By Harumi Ozawa, AFP, April 21, 2012
Japan on Saturday pledged $7.4 billion in aid over three years to help five Mekong states, in an attempt at fostering development in a resource-rich region also being courted by China.
“The stability and prosperity of East Asia will not be possible without the stability and prosperity of the Mekong region,” Prime Minister Yoshihiko Noda told a press conference following a summit in Tokyo.
“The Japanese government will recognise the Mekong region as a significant destination of assistance and continue its cooperation strongly.”
Noda met leaders of the five Mekong region countries — Cambodia, Laos, Myanmar, Thailand and Vietnam — as Japan’s export-dependent economy seeks cheap labour and investment to power growth.
In addition to 600 billion yen ($7.4 billion) in development assistance over three years to 2015, Tokyo presented a list of 57 infrastructure projects planned in the region, estimated to cost around 2.3 trillion yen.
Japan to forgive $3.7 billion of Myanmar’s debt
By MALCOLM FOSTER | Associated Press | April 21, 2012
TOKYO (AP) — Japan said Saturday it will take steps to forgive about 300 billion yen ($3.7 billion) of Myanmar’s debt and resume full-fledged development aid as a way to support the country’s democratic and economic reforms.
The government made the announcement after a meeting between Prime Minister Yoshihiko Noda and Myanmar President Thein Sein following a summit with leaders from the five nations of the Mekong River region.
Myanmar’s military junta last year handed power to a nominally civilian government that has surprised the world with a series of sweeping political and economic reforms, including releasing prominent political prisoners and allowing democracy icon Aung San Suu Kyi to contest recent parliamentary by-elections.
“Reforms in Myanmar are steadily moving forward. As Myanmar approaches a crucial stage in its democratization, Japan will all the more encourage Myanmar’s efforts to reform,” Noda said at a news conference with Thein Sein. “We hereby pledge to strengthen our assistance to the country so that the Burmese people will be able to enjoy the fruit of its reforms.”