Written by U Ne Oo on 1998-08-25

Letter to Hon. Masahiko Koumura, the Japanese F.M.

Dr U Ne Oo

18 Shannon Place

Adelaide SA 5000


25th August 1998

Hon. Masahiko Koumura

Minister ahiko Koumura

Minister for Foreign Affairs

2-2-1 Kasumigaseki

Chiyoda-ku, Tokyo-100-0013


Dear Minister,

I firstly call your attention to the Japan's private company, Mitsubishi Corporation, conducting illegitimate deals with Myanmar Oil and Gas Enterprise (MOGE) of Burma. It is reported that the Mitsubishi Corporation has recently signed an agreement to extend $130 million loan to MOGE, one of Burma's state owned enterprises, without seeking the approval of democratically elected parliament of Burma. Ad parliament of Burma. As minister is no doubt aware, MOGE under current Burma's military junta, State Peace and Development Council, has no legitimate authority to accept loans or to conclude business deal with a foreign firm, such as Mitsubishi Corporation. For Burma's state owned enterprises, such as MOGE, accepting loan or making business deal with foreign firms must firstly have the approval of democratically elected parliament. I therefore urge the Government of Japan to intervene the situation and persuade Mitsubishi Corporationubishi Corporation to follow a legitimate procedure in making business deal with MOGE, i.e. Mitsubishi Corporation to seek approval of democratically elected parliament for making business contracts. First and foremost, the Mitsubishi Corporation must discuss its business proposals with the Central Executive Committee of National League for Democracy. In this connection, I enclosed my 1997 letters to U.S. State Department and, also, the Unocal Corporation that currently has a business deals with Burma.

Secondly, I am conceecondly, I am concerned about the Japan's immigration authorities threatening to deport Burmese asylum seekers. I ask the Government of Japan to give a dignified treatment to our asylum seekers and to follow international standards in assessing their application for refugee status in Japan.

Thirdly, I urge the Government of Japan to cancel its debt relief grants to Burma so as to pressure the military junta to make negotiation with the opposition leaders. Whilst Burma need to urgently settle its debt repayments to Japan and mas to Japan and many other donor countries, I urge the Government of Japan to directly contact the Central Executive Committee of National League for Democracy to discuss Burma's debt repayments. I also urge Government of Japan to use multilateral route, such as International Monetary Fund, to settle Burma debt repayment problems.

Finally, I support the Government of Japan's efforts to encourage a dialogue in Burma. I have been personally advocating the Burmese junta and NLD to form a transitional government, with the existint, with the existing cabinet serving as EXECUTIVE BRANCH and National Parliament serving as a LEGISLATURE. I believe such arrangement will ensure the political stability in Burma and provide a smooth path towards democratic transition. Continuing pressure and persuasion made by Government of Japan to Burmese military junta towards this end are greatly appreciated by the Burmese people.

In closing, I thank you and Government of Japan for your continuing efforts for peace and reconciliation in Burma.

Yours respectfully and sincerely

Sd.(U NE OO)


It becomes increasingly evident that certain elements in Japan are directly moving aganist our works for democratization in Burma. Japan, in previous years, said to have adopted a policy of 'constructive engagement' similar to that of ASEAN. I began some political lobbying to Japanese political establishment in early this year, primarily the Japanese Government to enforce economic blockade against the Burmese junta. While I am not a While I am not a long-term observer to the Japanese policy towards Burma, I become increasingly concerned that certain elements within Japan's political and economic establishments are working against our efforts for democratization in Burma.

There are also some indication of possible policy conflict with our current effort of restoring a democratically elected government of May-1990 and the Burma policy-thinkings by Japanese political establishments. Some Japanese elites appears to have favoured a fresh new election to be heelection to be held in Burma. Japan's efforts to persuade the military junta to release Aung San Suu Kyi in 1995 as well as to get few other concessions were probably based on the assumption that a fresh new election in Burma would be held in an appropriate time. One Japanese business consultant wrote, in a satirical way, "Americans love elections and democracy is America's religion". The Generals in Rangoon, too, seems to love elections: A fresh election will give them legitimacy to stay in power without being criticized for not hicized for not handing over power to the elected representatives.

Followings I summarised of these facts:

1. On December 1997, Kenichi Ohmae, a Japanese consultant wrote articles in Asiaweek and few other journals in favour of existing military regime. Earlier to that, an organized tour to Burma was arranged for Japanese business executives.

2. Japan's MOFA, under Prime Minister Ryutaro Hashimoto, is not quite helpful to enforce the economic blockade against junta. For example, soon after our request to cancal r our request to cancal Japan's debt-relief grants to Burma, it sought to extend such grant. Debt-relief grant, to my understanding, was to primarily cancel Burma's loan/interest repayments to Japan. Our request, simply, was Japanese Government to take its very own money from the Burmese junta.

