– VOA News
A Toyota Motor Corp. affiliate has sold its stake in a joint venture with Burma’s ruling military government after protests by social activist investor groups.
The Japanese automaker’s trading partner, Toyota Tsusho Corp., sold its 20-percent stake in the joint venture with the government and Myanmar Suzuki Motor in June, although the sale was not announced at the time.
Four U.S.-based investor groups had for three years sought to get Toyota to end its involvement with the Burmese regime because of the country’s poor human rights record. The four are Trillium Asset Management Corp., Domini Social Investments, Boston Common Asset Management and the Interfaith Center on Corporate Responsibility.
Toyota told the investors in August that the sale had been completed, and the investors made the sale public on Tuesday.
Toyota Tsusho helped manufacture motorcycles, light trucks and cars. But the investors said the sales were limited to the Burmese wealthy and to those who had connections with the military government.
One researcher estimated that the Toyota venture in Burma produced 12,000 vehicles in 2006.
Burma’s military government is accused of widespread human rights violations. Numerous Western nations have imposed economic sanctions on the country to push its rulers toward democratic reforms.
Next month, Burma is holding its first national elections since 1990, but critics say they are a charade aimed at putting a civilian face on continuing military rule.