JIN-468 -- Japan and Myanmar

J@pan Inc Newsletter
The 'JIN' J@pan Inc Newsletter
A weekly opinion piece on social, economic and political trends
in Japan.
Issue No. 468 Wednesday June 04, 2008, Tokyo

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Japan and Myanmar

When Burma looked to rid of the imperial British in the
early 1940s, they turned to Japan for help, seen as the lesser
of two evils. However, it quickly became clear that the Burmese
independence declared on August 1, 1943, was merely a veil for
Japanese colonization. The country remained occupied by the
Japanese military for two years, during which time hundreds of
thousands of Burmese citizens were forced into doing hard labor
for their colonial masters – building railways and making
military supplies.

After the war, Japan signed a peace treaty with Myanmar in 1954
and relations were largely characterized by friendliness, with
Japan taking an active role in economic development. 'This
generally took the form of large amounts of overseas development
assistance (ODA), getting up to the level of $154.8 million a
year during the period 1978-88. However, when the current junta
seized power in 1988, as with Myanmar's other relationships
around the world, its relations with Japan deteriorated: Japan
was unable to exert any significant influence on events there
and ODA decreased dramatically.

On the other hand, Japan has employed a notably different policy
towards the rogue regime than the US. It has been actively
involved attempts to engage the country through the Association
of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) and according to the Ministry
of Foreign Affairs in 2005, Its policy was to 'promote
democratization and human rights not by isolating Myanmar but by
working patiently and persistently for improvements through
ongoing dialogue with the present regime.'

Relations hit another low-point in October 2007, when Japanese
journalist, Kenji Nagai was shot while covering the riots in
Yangon. This caused uproar internationally, saw a swing in
public opinion against giving aid to the military regime and a
grant of $4.7 million for a business education at Yangon
University campus was cancelled. However, there remain staunch
Japanese supporters of the regime, such as former ambassador
Yoichi Yamaguchi who has said, 'Isn't it a task the
international community should undertake as the very first step
to stop tarnishing the image of Myanmar by making Aung San Suu
Kyi a leading actress and the government a villain?' He calls
for a more realist approach to Myanmar based on realist

Things have also warmed up more recently in the wake of the
cyclone that hit Myanmar last month. Japan has persistently
tried to get information and has managed to send out a medical
team to assist. According to the Embassy of Japan in Myanmar,
'The Japan Medical Team consists of 23 members, including one
Foreign Ministry official, four medical doctors, seven nurses,
one pharmacist, five co-medical staff, and five logistics
staff.' And, despite the dips in popular support, there are
some active civil organizations that promote bilateral support
such as the Japan Myanmar Friendship Society

Thus, Japan has retained its commitment to engaging Myanmar even
if it has reduced it somewhat. It will be interesting to see how
many more incidents the relationship can survive, and whether
Japan will keep closer in line with other countries in the
region, or follow the US and Europeans in taking a stronger

Peter Harris

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Success in a Super-Aged Society

Silver Market Workshop on June 13, 2008

If you have been wondering how demographic change is going
to affect your business in Japan, find out more in this
seminar by the German Chamber of Commerce and the German
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When signing up, state "Japan Inc." to receive a discount.

Space is limited, so register quickly.

For more details:


250 Bilingual JET candidates looking for work

The JET Programme Alumni Association of Eastern Japan
(http://www.jetaa.com) has its annual job fair
(http://www.tokyojobfair.com/) at the Tokyo International
Forum on June 14th from 13:00-18:00.

Target more than 250 registered bilingual foreigners completing
their contracts and former JETs, many of whom have had a wide
range of experience. Sponsors will have exposure to the whole
JET and JET alumni community.

Current and former JET Programme (http://www.jetprogramme.org/)
participants are invited as candidates.
Tel. 03-4550-1524 / Mobile. 090-9674-7312 or E-mail:

-------------------- ICA Event - June 25 ------------------

Speaker: Henry Ng, Head of Professional Security Services
-Asia, Verizon Business

Topic: Bridging the Security Management Gap:
How to Move from Point Solutions to Process

Details: Complete event details at http://www.icajapan.jp/
(RSVP Required)
Date: Thursday, June 25, 2008
Time: 6:30 Doors open includes light buffet
Cost: 4,000 yen (members), 6,000 yen (non-members)
Open to all-venue is The Foreign Correspondents' Club of Japan

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-Entrepreneur Association of Tokyo
- 5-Year Anniversary - Monday, June 16th --

Title: 'Secrets of Entrepreneurial Success'

Speaker: Mr. Allen Miner - Founder and Chairman
and Group CEO of SunBridge Corporation Group

After being EA-Tokyo's first speaker in June 2003, Mr. Miner
will return to share his secrets of entrepreneurial success.

After joining Oracle in 1986, Mr. Miner was dispatched to
Japan where he founded Oracle Japan. After successfully
growing Oracle's business and taking the company public he
left in 1999 to establish SunBridge Corporation, a company
that provides a variety of growth-enabling services to
start-ups and global enterprises.

Please sign up early while seats are available.

Date/Time: Monday, June 16th, 7:00 pm
Location: Foreign Correspondents' Club of Japan
Language: English
Website: http://www.ea-tokyo.com