3. The Japanese Government extension of its loan in March 1998, though small in amount($20 Mln), to repair Burma Airport Runway was also very confusing as regards the government's policy standing towards both pro-democracy groups and militaryroups and military junta. It came amidst the pro-democracy groups were intensifying efforts to further isolate the junta from its usual financial supports. The amount of US$ 20 million is small, for sure, but in politics the timing is often everything.

4. Around April/May, there were some initiatives from Japan for the United Nations sponsored drug-eradication program in Burma. To my way of thinking, such issue is international in nature and, therefore, Japan's efforts should be coordinated with United States and all other Eates and all other European countries, in order to be more effective in drug eradication purpose as well as to persuade junta to become more cooperative. This didn't seems to have happened. Japan appeared go out on its own to make initiative for a regional drug seminar with nothing of the result seems to have eventuated. It is to be concluded as a simple immaturity of some Japanese political corps for such internationally coordinated efforts.

5. More obvious case of the existence of pro-junta group in Japanese political establese political establishment was seen last June. The AFP has reported of 20 MPs from ruling LDP, headed by Kabun Muto MP, formed a pro-Burma-military support group.

6. Recent self-styled-repatriation of two refugees doesn't also helped the Japan's standing as regards its support to Burma's democracy movement. It is nothing new to the Burma activist community about this two individual's political stance and we were not surprised that they went back to Burma. However, the Japanese immigration threatening to forcibly repatriate somely repatriate some Burmese asylum seekers in recent weeks --causing humiliation to the Burmese refugees-- may have triggered these two individuals to take such drastic action. Whilst no country on this earth welcomes refugees with a red carpet, atleast some dignified treatment is required from the Japanese government to our Burmese refugee applicants.

7. Last weekend (22/8/98) decision by Mitsubishi Corp. to extend significant amount of loan is a direct challenge to the authority of democratically elected parliament. The Mis parliament. The Mistubishi Corp. is extending its loan, in an illegitimate and provocative way, to Myanmar Oil and Gas Corporation. Any attempt to accept such loan by MOGE, a state owned enterprise, must have the approval of Burma's Parliament. On the other hand, the Mitsubishi Corp. must be made aware of the fact that it is dealings with an illegal military junta. Any contract Mitsubishi Corp. signed with military junta is illegitimate and any loan given without expressed consent of Burma Parliament amounts to the company aiding andmpany aiding and abetting the illegal junta.

8. The political signals receiving from current Japanese government is somewhat encouraging. Nonetheless, we must also taken into account of the possibility of the existence of certain pro-junta elements within Japanese political/business establishment. To my estimation, none of Japanese business interests in Burma will be threatened regardless of Burma having either of military or democratic government. This is simply because of Burma's traditional links with Japan as well as B Japan as well as Burmese people's admiration of Japan's economic success after World War-II. Nevertheless, it is from the part of Japanese politicians not to take it in for granted about such good relation between the two people.

As for our part from the pro-democracy campaigners, we are not only to counter those moves by Japanese pro-junta groups, we must also educate the Japanese public and those groups in particular that it is not in Japan's best interest to support the military junta.

With best regards, U ith best regards, U Ne Oo.

SOURCE-- http://www.nikkei.co.jp/enews/TNKS/page/asiaset.html

Mitsubishi Inks 130 Mln Dlr Loan Deal for Myanmar Gas Project

TOKYO(Nikkei)--MItsubishi Corp. signed a deal Friday to extend $130 million in syndicated loans to Myanma Oil and Gas Enterprise jointly with NIchimen Corp.(8004), Malaysia Export Credit Insurance Bhd and Export-Import Bank of Thailand, among others.

The Myanmar public oil and gas corporation will use the loan, to be repaid over seven years id over seven years from the year 2000, to develop a na;tural gas field off the Myanmar coast.

The natural gas field is under development jointly with Premier Oil Plc of the U.K., Nippon Oil Co.(5001) and a Thai public oil corporation, among others, at a total cost of $800 million.

The porject is designed to channel 1.4 million tons of gas a year to thermal power plants in Thailand via pipelines. It is scheduled to go into commercial production in 2000.

Mistubishi has previously arranged syndicated loans totaling $150 million for Myanmar energy projects, and aims to use the financing deal as a springboard for future business expansion in the country.

The company and other Japanese trading houses are supporting energy projects in Myanmar on perceptions of the high economic growth potential, industry analysts said.

(The Nihon Keizai Shimbun Saturday morning edition)

Conflicting Signals from Japan