French MP's hunger strike 'absurd': Japanese firm

18th April 2006, Comments 0 comments

TOKYO, April 17, 2006 (AFP) - A Japanese firm that dropped plans to build another factory in France after a lawmaker's hunger strike Monday assailed his protest as an "absurdity" that went against economic freedom.

TOKYO, April 17, 2006 (AFP) - A Japanese firm that dropped plans to build another factory in France after a lawmaker's hunger strike Monday assailed his protest as an "absurdity" that went against economic freedom.

Jean Lassalle took nothing but water, salt and vitamins for five weeks until Friday when the French government reached an accord with Osaka-based Toyo Aluminium K.K. to maintain a plant in his constituency.

"We believe that MP Jean Lassalle's hunger strike, which rested on his own assumptions based on a misunderstanding, was an absurdity that greatly harmed freedom of enterprise," Toyo said in a statement to AFP.

Lassalle, a former shepherd from the Pyrenées mountains, feared Toyo planned to close its car paint plant that employs 150 people in his town of Accous due to its plans to build a factory 65 kilometers away in Lacq.

The company, which denied it was pulling out of Accous, abandoned plans for the new factory under an accord struck after talks with French Interior Minister Nicolas Sarkozy and the Japanese ambassador in Paris.

Toyo thanked Paris for intervening.

"We are going to continue to invest in Accous," the Toyo statement said, "and have received the French government's commitment for broad financial support and the promises to help us set up needed infrastructure and give us prompt authorizations."

Lassalle, an MP for the center-right UDF party, lost 21 kilograms during his ordeal and was hospitalized.

Lassalle, meanwhile, told a newspaper in Bordeaux on Sunday that his action had been intended to appeal to people's consciences.

"I sent out a modest sign, which should at least have appealed to people's consciences, for good or ill, it doesn't matter which" Jean Lassalle told the Sud Ouest newspaper from his hospital bed.

Lassalle, a MP for the centre-right UDF party and a former shepherd from the Pyrenées mountains, started his protest on March 7.

"Capitalism is a good thing but without a counterweight it has become a veritable scourge," he told the Bordeaux-based paper.

Asked how to interpret the outcome of his fight, Lassalle said he liked to see it as "the prelude to an indispensable change in politics".

Lassalle remains in hospital, where he is being gradually weaned back onto food.

Copyright AFP

Subject: French news

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