Ryutaro
Hashimoto recently renewed their commitment to democracy
and human rights in their joint declaration on Asian security
affairs, and the Japanese government has said it will consider
those two factors when deciding on ODA. 

When they do, Japanese officials should listen not only to Suu
Kyi but also to the Myanmar people. 

A close aide to Suu Kyi has complained that there has been
very little contact with the Japanese government. Japanese
officials should visit her to fully explain Japanese policies and
possibly change her views. 

Perhaps the Japanese Embassy in Yangon is loathe to do
anything that would annoy SLORC.  But by visiting Suu Kyi,
the embassy could dismiss any efforts for closer contact with
her on the grounds that it fully understood her views.

Suu Kyi has indicated that greater Japanese aid would benefit
only those connected with SLORC but this has not been
confirmed. Diplomatic officials need to get in touch with those
in the opposition camp to get an accurate picture.

Without Suu Kyi's support, extension of greater Japanese
ODA to Myanmar is unrealistic. At the same time, Japan must
also win the military junta's agreement.

Such efforts would contribute to the spread of greater
democratic principles in Myanmar.  The best position for
Japan on this issue could be found somewhere between
SLORC and the Japanese businesses. 

(Hiroshi Yamada is a senior fellow with the Yomiuri Research