At the end of last year, activists and people from villages in Myanmar where Japanese companies are poised to build coal-fired power plants came to Japan to speak about their concerns. They made it clear that they are against the implementation of these projects at a public seminar hosted by Japanese NGOs. Below is an English translation (with some minor editing) of the seminar report.
“Messages from Myanmar…our villages aren’t built on coal”
Date: Nov 27, 2015 18:00-20:30
Organizers: FoE Japan, Japan Center for a Sustainable Environment and Society (JACSES), Mekong Watch, Kiko Network
Supporters: 350.org, A SEED Japan, Aryus Buddhist International Network, Fair Finance Guide Japan.
- “Japan-supported coal-fire power projects in other countries and Japan’s involvement in plans in Myanmar”
- Demands of Myanmar’s civil society to Japan
- Messages from local people from areas where Japanese companies are planning coal-fired power plants
- Mon State
- Ayeyarwady Region
- Tanintharyi Region
We Can’t Build our Future on Coal-Fired Power Plants
-A Message from Myanmar/Burma’s Villages to the People of Japan-
Nov 27, 2015 (Fri) 18:00-20:30
Organized by: Mekong Watch, JACSES, FOE Japan, Kiko Network
Location: Global Environmental Outreach Centre (Tokyo)
(1st Floor of UN University, between Shibuya and Omotesando)
Local people from communities in Myanmar/Burma where coal-fired power plants are being planned are coming to Japan. They want people in Japan to know that they do not want coal-fired power plants. Why are they coming here? Because in spite of the international movement away from coal, the communities are worried that the Japan Bank for International Cooperation (JBIC) will support Japanese companies who want to construct such plants in several locations. Continue reading
For a 17-minute introduction to the difficulties being faced by people living around the Dawei SEZ Development Project, see the video below (with Japanese subtitles).
It includes interviews with villagers who lost jobs, land, or homes.
“We take good care of our land. It’s thanks to the land that we can live. We don’t want compensation. Compensation doesn’t last. We can’t pass it on to our children. If we can pass on the land, we have nothing to worry about for our descendants.”
MW staff had an opportunity to speak with a woman from a village affected by road construction being done as part of the Dawei Special Economic Zone Development Project (Dawei SEZ) in Southern Burma. When we asked her how villagers found out about the project, she explained how bulldozers suddenly showed up and started tearing up some of the villagers’ fields.
We will put up more information about expected social and environmental impacts of the SEZ soon. In the meantime, a photo of villagers engaged in rotational upland rice farming along the road link from Dawei to the Thai border.
On August 4th, local community groups from Dawei (southern Burma) sent a letter to the Japanese Foreign Ministry, the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA), and the Japan Bank for International Cooperation (JBIC) after Japan officially announced its involvement in the Dawei Special Economic Zone (SEZ) development project and related projects.
This is a joint letter submitted by 2 local groups and the Dawei Development Association (DDA), who sent a letter last April to warn Japanese government agencies of the already existing problems and risks related to the project. Now that the Japanese government has officially joined the Dawei SEZ development project–in spite of the existing problems–the three groups not only raise concerns about expected future problems, but emphasize that Japan is now also responsible for addressing already existing and outstanding environmental and social impacts related to the project. Continue reading
On July 4th, at the 7th Japan-Mekong Summit held in Tokyo, Japan, Burma, and Thailand signed a memorandum of Intent (MoI) for development of the Dawei Special Economic Zone. If completed, the Dawei SEZ will be SE Asia’s largest industrial zone (20,451 hectares), and the Japanese government has now pledged to participate. This is also raising hopes of business opportunities among Japan’s corporate sector.
Local groups, however, have been raising concerns about the Dawei SEZ, citing serious environmental, social, and human rights problems. In April this year, local organizations wrote a petition to the Japanese government and JICA calling for Japan to halt its involvement in the Dawei SEZ at this stage. Continue reading
June 2015 marked a year since 3 people affected by the Thilawa Special Economic Zone (SEZ) Development Project filed an official complaint and request for investigation into JICA’s compliance with its Environmental and Social Guidelines. The 3 requesters claimed negative impacts to their standard of living due to this Japan-Myanmar joint venture project located just outside of Yangon. This was the first time for JICA’s compliance with its safeguard policy to be put under scrutiny.
How have living standards changed at the resettlement site? Has the standards written in JICA’s Guidelines been maintained? The Guidelines state that living standards of affected people should be improved, or at least restored to pre-project levels. Following is an update of developments through mid-May 2015 and an explanation of remaining challenges. Continue reading