Softbank, Saudi Arabia, and Mega Fund: Persecution of Women and Banning Buddhism

Softbank, Saudi Arabia, and Mega Fund: Persecution of Women and Banning Buddhism

Noriko Watanabe and Lee Jay Walker

Modern Tokyo Times

The enormous internal debt of Softbank never ceases to amaze individuals, therefore, the latest details of a mega $100 billion fund with the Saudi Arabian funded Public Investment Fund (PIF) is business like usual. It is hard to believe that certain government links in Japan don’t exist, even if this isn’t openly stated. Therefore, the irony is that so-called modern and progressive SoftBank is going to assist the most anti-female and anti-non-Muslim nation in the world – so much for ethical policies and respecting gender equality.

It is equally ironic that SoftBank and PIF are focused on information technology because Saudi women can’t even drive cars – just like they can’t control how they dress. The contrast with Harajuku in Tokyo where people mingle and enjoy fashion, to Saudi Arabia where the sexes can’t mingle openly even when going shopping unless accompanied, couldn’t be further apart. Yet, for SoftBank – and the government of Japan – it is all about economic issues and little to do with equality, ethics, morality, and so forth.

In recent months it is known that Saudi Arabia seeks to diversify its economy because of the low price of oil, a costly war against Yemen where 60 percent of all casualties are civilians being killed by the Saudi Sunni Muslim-led coalition, high cost of spreading Sunni Takfiri versions of Islam all over the world, and other factors in relation to geopolitics, squandering of wealth, and so forth. Given this reality, talks have been going on between Japan and Saudi Arabia in relation to investing in Saudi Aramco.

Reuters was told by Saudi’s Falih, “We have a great relationship with energy companies in Japan and also financial institutions… I am sure the IPO of Saudi Aramco will receive great participation from the financial industry in Japan.”

It does appear that the latest proposed fund between SoftBank and PIF hints at inter-government approaches between Japan and Saudi Arabia. Therefore, SoftBank – just like conservative business leaders in Japan – doesn’t have any qualms with investing in a Saudi Arabian government funded company despite Buddhism and Shintoism being illegal in this nation. Equally disturbing, SoftBank is going to assist the government of Saudi Arabia despite the fact that women face prison and being whipped if not covered up from head to toe.

The New York Times reports, “SoftBank will invest at least $25 billion into what’s provisionally called the SoftBank Vision Fund over the next five years, while Saudi Arabia is weighing putting in at least $45 billion. They may draw in other partners who could eventually push the fund’s size to its maximum.”

Masayoshi Son, Chairman of SoftBank, says, “We aim to accelerate information revolution by contributing to the development of technology companies in which we plan to invest.”

In reality, Masayoshi Son and SoftBank – just like many other companies – aren’t concerned that women can’t travel freely in Saudi Arabia, that women are denied access to working openly in many information technology companies and other sectors, and that females face prison and being whipped if not covered up from head to toe. Indeed, Saudi women are even forbidden to marry non-Muslim males in Saudi Arabia based on Sharia Islamic law. Therefore, SoftBank isn’t concerned about notions of ethics and equality but instead will assist the government of Saudi Arabia despite this nation being heavily laden with censorship.

I wonder how the government of Japan would respond if SoftBank was involved in a mega fund sponsored by North Korea? In saying that, North Korean females can marry non-North Korean males; they have more freedom to travel inside the country and greater freedom when it comes to dressing.

Overall, it is alarming that SoftBank is going to assist the most draconian nation in the world despite the same company being based on modernity and the new technological age. After all, nothing modern about banning women to drive and to mingle freely in society – never mind banning Buddhism.

Modern Tokyo News is part of the Modern Tokyo Times group

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