Japan's response to the political crisis in Burma after the establishment of the State Law and Order Restoration Council (SLORC) in September 1988 reflected the interests of powerful constituencies within the Japanese political system, especially business interests, to which were added other constituencies such as domestic supporters of Daw Aung San Suu Kyi's struggle for democracy and those who wished to pursue 'Sun Diplomacy,' using positive incentives to encourage democratization and economic reform. Policymakers in Tokyo, however, approached the Burma crisis seeking to take minimal risks—a "maximin strategy"—which limited their effectiveness in influencing the junta. This was evident in the February 1989 "normalization" of Tokyo's ties with SLORC. During 1989-1998, Japanese business leaders pushed hard to promote economic engagement, but "Sun Diplomacy" made little progress in the face of the junta's increasing repression of the democratic opposition.


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