Japan waives debts to help Myanmar grow
NAYPYITAW Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe yesterday pledged 91 billion yen (US$890 million) in fresh aid to Myanmar, while waiving some 190 billion yen in debts, in a bid to support the Southeast Asian countrys growth.
During the first visit to the country by a Japanese premier in 36 years, Abe and Myanmar President Thein Sein agreed to lay a new foundation for mutual friendship by boosting cooperation in economic, political and security areas, as well as interpersonal and cultural exchanges, according to their joint statement.
During their summit talks, Abe called for jump-starting bilateral ties, which had been somewhat frozen and taking the relationship to a higher level, Japans Deputy Chief Cabinet Secretary Hiroshige Seko said.
Following the summit, the two leaders exchanged notes on Tokyos waiver of the remaining debt and provision of some 51 billion yen in fresh loans to help Myanmars infrastructure development as well as up to 40 billion yen in grant and technical assistance in fiscal 2013.
Of the 51 billion yen, 20 billion yen will be spent to build necessary infrastructure for the Tilawa special economic zone near Yangon, which will be developed by a Japan- Myanmar joint venture by 2015.
With Japan cancelling the 190 billion yen in debts, Myanmars outstanding loans amounting to a total of about 500 billion yen will be cleared. The two countries agreed on the treatment of the Southeast Asian countrys debt in April last year, with Tokyo becoming the first creditor to take debt relief measures.
Japan and Myanmar decided at that time the remaining debt would be cleared after one year.
Abe said Japans public and private sectors would together support Myanmars efforts to promote the nations economic re- forms and national reconciliation between the Myanmar government and ethnic minorities to resolve conflicts.
Abe and Thein Sein also shared the intention to work toward the early signing of a bilateral accord on investment and technical cooperation.
As for bilateral political and security cooperation, the two leaders decided to enhance dialogue on security and regional is- sues as well as promote cooperation and exchange between their defence authorities.
Abe told Thein Sein that Japan believes it is important to deepen cooperation with Myanmar, which is sandwiched between China and India and will chair meetings of the 10-member Association of Southeast Asian Nations in 2014, to secure stability in the region, according to Seko.