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FOCUS March 2008 Volume 51

HURIGHTS OSAKA Activities

HURIGHTS OSAKA participated in the 2008 One World Festival held on 2-3 February 2008 at the International House Osaka. The One World Festival is a "Festival of international cooperation connected with the world to feel, to touch, and to help each other"[1] with the participation of major non-governmental organizations (NGOs), government institutions related to Japanese official development assistance (ODA) programs, United Nations agencies, educational institutions, and private companies in the Kansai region. It is held annually in Osaka city.

One World Festival includes various "programs related to international understanding or cooperation ... presented through exhibitions, symposiums, an ODA town meeting, field reports, discussions on international understanding and development education, an environmental experience corner and much more."[2]

HURIGHTS OSAKA organized a panel discussion on Burma. The panel discussion, entitled "Democratization in Burma and its Relation with Us" was held on 3 February 2008 in cooperation with Burmese Relief Center-Japan (BRCJ).

The panelists included Mr. Yuzo Uda, a photojournalist who has been working in Burma for many years, M r. Tetu Hakoda, Co-Director of BurmaInfo.org, Toshihiro Kudo, Director, South Asian Studies Group II, Area Studies Center of the Institute of Developing Economies.

Mr. Uda reported on the background and the incidents of use of force by the Burmese authorities in cracking down on peaceful demonstrators in the summer of 2007. He based his presentation on his field research and on videos showed by the Al Jazeera television news network.

Mr. Hakoda gave a presentation entitled "Background of the 2007 Democratization Uprising and the Task for Us." He criticized the indecisiveness of the Japanese government in responding to the situation in Burma at that time. He said that the government did not send a strong message to the Burmese junta after it used force on the peaceful protesters. He also said that the Japanese government has an obscure aid policy, and has not provided aid to Burma refugees living in Japan.

Mr. Kudo's presentation entitled "2007 Myanmar Turmoil - Economic Background and Perspective for the Future," explained the economic background of the peaceful protest demonstrations, the economic base of the Burmese Junta, and the U.S. economic sanctions against Burma and their effect.

The participants, on the other hand, raised several questions relating to the possibilities of a tripartite political dialogue (between the pro-democracy movement, ethnic minority groups, and the Burmese Junta), the expected Japanese aid to Burma, and how can Japan be active involved in the country.

In collaboration with the Asia Volunteer Center (AVC), HURIGHTS OSAKA also organized a concert featuring Ms. Yuko Arakaki from Okinawa who played sanshin, a traditional Okinawan string instrument, and sang several Okinawan songs. Okinawa is a prefecture composed of the southernmost islands in Japan where most U.S. military facilities are concentrated.

For further information about the panel discussion and other activities, please contact HURIGHTS OSAKA.

Endnotes

1. See One World Festival, in International House Osaka website,
http://www.ih-osaka.or.jp/i.house/english/010/one-world-festival-2007.html
2. Ibid.


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