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re japanese investment burma, frenc

Subject: re japanese investment burma, french story!!! re Total French politics/business as usual

Dear Free Burma Activists and supporters, the following is a translated art=
icle from the Le Monde weekend edition, Saturday 18-19th May. I suppose cal=
ling Burma, by the Slorc nomenclature, " Myanmar "is a small consolation in=
deed. It is once again signed by Jean-Claude Pomonti, Slorc propogandist ch=
ez Le Monde (see Le Monde, May 3, 1996, " Political Stability in South East=
 Asia is the fruit of exceptional economic dynamism ", and Philippe Pons. B=
ear in mind, with the French economy still grimping in recession and unempl=
oyment, the media has highlighted Asia as a target for French businesses in=
 a splendid post-colonial grab for profits, irregardless of  the absence of=
 any significant humanitarian strategy for the region apart from the typica=
l harping about human rights and democracy while forging deep economic ties=
 with repressive regimes.
- Dawn Star, UVI.net, Paris =

Headline: " Le Monde ", French national daily, alarmed by new Japanese inve=
stment in Burma
Keywords : Burma investment, All Nippon Airways (ANA), =

Date: May 18 1996
Source: Le Monde, UVI.net
Section: ebn
Rubrique: BurmaBiz/japan

According to a recent report in the French national daily, Le Monde (" Burm=
a attracts increasing number of foreign investors; dissident Aung San Suu K=
yi, calls for boycott of junta ", May 18 1996), All Nippon Airways (ANA) wi=
ll be the first airline company from a great industrial power to carry regu=
lar flights from Burma. From June 25, ANA will fly two weekly fights betwee=
n Osaka and Rangoon. That is a major change, for Burma, hitherto unable to =
get its " Visit Myanmar 1996 " tourist bonanza of the ground. Until the Jap=
anese decision, the only international airline companies landing in the Bur=
mese capital  was Thai International. Furthermore, the announcment follows =
the arrival of top Burmese junta Brigadier General David Abel's business mi=
ssion to Tokyo. As National Planning and Economic Development Minister, Gen=
=2E David Abel is largely considered to be the key architect controlling Bu=
rma's business strategy with foreign countries and their corporate or indiv=
idual investors. Jean-Claude Pomonti, and Philippe Pons, authors of the Le =
Monde article, report  the ANA commercial deal annoncement as " showing the=
 interest that Japan holds for a country in favor of the recent decision to=
 renew Japanese government aid (ODA) along with Japanese companies now will=
ing to invest tens of millions of dollars " in Burma. =

But the formerly staunch socialist newspaper, renowned for its astute diplo=
matic analysis and literary style, appears now more cautious towards the ec=
onomic boom scenario  orchestrated by the junta generals. Japan was first t=
o renew its government loans, frozen since 1988, and cautioned on the relea=
se of democratic dissident leader, Daw Aung San Suu Kyi. Staunch refusal by=
 Slorc (State Law and Order Restoration Council) towards dialogue with the =
NLD democratic party, nor  efforts to encourage the process of democratic l=
iberalisation resulted in Tokyo's insistnce, last December,  to review gove=
rnment aid loans on a 'case by case " basis, in other words, no aid except =
for humanitarian projects.

Efforts for the promotion of democracy by the recipient country figure domi=
nant in the four principles underlying the  Japanese foreign aid program la=
yed down in 1992. Embarrassed by China and its utter disregard for human ri=
ghts compiled with its increased military spending and continued atomic wea=
pon testesting, Japan is looking, in Burma, for some success in accordance =
with its foreign aid guidelines. Last October, Tokyo granted $16 million do=
llars to a Burmese project for the rebuilding of a school for nurses, and c=
redited  $1.4 million in refinancing part of the Burmese foreign debt. Limi=
ted as it was, the gest in November, during the visit in Tokyo of Slorc's m=
inister of foreign affairs Ohn Gyaw, was not followed by renewed increased =
credit lending sorely needed to finance Burma's infrastructure construction=

Less hostile towards Daw Aung San Suu Kyi, i.e. pro-investment, pro-Slorc, =
pro- " Myanmar ", pro-Chirac than the rightwing french paper, Le Figaro, ow=
ned by the late Robert Hersant, the Le Monde story characterized the ANA  m=
ove as a sign that Japan is now lifting restrictions on foreign aid to Burm=
a, still, engaging " minutely detailed studies " on projects there. However=
, seriously overlooked is the real impact of Brigadier General David Abel's=
 trade mission to Tokyo, highly received by Japanese trade barons, closely =
linked with the Japanese state-dominated hierachy of immense corporate powe=
r, starting with Mitsubishi Corp., one of the world's largest corporate emp=
ires. Concern for human rights seems to be a great game of brandishing a do=
uble-language diplomacy by the democracies out to teach their economic comp=
etitors and markets a lesson in fair business practices, and despite the ma=
ny " studies " and " White Papers " elevating human rights to an unconditio=
nal prerequisite for investment, the French, British, and Japanese governme=
nts have given a green light to doing business in Burma. Meanwhile, the Whi=
te House has so far balked at sanctions, and put the question  in the  Bill=
 S.1511 before the Senate next week. =

