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Mitsubishi and Burma, Rainforest Ac

Subject: Mitsubishi and Burma, Rainforest Action Network's Update

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Incidentally, can anyone supply information about Japan's (and more
specifically Mitsubishi's) import and consumption of Burmese timber?   

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Rainforest Action Network's
Boycott Mitsubishi Campaign UPDATE
June 1996

E-mail boycottmc@xxxxxxxxxxx

Dear Campaigners

 . . . . 

As you may have noticed, there is a large quantity of  Mitsubishi
in Burma' information in this issue.  We are just beginning to
discover the depth of investment Mitsubishi is making in Burma. 
It saddens me that Mitsubishi disseminates information claiming to
be sensitive to human rights and the environment yet they continue
to invest in destruction.  We have joined forces with the Burma
Coalition to spread the word that Mitsubishi needs to be listed
right up there with PepsiCo and Unocal on campus resolutions.

 . . . . 

Mitsubishi Provides Piping for Burma Pipeline

NKK Corp., Japan's second - largest steelmaker, received an order
through Mitsubishi Corp. to supply 145,000 tons of 36 - inch
diameter pipes for a natural gas pipeline linking Burma to

A consortium of companies, including France's Total SA, Unocal,
Burma's MOGE, and Thailand's , P.T.T. is overseeing the Burma -
Thailand natural gas pipeline installation. (AP-Dow Tones News 25-04-96) 

Mitsubishi in Burma

The following is a list of the Mitsubishi companies that are doing
business in Burma: 

  Mitsubishi Corporation: Trading and Wholesaling via Mitsubishi
Construction and Mitsubishi Motors 
Mitsubishi Construction: 8/89 office in Rangoon 
1987 Biluchaung Power Plant
1994 Bid for Bridge Building
6/95 Hledan Overpass

  Mitsubishi Motors: 6/95 Sales/Service Center in both Rangoon and

Burma Too Vast to Ignore, Say Japanese Firms

Japanese companies have joined American, British and French firms,
shrugging off criticism from human rights groups that they are
doing business with a singularly vicious and oppressive military
regime, continue to increase their business in Burma, one of the
last untapped markets in Southeast Asia. 

The roll - call of companies preparing to begin or expand business
in Burma includes some prominent names: Nissan Motor Co,
Mitsubishi Motors Corp and Mitsui Engineering and Shipbuilding Co. 

In February, Minoru Makihara, the president of industrial giant
Mitsubishi Corp, met Burma s military leaders to discuss
investment prospects in the country. 

Makihara's visit was important for the junta and they rolled out
the red carpet. A photograph of Senior Gen Than Shwe and Makihara
was printed in the state - owned newspapers and the visit was
given  front - page treatment. 

Official newspapers said no formal agreements were signed during
Makihara's stay although a memorandum of understanding and
cooperation for investment was concluded. 

According to the deals, Rangoon will work with Mitsubishi on
edible - oil crop cultivation and milling. Mitsubishi is also
believed to be the first foreign company to begin directly
marketing sales of its automobiles in Burma. 

The Bank of Tokyo has made an agreement aimed at assisting
Japanese banks investing in Burma. The bank, which merged with
Mitsubishi Bank to become Tokyo Mitsubishi Bank, has created a
project to develop human resources in the country, under which up
to 60 students, including medical students, will receive
scholarship stipends. Mitsubishi Heavy Industries Ltd., Nippon
Steel Corp, and three other Japanese firms have tendered bids for
a project to construct bridges over three rivers. Both Mitsubishi
and Marubeni have discussed with the junta the possibility of
exporting agricultural and mining machinery to Burma and
developing the oil and natural gas sectors. (17.5.96/ The Nation) 

Even as Japanese firms move in, however, some other foreign
companies are backing away from Burma amid criticism of human
rights abuses by the military regime in Rangoon. 

In May, the US soft - drink giant PepsiCo announced plans to sell
its stake in a Burmese joint venture to quell an outcry among its
shareholders and rights activists. Pepsi will, however, still be
sold in Burma. 

Several state and local governments across the United States have
passed laws barring contracts with companies doing business in

For their part, Japanese companies say that Burma is simply too
vast a business opportunity to ignore. 

In 1993, Japanese investment in Burma totalled US$101 million
(Bt2.5 billion), placing it fourth behind Thailand, Singapore and
the US. 

As of March this year Japanese firms had invested $119.8 million
in seven enterprises, and, while a sharp increase, it was still
far behind Britain, France, Thailand and Singapore. 

Ironically, what Japanese businessmen have found over the last
seven years is that while Washington was publicly condemning the
junta, more and more U.S. companies were entering the country to
do business in Burma. The Japanese don t want to miss out.
(17.5.96/ The Nation) 

Although the Japanese government's failure to set forth clearly
defined policies on Burma is frustrating businesses, major
Japanese corporations have steadily increased their stake in the
country, with its low - wage labor force and a market of nearly 44
million people, experts say. 

