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July 16th meeting with Yoshikawa Sh

Subject: July 16th meeting with Yoshikawa Shigeki of Mistubishi, on  Burma et. al

  Eight Burmese democracy activists (from Burma Youth Volunteer Association,
Burmese Relief Center-Japan, 8888 Group and DBSO, NLD -- Liberated Area
-Japan  and the Kyoto-based Japan Environmental Exchange leafletted
Mitsubishi employees on their way to work early in the morning on the 16th.
Surprisingly, the flier, in clear  Japanese, seemed to be of considerable
interest -- and the 1000 sheets were all handed out, no one refusing.
 What follows is the report just in from Frank Chase of Japan Environmental
Exchange about the contents of the meeting with Yoshikawa Shigeki, Asst.
Gen. Mgr of the Southeast  Asia, Myanmar and Oceania Development and
Coordination Department of Mitsubishi Corporation.    
The activists represented BRC--J, JEE and BYVA.

- - - - - - - - - -

  From: Frank Chase <chase@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx> 
Interview with Shigeki Yoshikawa, Mitsubishi Corp.

	  On October 16, four activists representing the Burma democracy  movement
met with Shegeki Yoshikawa, Asst. Gen. Mgr of the Southeast  Asia, Myanmar
and Oceania Development and Coordination Department.   After introductions,
Mr. Yoshikawa presented Mitsuishi's involvement and  approach to economic
developement in  Burma.

l. Mitsubishi is not negotiating with the military junta (SLORC) and has
"no investments in Burma."    The pipeline contract was made with Total and
finalized in Paris. 

2. Mitsubishi sees itself as a "pioneer" in that it is collecting data  from
a broad range of concerns in  order to ensure the feasibility of long range
investments.  A  concern, mentioned several times,     regarded the currency
issue (foreign reserves?).  "We have been  referred to as NATO, ' no action,
talk only.' "   

3. Mitsubishi has historically been involved with the economic  development
of Burma dating back  before World War II.  Dealings with Burma recently
under the SLORC  however date back only     three years.  Mitusbishi is
proceeding very carefully and is a minor  presence at the present time.

Activists:  Does Mitsubishi perceive any linkage between 'economic
development' and 'political       oppression' by SLORC? 

Yoshikawa: Mitsubishi is only interested in economic development which  is
good for the people of  Myanmar, or "Burma" as you say.  We are being very
careful to  examine every aspect of          involvement.  We are making
efforts but it is difficult to get  information from Burma.
Political oppression is a matter for the Japanese government to  deal with.
We will follow          whatever our government policy dictates.  We are
only interested  in economic  development          and believe that the
careful decisions we make can only help  the people  of Myanmar. 

Activists:  You need to realize there is an obvious linkage between
economic development and        the money that comes from that development
and subsequently  used by SLORC to further          their illegal hold over
the people.  
Let's consider a worse  case scenario: SLORC jails Aung San Suu Kyi.  What
would Mitsubishi be  prepared to do about such an action that would ignore
the wishes of the Burmese people who  gave her an 82% electoral  victory
over the military ?  Do you have any such contingency  plan? 

Yoshikawa: No, but I don't think that would happen. 

Activists:  I would think that Mitsubishi would have considered this if,  as
you say, you are          concerned about all aspects of a business
environment that  includes the authorities who set          conditions for
trade and investment.  Mitsubishi can not  separate itself from the actions
of the          government: doing business in Burma is doing business with
SLORC.  Corporations in          Burma are widely perceived as placing
profits before human  rights.   

Yoshikawa: We are NOT interested only in profits. Mitsubishi has a long
record of concern for the environment and for strengthening community.  In
the 1930's we  wrote into our charter the        environmental and
harmonious community-building principles that  we support.  We have an
ethics committee involving the top executives that review such  questions. 

Activists: That's very commendable and we applaud that, but it raises a
serious question.  Given the human rights violations of SLORC, you can't say
it's merely a  political question and should be left to the government.
SLORC's use of forced slave labor,  it's record of an estimated 13,000
political protesters killed, and hundreds of thousands of  refugees in other
countries must          contradict the principles of the Mitsubishi
Corporation.   Surely you can put pressure on the military junta for
violations of principles your  corporation believes in. 

Yoshikawa:  We cannot interfere.  It's not our position to do so.   That's
the government's role and we will abide by whatever the government decides.
Let me ask  you,...have you talked to the Japanese government?

Activists:  Yes, and it was very revealing.  The government official  spoke
of having two pipes: two conduits of communication: one to SLORC and the
other to Aung San  Ssu Kyi.  To us that is mere opportunism.   

Yoshikawa:  Opportunism?  Don't you think it's a good idea to keep all
lines open for discussion? 

Activists:  Discussion of what?  Contracts? If your purpose is long- range
profit, then it would seem  so.  If your purpose is to build community and
adhere to  environmental standards, both of     which SLORC is grossly
abusing, then no.  Actually, we can not  help but believe that the "two
pipes" mean that the government is waiting to see who will  control the
nation,..whether or not        it's a military dictatorship suppressing the
rights of the people  or a democratic government with       82% of the
popular vote doesn't seem to matter.  We in Burma say  that the Japanese are
slow in making a decision but once it's made the whole nation  is on our
doorstep.  I firmly believe that        Aung San Suu Kyi will rightfully
come to power, and when she does  we'll remember who were        our friends. 

Yoshikawa:  Regardless of what we think we can not interfere in  politics.   

Activists:  It's not interference,...it's adherence to company  principles.   

Yoshikawa:  We think it would be interference.  The wisest course is to
proceed carefully with patience.  We have responsibility to our shareholders
and working  in tandem with our government, we feel the best results will be
made.  We DO feel a  sense of responsibility for community.  I'm very glad
that we had this opportunity to speak.   I feel we know each other better
now.  Please realize that we keep ourselves informed: I  read all the
information that comes from the Burma Democracy Movement. 

Activists:  Before our remarks become circular, we'd just like to point  out
what we feel is the bottom line concern for all of us.  We don't perceive
the people  at Mitsubishi as evil people, you've scaled the
entrance-examination system successfully, are  basically good family people
and have a high sense of loyalty as you say to your stockholders  and
community.  The "evil" is that loyalty to GNP growth-oriented economics, no
matter how  prudent, is destroying the environments and the peoples living
sustainedly in them.  Nature  has a carrying capacity,...we and our
technology aren't in charge because if we violate  nature's limits we
destroy the ecological base supporting our lives.  Still, mere survival
isn't  the bottom line as we see it, the bottom line is the health of the
villages and the people who can  show us the way to sustainable agronomy.
As villages disappear and urban sprawl takes its  place, the need to keep
law and order will give us many SLORCs and the this planet will become a
pretty mean place to live on. Mitsubishi would be a  true pioneer if it went
to SLORC and  expressed its concerns now before SLORC is overthrown and you
approach Aung San Suu Kyi with  hearty assurances that you are so happy to
see civilization return to Burma.  It might  just sound hollow, especially
when you tell her that you can now do business with someone who  adheres to
your high standards of community and environmental health. 

Yoshikawa:  (a kindly smile)

We were now beginning to truly repeat ourselves, but we left feeling  we
understood each other better.  Our image of the transnational  corporate
world was reinforced and for Mr. Yoshikawa, it's hard to know,  but the
obvious inconsistancies between principles/reality may have  generated some
reflection.  We're hardly holding our breath, though.  Their priorities
remain the same.