Until 1988, Japanese companies  was the leading group of foreign revenue fo=
r  the burmese generals, not including their alleged profits from the drug =
traffic. Since, Marubeni has been the only Japanese company that has remain=
ed firmly rooted there. Recently, Marubeni won a $57 million dollar irrigat=
ion contract. =

Sumimoto Corp., has embarked on a $10 million telecommunications developmen=
t project. The Bank of Tokyo has reopened its Rangoon office, and strongly =
criticizes the japanese government's reticence in front of growing foreign =

In typical French understatement, duplicity or ambiguity, -call it what you=
 like, -flat outright " mensonge ", and untruth, the Le Monde story avoids =
all reference to French economic investment in Burma, and deliberately supp=
resses mention of Total's billion dollar gas pipeline due to be completed i=
n 1998. Reports of forced labor on the " Death Pipeline " pass largely igno=
red as cheap democratic propoganda. Despite French complicity in propping u=
p Burma's junta, the Le Monde carries democratic dissident leader Daw Aung =
San Suu Kyi's appeal
not to invest in Burma unless it clearly contributes  to the democratic pro=
cess of liberalisation, re. dialogue and a mulitparty system of government.=
 She accuses the Japanese businessmen in Rangoon of indifference to the suf=
fering of her people reduced to slaves in conditions of forced labor which =
she compares to the crimes on the " Death Railway " by the Imperial Japanes=
e Army during the military occupation of Burma in World War II. And the fre=
nch journalists cite Suu Kyi's appeal to the British to boycott Burma, as t=
hough, on the other hand, she approved of French investment!

Le Monde's story, published as it was only days after TF1 featured a prime-=
time news report on instability and economic investment in Burma, which als=
o featured a short video of Daw Aung San Suu Kyi,  clearly  informs the Fre=
nch of her appeals to the West that investment in Burma does little for the=
 people of the country but only enriches its dictators and partners. She ha=
s attacked the Bank of Tokyo and the Daiwa Bank for their investment in a s=
tock exchange based in Rangoon. And she has severely criticised Japanese fi=
rms for pillaging her country in a run for profits without dividends for th=
e people that remain poor and enslaved under the brutal military junta.

The Japanese are not lone investors in Burma, says Le Monde. As of March th=
is year Japanese firms had invested $119.8 million in seven enterprises, wh=
ile a sharp increase, it was still far behind " Britain, France, Singapore =
and Malaysia ". " Japan is by far the last " of the big investors. Thailand=
, mindful to calm the difficult relations with her neighbor, Thailand unblo=
cked a credit of $150 million for the construction on an international airp=
ort in Mandalay, announced two months ago during the visit of Thailand's Pr=
ime Minister.

France, Switzerland and Germany find themselves alongside Japan for a renew=
al of credits to Burma by the International Monetary Fund, blocked by the A=
merican veto as the United States continues to insist on democratic reforms=
, respect for human rights, and an end to the heroin traffic, which, as in =
Afganistan, has become a world producer of opium ever since the the Burmese=
 generals took power in 1988.

" Japan ", according to Le Monde, " thus finds itself on the 'en ligne de m=
ire' (on the  firing line ) as it is the sole industrial power, except for =
China which sells  arms Rangoon ", to open its door to foreign aid assistan=
ce. " Furthermore,  the Japanese decision is without any political breakthr=
ough by the junta which has restricted the freedom of Daw Aung San Suu Kyi =
and her supporters in the NLD. On the contrary, writes Le Monde, her moveme=
nts have been more and more controlled, and her friends and collaborators a=
rrested.  =

For the French Le Monde, the Japanese government's  foreign  policy of atta=
ching aid  to Burma in the anticipation of a softening of the Slorc dictato=
rship, and  renewing Japanese investment in Burma, has been " a failure ". =
Apparently, the French have no intentions of tying human rights to business=
 exploitation. And while President Chirac globe-trots the world from the Wh=
ite House, to Aisa, Africa and the U.K., what remains unambiguous is the to=
tal separation, " dans les affaires =E9trang=E8res" of any morality with pr=