Japan Inc. a dubious liberator


Jeff Kingston’s Feb. 10 Timeout article “Gold Rush: Japan Inc. flocks to Myanmar” reads more like an advertisement written on behalf of the Foreign Ministry rather than a piece of critical-minded journalism from a renowned university professor.

Kingston equates the flood of foreign intervention into the previously isolated state of Myanmar as part of a “democratization” process and writes that Japan Inc. has “an enviable reputation for integrity as an investor and employer.” Other than some Japanese forgiveness of Myanmar debt, he does not provide evidence to support this assertion.

In Kingston’s excellent academic critiques of the Fukushima nuclear plant disaster, he takes Tokyo Electric Power Co. to task for its grave errors in bringing about one of the world’s worst nuclear accidents. So I am surprised to read glib pronouncements such as that “Japan Inc. is roaring back” as if that is even a good thing.

While people have long been concerned about human rights in Myanmar, replacing one oppressive regime with a potentially even more destructive system is not a progressive agenda.

In my opinion, countries like Myanmar that would prefer to stay isolated from the control and abuses of global corporations and banks should continue to do so, and protect their natural resources and people from these so-called liberators. The Japan Inc. that infamously deforested Southeast Asia’s rainforests in past decades is probably now drooling over gold and uranium mines in Myanmar, not to mention all that cheap labor.

Japan should be promoting good jobs and manufacturing at home, not the off-shoring of factories and jobs for the sake of the ultrarich Japanese corporate and banking class.

richard wilcox

The opinions expressed in this letter to the editor are the writer’s own and do not necessarily reflect the policies of The Japan Times.

  • Equalizer

    The Americans, the British, the French, the Germans, the Chinese, they’ve all done the same thing, from Southwest-Asia to Africa to South America. Every time, the Japanese got beat to first spot. For once that they have a chance to be first somewhere, of course they’re going to jump on it. The domestic market is terrible and shrinking. Japan has no choice but to expand oversees, especially the car industry.

  • johnny cassidy

    Jeff Kingston offers a lengthy rebuttal to Wilcox’ claims in the comment section below his article, “Gold rush: Japan Inc. flocks to Myanmar” (linked to in the letter above). Hopefully he’ll be good enough to weigh in here as well.

  • johnny cassidy

    A rebuttal letter (“Danger to Myanmar’s Reforms,” published Feb. 17, 2013) penned by Kingston refutes the claims made in this letter. Hope JT can link to that letter from here. I think it used to sometimes provide that sort of link at the bottom of the letter on the old website.