American civil rights leader Jesse Jackson criticized the practices of Japanese companies investing in the United States and said they threaten 25 years of gains made by US minority groups. Visiting Japan at the invitation of local human rights groups, Jackson spoke at the Foreign Correspondents Club of Japan yesterday, where he called for the formation of a new, mutually beneficial economic relationship between Japan and the United States.
He also called for improved treatment of minorities in Japan and for an end to Japanese economic ties with South Africa.
Noting that Japan's overseas investment is increasing now that it is the world's largest creditor nation, Jackson said Japanese companies entering the US market often avoid union workers and urban areas and deal primarily with the white establishment.
``As they come in union-busting, with no commitment to affirmative action, no sensitivity to [maintaining] minority dealerships and distributorships, then we will have lost a quarter of a century of struggle. That will not take place without some very strong resistance,'' he said.
He said US blacks own 2 million Japanese-made cars, ``but of all the dealerships Japanese firms have in the US, less than five are owned by blacks.''
He said there ``is nothing peculiar about Japanese cars that means black automobile dealers cannot sell them. But there is a peculiar formula that has locked us out. It must give way, or we will have to organize a major resistance movement.''
``Most troubling for us is the fact that Japan has not begun to face the new realities of being a world power, sensitive to the frictions and agendas of the other nations and peoples of the world,'' he said.
If Japanese companies continue to ignore US minorities, they will face the possibility of a national boycott of their products, Jackson said.
During his five-day visit, Jackson and his delegation are meeting with political and civic leaders and with officials at Toyota, Mazda, Sony, and Panasonic.