What makes you come and work in Myanmar?
This is the question, which has been raised since the period before I came to Myanmar. And it has been asked up to now. I think the same question would be asked to every Japanese who live in Yangon. It is not an easy task for me to explain this to every person who makes this query. Therefore, I intend to answer this question in easiest way before more and more questions are posed.
I came to Myanmar because I decided that if I ran a company, the place would be this country during my visit to Myanmar as a university student. Recently, I would like my staff to know this and so that I could say to those who ask this question that it is written in detail on the homepage. This is why I decided to write this.
First of all, I would like to give an account of my university days. I went to Canada as a student majoring in language study for one year because my brother was there. Although I was a language student, I took hich hike to Alaska and had conversation with people in English. I only took pleasure in socialising with other foreign students with only focus on English language proficiency without studying text books much. The place where I went to study was Edmonton in Alberta , Canada, where the temperature became -30°degree in winter.
There were few Japanese students studying in Canada at that time. I chose this university for low tuition fees. It was easy for foreigners to enter Alberta then. Foreigners’ immigration to Canada was specially expected and encouraged. Thus, I had many class mates from several countries such as China, Korea, Laos, Somalia, Poland, Kenya, Russia, Peru, etc. Although there were students who came to Canada with the purpose of studying, majority came here to start a new or second life because situations in their countries were not favourable. I came to know that Japanese people are endowed with a lot of blessings which are hard for others to get after living together with these persons as friends for nearly one year. I have to perform my duty as I was born as a Japanese. For this reason, I personally made up my mind that I, for my part, must make a living regardless of place.
To pick up the threads of what I have been mentioning earlier, other questions asked always are “Is your wife a Myanmar girl” “ Do you come here in on a religious mission?” The reason I came to Myanmar has nothing to do with these questions. My wife is a Japanese girl who I got to know when I was away on study. Having experienced pleasure in travel from the trip to Canada, I made up my mind to travel before starting working. The place I intended to visit was India. Because I thought I as an Asian needed to tour around Asia first. I heard that India was the most interesting country for a backpacker. I thought of visiting India from September to December after finishing my term paper for the degree without taking a rest.
It was coincidence that plague was rampant in India then. I left for Bangkok and made enquiries there. I was advised to wait for about one month till situations returned to normal. While I was thinking about what I should do, I heard that Vietnam was also interesting to visit. But, at that time, I had no impression on Vietnam as a beautiful country like present day, but the image of war. Finally, I became interested in visiting Vietnam and decided to go there. Getting a visa to Vietnam in Bangkok was too expensive. A friend of mine adviced that it would be cheap to get a visa to Vietnam in Cambodia. Then, I made a plan to visit Cambodia, Vietnam and Laos in the same stretch. I set out for Cambodia with the thought that out break of plague might have been over come after my tour in these countries. There was no stable security situation at that time in Cambodia. Entry into the country by land from Thailand was prohibitted. So, I flied to Phnompenh from Bangkok. There were indeed a lot of military equipment there. Actually I arrived there at the right time. On my arrival in Hanoi after my trip to Cambodia and Vietnam out of my sheer interest without advance knowledge, it was already in December. During my tour, I made friends with Japanese people working in these countries. Most of them recommended that I should also visit Myanmar, an interesting country.At that time, I did not even know where Myanmar was. Having experienced the pleasure of visiting little-known places, I went to Myanmar after going back to Japan from Hanoi.
I arrived in Yangon one month after I went back to Japan. I met a Myanmar who lived in America while I was getting a visa to Myanmar in Bangkok. We took the same flight to Yangon and he took good care of me through out my stay in Yangon. I stayed in Yangon for about two months with visa extension.
My opinion regarding Myanmar at that time was that it was high time to do something. I thought that Vietnam would develop in no time because everybody there was eager to work. Cambodia had a lot of countries that gave assistance to it. But ......... why not in Myanmar. What were the main factors? With these thoughts in mind, I recalled my trip. I went back to Japan with a decision that I must do something in Myanmar.
After graduate an university, I enjoyed essence of life working for a one of a biggest consulting firm Funai Consulting Firm in Japan as a business consultant.
I heard the news that Aung San Suu Kyi was released in July 1995. I was in a hurry to go back to Myanmar. In the mean time, I came across an oversea vacancy announcement for a post in Myanmar appeared in the column which people hardly looked at. Recalling it now, I think it was like a really strange coincidence. Finally, I arrived in Yangon again. Coming to Yangon seemed to me that it was my life trend, like the advice that one needs to flow reversely in the current of social life. There was words often said by senior citizens that all the things happening are because they are needed and they should be. I understand fully that they are indeed as the say.