In a statement issued on November 15, RENGO General Secretary Hiroyuki Nagumo welcomed the release on November 13 of Aung San Suu Kyi, the democratic movement leader in Burma who had been placed under house arrest by the Burmese military government for seven and half years. General Secretary Nagumo said that although the release came much too late, the Burmese people's expectations for democratization were now rising and free political activities by Aung San Suu Kyi must be guaranteed from now on. Meanwhile, General Secretary Nagumo also strongly criticized the general election held in Burma on November 7 as unfair and undemocratic. He said that the general election should be rejected as unacceptable.
The statement by General Secretary Nagumo followed reports that the military government in Burma had released Aung San Suu Kyi in order to parry criticism from the international community and demonstrate that it was following its own democratization plans; however, prospects for the military government's democratization process remain obscure. As for the general election, the statement said that the election administration commission had reported that about 80% of the results of vote counting had been made clear and that the political party succeeding the party of the military junta had gained about 70% of seats in the upper and lower houses of the federal parliament. However, the statement said, the general election had been far from "a free, fair and democratic election in which all the people concerned take part," as demanded by the international community. The statement concluded that the election had been nothing but a sham poll planned to strengthen control by the military government.
General Secretary Nagumo also pointed out that the general election had been held under a constitution and election laws enacted with the purpose of continuing and strengthening the military government; in addition, international election monitoring groups had been denied entry to the country, and foreign mass media had been prohibited from moving around freely. Moreover, illegal acts, such as false uses of paper ballots and coercion to vote for the party linked to the military government, had been rampant. It was reported that elections in the regions, which are hostile to the military government, had been cancelled and that about 1.5 million people, including ethnic minority groups, had been excluded from voting.
Finally, General Secretary Nagumo appealed to the international community, including Japan, to call in unison for the earliest release of about 2,100 political prisoners and the establishment of a United Nations investigation commission to investigate violations of human rights in Burma. He also demanded that the military government in Burma starts dialogues with ethnic minority groups and democratization forces, including Aung San Suu Kyi.