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2013年5月28日 (火)

ミャンマー訪問 経済支援で日本の存在感を

The Yomiuri Shimbun May 28, 2013
Boost Japan's presence in Myanmar using leverage of economic aid
ミャンマー訪問 経済支援で日本の存在感を(5月27日付・読売社説)

Japan has come out with a massive assistance package for Myanmar, a Southeast Asian country pushing forward with democratization and economic reforms. This is part of Japan’s strategic arrangements for carving out a new market in Asia.

Prime Minister Shinzo Abe visited Myanmar and held talks Sunday with President Thein Sein in the capital, Naypyidaw.

Abe’s official visit is historic because it is the first to Myanmar by a Japanese prime minister in 36 years. The last prime minister to set foot there was Takeo Fukuda in 1977.

Abe praised the Myanmar president’s reform efforts, and said Japan is willing to “support Myanmar’s nation-building endeavors by extending all possible assistance from both the public and private sectors.”

Specifically, Abe pledged to forgive 300 billion yen of the debts Myanmar owes Japan, and offered 91 billion yen in official development assistance for such purposes as developing an industrial park that will become a hub for Japanese companies in the swiftly emerging country.

Abe as ‘top salesman’

Abe expressed the government’s readiness to work in tandem with the private sector to develop Myanmar’s infrastructure, such as a large electricity generation plant, an electricity supply grid and a high-speed communication network.

Following its transition to a democratic government in March 2011, Myanmar has been drawing attention from all over the world as an attractive investment destination. Competition has been intensifying between many nations, including the United States, seeking to make inroads into Myanmar’s market.

Abe has played the role of “top salesman” to help Japanese firms expand their business to Myanmar.

The Myanmar president was quoted as expressing gratitude for Japan’s generosity, and stressed the importance of investment in Myanmar by Japanese companies.

Blessed with an abundance of natural resources, including natural gas, and a high-quality labor force as well as high market growth potential, Myanmar has often been dubbed Asia’s “last frontier.”

Japan’s cooperation for improving Myanmar’s straggling infrastructure will likely give a major boost to the development of its economy.

Abe told reporters the government hopes “Japan’s infrastructure-related exports to Myanmar, like those to Russia and the Middle East, will lead to growth in Japan’s economy.” Myanmar will certainly figure prominently in the Abe administration’s growth strategy.

Abe also told the president that Japan intends to help Myanmar improve its legal system and enhance its human resources.

To ensure this wide-ranging economic assistance to Myanmar proves truly effective, improving that country’s legal system will be essential for creating an environment that attracts investment and for acquiring know-how about running businesses.

Abe’s commitment to a program under which about 1,000 young people from Myanmar are to be invited to Japan will be effective in this respect.

Both leaders reached an accord on bilateral cooperation for measures to eliminate poverty among Myanmar’s ethnic minorities. We hope the agreement paves the way for resolving human rights problems in Myanmar.

Bolstering security ties

In addition, the two leaders agreed to bolster bilateral security cooperation. The Maritime Self-Defense Force’s “training squadron” is expected to make a port call in Myanmar for the first time, a move that will activate security interchanges between the two countries. This is extremely significant.

Tucked between China and India, Myanmar sits in a geopolitically important area. In 2014, Myanmar will chair meetings of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations.

Strengthening ties with Myanmar, which has changed course from leaning toward China, is in line with Abe’s diplomatic stance that advocates democracy and freedom.

Pursuing this line should help hold in check a China that has become increasingly assertive both militarily and economically.

(From The Yomiuri Shimbun, May 27, 2013)
(2013年5月27日01時38分  読売新聞)


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