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Japanese journalist killed in Burma (or should that be Myanmar…. hmmm) September 28, 2007

Posted by fukumimi in Politics.
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[Update 9/28. see link in Durf’s comment to see what stray fire looks like in Myanmar. The Japanese government will “lodge a protest”. Pathetic, as usual]

So, the Japanese news is running reports that a Japanese cameraman was killed in Rangoon (or should that be Yangon). The official reports from Burmese (Myanmarese?) authorities say that they found some bodies including that of the Japanese cameraman with gunshot wounds. “Stray fire”, allegedly.

I’m thinking it is not likely that the average Buddhist monk protestor is packing a piece.

On the other hand, it isn’t unheard of for authorities to “accidentally” shoot media personnel. By firing a HEAT round from a 120mm smoothbore at a hotel, or using a Galil or Mauser or similar, for example. (Or A-10 Thunderbolt II’s firing AGM-65 Maverick guided air to ground missiles at TV stations) I suspect the Burmese military junta’s thugs police and riot squad are even more liberal with their use of firearms if they think no-one is watching…

Anyway, it is interesting to note the fact that the Japanese press refer to the country as Myanmar, whilst the British and US press prefer to stick with Burma, in apparent protest at the fact that it was the military junta who insituted the name change. Japan was of course one of the first nations to recognise the military junta.

In contrast to the widespread public pressure in Europe and the US targetting companies with activities in Burma, there doesn’t seem to be a similar awareness in Japan. Part of this maybe due to the historically close ties between the two nations but is probably for the most part another indication of the closeness of ties between political and business interests in Japan, aided and abetted by the media, of course….. Japanese companies usually hide behind the excuse that politics is for the government and politicians to deal with and that they defer to government policy regarding foreign relations. Given the Japanese government is less than forceful in its foreign policy, that is a nice cop-out. A representative sample of Japanese companies with a Burmese presence is here(Mitsui, Marubeni, Suzuki, Fujitsu, Tasaki Shinju are named). It is far from a comprehensive list, other major trading companies (Mitubishi Corp, Sojitz) are also there or have found creative ways to make money from Burma related business (eg Mitsubishi Corp selling goods to French oil company Total for its exploration business in Burma but insisting it is working with Total HQ in France), and the big one missing is Nippon Oil Corporation. I do understand the argument against economic sanctions (it hurts the downtrodden innocent general population before it hurts the ruling class…etc), but when was the last time providing non-democratic governments with a financial lifeline made these people turn around and see the light? And no-one seems to have an issue with boycotting corporations. Is there such a fundamental difference?

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Comments»

1. Gen Kanai - September 28, 2007

Itochu, Mitsubishi and Mitsui are 3 of the Japanese trading companies with offices in Burma. The Japanese media was reporting that the trading companies are calling their Japanese staff back to Japan.

http://www.itochu.co.jp/main/thrpf/gnet_e7.html

http://www.mitsui.co.jp/en/contact/Asia/index.html

http://www.mitsubishicorp.com/en/network/ao/myanmar.html

I would hope that these companies would reassess the cost of doing business in Myanmar, but I remain skeptical.

2. Durf - September 28, 2007

By “stray fire” they apparently mean “point-blank fire from a soldier.”

http://www.japanprobe.com/?p=2800

3. Burma - Facebook groups -- Alan Pritt - September 29, 2007

[…] Olympics, should they not support sanctions. This is for UK citizens only, of course. Link. (Elsewhere discussion is surfacing of individual companies who do business in […]


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