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Japanese Group Criticizes U.S. High-Handedness on Human Rights

June 8, 1993

TOKYO (AP) _ Washington must stop pressing its ″excessive human rights diplomacy″ in Asia, a group of prominent Japanese leaders said Tuesday in a report that reflects Asian resentment of what many see as U.S. high-handedness.

The Clinton administration has placed a high priority on human rights in its diplomatic dealings, particularly with China. President Clinton recently said future renewal of China’s favorable trade status would depend on improvement in human rights.

The Japan International Forum’s report to Prime Minister Kiichi Miyazawa isn’t official policy. But it reflects a backlash in Asia against what is seen as heavy-handed U.S. attitudes on trade and human rights issues.

The forum includes prominent intellectuals and former high trade officials with strong ties to the government and business community.

″We think Americans are too hasty,″ said Kenichi Ito, president of the group. He said opposition to American diplomatic tactics ″is growing not only among Japanese but among many East Asians.″

Ito said Japan wants human rights reforms in Asia but economic development should come first to avoid the chaos experienced in the former socialist countries in Eastern Europe.

Japan has expressed support for human rights principles, but has refrained from firm measures against Asian human rights violators such as Burma and China. Tokyo feels uncomfortable taking up the human rights banner in a region in which it has huge economic interests.

A Foreign Ministry official declined to comment directly on the report, but repeated previous government statements of concern about pushing for human rights.

The group urged Japan to support economic reforms in socialist countries, particularly China, Vietnam and North Korea.

In China, ″the conditions for democratic change and respect for human rights will come along with development of a market economy,″ the report said.

The report was signed by 67 people. The co-chairmen were Hisao Kanamori, chairman of the Japan Center for Economic Research, and Seizaburo Sato, a professor at Keio University.

Others included Kazuo Aichi, a legislator; Teruyuki Akema, president of Tohoku Electric Power; Naohiro Amaya, executive director of Dentsu Institute for Human Studies; Makoto Kuroda, managing director of Mitsubishi Corp.; Hideo Sakamaki, president of Nomura Securties; Hiroshi Watanabe, chairman of Tokyo Gas Co.; Hideaki Yasukawa, president of Seiko Epson Corp.; and Koichi Maeda, president of Jiji Press.

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