Mitsubishi Motors plans to set up a dealership jointly with the
trading firm Kinsho Mataichi and a Burmese distributor. 

Last year, the Japanese government gave 2.5 billion yen ($23.8
million) in grants to Burma under its official development aid
program, the first since 1988 when the military junta seized

(14.5.96/ Bangkok Post/ Indochina Amy Shiratori Asahi News Service

The Japan - Tropical Timber Connection

Japan is the world's number one importer of tropical timber. Over
the years, its imports have accounted for some 30% of the world
trade in tropical timber, equaling imports of the entire EC.
Japan, which has tended to import intensively from one or two
countries at a time, played a major role in the virtual logging -
out of the Philippines in the 60's, and contributed to degradation
of Indonesian forests on a massive scale through the 70's and
early 80's, until an Indonesian ban on log exports forced Japan to
switch to timber from Malaysia (Sabah and Sarawak). 

Since a similar ban in Sabah in 1993, Japan has imported most of
its tropical logs from Sarawak, Papua New Guinea, and the Solomon
Islands. It has also begun to import massive amounts of tropical
plywood, particularly from Indonesia. Blockades of logging roads
by Penan and other tribal peoples in Sarawak focused international
attention on the plight of forest - dwelling peoples, whose
survival and cultural integrity have been threatened by
shortsighted "development." Approximately 80% of the imported
tropical logs are converted to plywood, used primarily in the
construction and furniture industries. Plywood panels used as
forms for molding concrete, which are discarded after a few uses,
account for some 20% of the plywood consumption. (Sarawak Campaign
Committee, Mori no Koe, No. 8/ March '96) 

Japan's Tropical Timber Imports for 1988 - 1995

Sarawak Campaign Committee (SCC) has recently released an updated
report which includes 1994 and 1995 tropical timber import data,
as well as cubic meter totals for tropical logs, sawnwood, plywood
and roundwood equivalent (RWE) for all years from 1988-1995. 
SCC draws a number of conclusions. One emergent trend is that
Japan's imports are increasingly characterized by a shift from
imported whole logs to imported plywood. 

Additionally, "Africa has also become a major supplier of logs to
Japan, but it is unclear when this trend emerged" due to the fact
that African import figures were first available for 1995. In
general, Japanese tropical timber imports continue to trend
downward from the 1980s, though it is unclear to what extent this
is a result of reduced supplies, reduced construction and/or use
of temperate rather than tropical forest timbers. 

Despite reductions, Japan's 1995 tropical timber import total of
11,695,000 cubic meters is still gluttonous, damaging to the
ecological, biological and social fabric of tropical lands, and
clearly unsustainable for long periods. Paper and wood recycling
and reuse, development of wood fiber alternatives and diverse
plantation planting will be necessary to relieve pressure upon
forest ecosystems in order to allow fragmented forest landscapes
to recover and move to a more uniform and natural mosaic of early,
mid and late successional stands. The difficult task of
conserving, managing and restoring vegetational communities will 
continue for generations in an effort to mitigate damage done for
throw away paper products, poorly constructed buildings and other
short - sighted and non - sustainable uses. Industrial democracies
need to get a hold on their forest products over - consumption.
Forest ecosystems are too valuable for such casual consumption. 

Japan's tropical timber imports in 1994 and 1995 were
characterized by a continued increase in the proportion of plywood
imports in relation to log imports. Plywood imports from Malaysia
in particular increased dramatically, while tropical log imports
from most regions decreased. Japan's imports of tropical hardwood
logs from all regions except Africa totaled 6.8 million m3 in 1994
(8.6% decrease from 1993) and 5.9 million m3 in 1995 (12.9%
decrease from 1994). Total tropical hardwood log imports including
African timber were 6.5 million m3 in 1995 (African timber import
statistics for previous years are not available.) Imports of
tropical plywood from Indonesia and Malaysia decreased slightly to
3,736,000 m3 in 1994, but reached an all - time high of 3,988,000
m3 in 1995. Tropical sawnwood imports decreased 4.5% to 1,297,000
m3 in 1994, and are thought to have remained about the same in
1995 (Total for Jan. - Nov. U95: Malaysia 597,493 m3, Indonesia
479,730, all regions 1,252,075 m3). It is difficult to gauge how
the shift to plywood imports has affected Japan's overall
consumption of tropical timber (in terms of raw material), due to
the lack of data on the efficiency of wood use in the wood
processing industries of Indonesia and Malaysia, but it is not
thought to have decreased much. The simple total of all tropical
timber imports decreased 5.8% to 11.8 million m3 in 1994, and a
further 1.1 % to 11.7 million m3 in 1995, but total imports in
roundwood equivalents (calculated using conversion coefficients
used by the FAO) increased slightly in 1995. 

Japan s Tropical Timber Imports In 1994 & 1995 Compiled by Sarawak
Campaign Committee, Japan (from Mori no Koe Issue # 8)