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Japanese reaction to NLD arrests. A
- Subject: Japanese reaction to NLD arrests. A
- From: brelief@xxxxxxx
- Date: Thu, 23 May 1996 07:14:00
Subject: Japanese reaction to NLD arrests. Asahi Shimbun/Asahi Evening News
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With friends like this! Japanese editorial reaction to NLD arrests:
"The cause for concern is that Suu Kyi and other leaders of the democracy
movement are seen to have changed their approach, adopting a desperate
effort to mobilize the masses to press for a breakthrough. This pent - up
discontent could erupt and very suddenly get out of control. The tragedy of
1988 proves that.
And because of that, we urge the democracy advocates to be cool - headed."
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Asahi Evening News
May 23, 1996
BURMA ARRESTS WORRY TOKYO
Prime Minister Ryutaro Hashimoto says he's keeping a
close watch after a crackdown on pro-democracy activists.
Japan on Wednesday expressed concern over Burma's
arrests of democracy activists and urged dialogue between
the country's military rulers and pro-democracy camp.
Prime Minister Ryutaro Hashimoto said the arrests of scores
of members of opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi's
National League for Democracy (NLD) "run counter to
"I am closely following developments," he told reporters.
Government spokesman Seiroku Kajiyama said at a news
conference that Tokyo "strongly hopes that the Myanmar
(Burmese) government will strive for democratization while
holding dialogue with officials from the NLD."
A source close to Suu Kyi said on Wednesday that Burma's
military authorities had rounded up 90 NLD members since
Monday, apparently to thwart a party congress planned from
The news came just hours after a Japanese news agency
reported that Tokyo's ambassador to Burma was working to
bring about talks between Suu Kyi and Rangoon's ruling
military junta, the State Law and Order Restoration Council
Ambassador Yoichi Yamaguchi had met twice with Suu Kyi
with SLORC's permission, Kyodo news agency reported.
Yamaguchi's initiative was designed to remove obstacles to
resumption of Japan's official aid for Burma, a move keenly
desired by Japanese businesses, it said.
Tokyo last year partially lifted a freeze on aid to Burma it
imposed in 1988, prompting Japanese trading houses to
flock to the resource - rich Southeast Asian country.
Suu Kyi has urged foreign countries and companies to wait
for real democratic change in Burma before providing aid or
Her party won a 1990 general election by a landslide but the
junta has refused to honor the result.
In Washington, a Burmese opposition leader urged the U.S.
Congress on to impose economic sanctions on Rangoon's
miliary government now engaged in a crackdown on pro-democracy forces.
The recommendation was opposed by the State Department
and the head of a U.S. company engaged in a project in the
"I can assure you that the passage of this legislation will
further advance the cause of democracy in Burma," Sein
Win said of a bill intended to cur U.S. investment as a lever
to force the military rulers to step aside.
Win, who is prime minister of the exile National Coalition
Government of the Union of Burma and is a cousin of
Burma's main internal opposition leader, Aung San Suu
Kyi, was speaking at a hearing of the Senate Banking
The bill would ban private investment in Burma and require
U.S. firms to disinvest until the present assures Congress
that an elected government has been allowed to take power.
BURMA MUST BE PERSUADED NOT TO STIFLE
A new crisis confronts the pro - democracy movement in
Activists in Aung San Suu Kyi's National League for
Democracy, the largest opposition element, have been
arrested one after another by the military junta, the State
Law and Order Restoration Council (SLORC)
The National League for Democracy is planning a rally
beginning Sunday in front of Suu Kyi's house to mark the
sixth anniversary of the 1990 election, in which the
organization won by a landslide. Those arrested had
expressed their intention to join the demonstration. It is
clear that SLORC intends to block the rally.
About 90 have been arrested, and there are fears fro the
freedom of the league's leaders, including Suu Kyi. The
situation is disconcerting.
It has been a little more than 10 months since Suu Kyi was
freed from a six - year - long house arrest. We had hoped
and urged that a dialogue be reestablished between the
military junta and the pro - democracy elements.
Each nation has its own history and certain states of
development, so the question of democracy cannot be
addressed uniformly. But the guarantee of free speech and
assembly is a universal element of democracy. SLORC has
warned that the planned demonstration by the National
League for Democracy would be contrary to law and order,
and said it would take resolute action to stop it. In Burma,
gatherings of five or more people are prohibited.
But arresting people just because they intend to join a
peaceful assembly must be regarded as being counter to
development of democracy. Such forcible action cannot be
It may be said that SLORC seems confident of being able to
forcibly suppress the pro - democracy movement. But the
junta may also be acting out of haunting fear.
The military junta came to power in 1988 through bloody
suppression of the democracy movement, conducting a
general election in 1990 while holding Suu Kyi under house
arrest. With the stunning victory for the National League
for Democracy, however, the junta retained control by
asserting that a change of government would be conditional
upon enactment of a new Constitution. The junta has
continued to cling to power while controlling the process of
writing a new Constitution.
Rangoon and some other parts of Burma are a bustle of
economic activity. The government's statistics indicate an
annual growth in Burma's gross domestic product of 5% to
10% since 1993. Increased foreign investment has also
been a boon to the economy, in turn building the confidence
of the military junta.
But how much has this economic growth enriched the lives
of the people? And how much poplar support has the junta
Diplomatic sources very familiar with the internal situation
say that, while some Burmese benefit from the economic
growth and are satisfied with the status quo, many more
have become increasingly disgruntled by the hardships
imposed by the accompanying inflation. And the same
sources express concern about an ever - spreading anti -
military sentiment, even among peaceful people.
The power base for a government that does not even have
the support of its people is fragile indeed, however vibrant
the economy may be. Perhaps because it is aware of that,
SLORC is in constant fear of a resurgence of the pro-
democracy movement and has resorted to strong - arm
The cause for concern is that Suu Kyi and other leaders of
the democracy movement are seen to have changed their
approach, adopting a desperate effort to mobilize the masses
to press for a breakthrough. This pent - up discontent could
erupt and very suddenly get out of control. The tragedy of
1988 proves that.
And because of that, we urge the democracy advocates to be
cool - headed.
There is still much the international community can do to
promote democratization of Burma. Japan, especially,
maintains several channels of communication, both to the
military junta and the pro - democracy movement. It should
persist in urging both elements to communicate.
(Asahi Shimbun, May 23)
Letters to the Editor