News / Asia

Japan's Abe Ends Burma Visit with Aid, Debt Write-off

Japan's Prime Minister Shinzo Abe (L) and Burma's President Thein Sein toast during lunch at the Myanmar International Convention Center in Naypyitaw, May 26, 2013.
Japan's Prime Minister Shinzo Abe (L) and Burma's President Thein Sein toast during lunch at the Myanmar International Convention Center in Naypyitaw, May 26, 2013.
Reuters
Japan on Sunday endorsed Burma's reform program by writing off nearly $2 billion in debt and extending new aid, some of which will help support an industrial zone being developed by Japanese firms near the commercial capital, Rangoon.
    
Japan agreed a year ago to forgive 176.1 billion yen ($1.74 billion) in arrears owed to it by Burma's government and, at the end of a three-day visit by Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, it said Burma had met the necessary conditions, including a series of political and economic reforms.
    
"Since both governments acknowledged the continuation of Burma's reform efforts, the government of Japan has decided to clear the said overdue charges," the Japanese Ministry of Foreign Affairs said in a statement.
    
Abe was the first Japanese leader to visit the Southeast Asian country in 36 years.
    
Unlike many countries Japan did not impose trade and financial sanctions on Burma during five decades of military rule, but it has dramatically scaled up its engagement since the poor but resource-rich country embarked on reforms two years ago under the quasi-civilian government of President Thein Sein.
    
The debt forgiveness was contingent upon Burma pushing ahead with reforms over the past year that included lifting media censorship, enacting a new foreign investment law and allowing more freedom for political activists and parties such as the National League for Democracy (NLD).
    
Abe met with NLD leader and Nobel Peace Prize winner Aung San Suu Kyi during his trip.
    
On Saturday he visited the port of Thilawa, the site of the future industrial zone, 25 km (15 miles) south of Rangoon.
    
As part of 51.05 billion yen in new aid announced on Sunday, Japan will provide up to 20 billion yen for the Thilawa project, repayable over 40 years at 0.01 percent interest. The money will help with electricity infrastructure in the area and an expansion of the port.
    
Other projects will help increase the power supply elsewhere in the country and develop infrastructure in rural areas.
    
There was no reference in the various statements to another industrial project in Dawei, by the border with Thailand, being developed by Italian-Thai Development Pcl.
    
Initial funding of $8.5 billion has proved elusive and the Thai government has sought Japanese help.
    
Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra was in Japan this week and she said in a weekly televised broadcast on Saturday that investors there had shown strong interest. Thai officials had hoped for signs of progress during Abe's visit to Burma. ($1 = 101.1850 Japanese yen)

You May Like

Myanmar Fighting Poses Dilemma for China

To gain some insight into conflict, VOA’s Steve Herman spoke with Min Zaw Oo, director of ceasefire negotiation and implementation at Myanmar Peace Center More

Australia Concerned Over Islamic State 'Brides'

Canberra believes there are between 30 and 40 Australian women who have taken part in terror attacks or are supporting the Islamic State terror network More

Recreational Marijuana Use Now Legal in Washington, DC

Law allows adults 21 and over to privately possess and smoke 0.05 kilogram of pot, and to grow small amounts of the plant More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
US Supreme Court Hears Hijab Discrimination Casei
X
Katherine Gypson
February 25, 2015 11:30 PM
The U.S. Supreme Court has heard opening arguments in a workplace religious discrimination case that examines whether a clothing store can refuse to hire a young woman for wearing the headscarf she says is a symbol of her Muslim faith. Katherine Gypson reports from the Supreme Court.
Video

Video US Supreme Court Hears Hijab Discrimination Case

The U.S. Supreme Court has heard opening arguments in a workplace religious discrimination case that examines whether a clothing store can refuse to hire a young woman for wearing the headscarf she says is a symbol of her Muslim faith. Katherine Gypson reports from the Supreme Court.
Video

Video Falling Gas Prices Hurt Nascent Illinois Hydraulic Fracturing Industry

Falling oil prices are helping consumers purchase cheaper petroleum at the pump. But that’s made hydraulic fracturing or “fracking” less economically viable for the companies in the United States invested in the process. VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports on one Midwestern town that was hoping to change its fortunes by cashing in on the next big U.S. oil boom.
Video

Video Fighting in Sudan's South Kordofan Fuels Mass Displacement

Heavy fighting in Sudan's South Kordofan state is causing hundreds of thousands to flee into uncertain conditions. Local aid organizations estimate as many as 400,000 civilians have been internally displaced since the conflict began more than three years ago, while another 250,000 have fled across the border to refugee camps in South Sudan. VOA's Adam Bailes reports.
Video

Video Lao Dam Project Runs Into Opposition

A Lao dam project on a section of the Mekong River is drawing opposition from local fishermen, international environmental groups and neighboring countries. VOA's Say Mony visited the region to investigate the concerns. Colin Lovett narrates.
Video

Video A Filmmaker Discovers Her Biracial Identity in "Little White Lie

Lacey Schwartz grew up in an upper middle-class Jewish family, in a town in upstate New York where almost everyone she knew was white. She assumed that she was, as well. Her recent documentary, Little White Lie, tells the story of how she uncovered the secret of her true racial background. VOA’s Carolyn Weaver has more on the film.
Video

Video Deep Under Antarctic Ice Sheet, Life!

With the end of summer in the Southern hemisphere, the Antarctic research season is over. Scientists from Northern Illinois University are back in their laboratory after a 3-month expedition on the Ross Ice Shelf, the world’s largest floating ice sheet. As VOA’s Rosanne Skirble reports, they hope to find clues to explain the dynamics of the rapidly melting ice and its impact on sea level rise.
Video

Video US-Cuba Normalization Talks Resume Friday

Negotiations aimed at normalizing diplomatic relations between the U.S. and Cuba resume Friday. On the table: lifting a half-century trade embargo and easing banking and travel restrictions. There's opposition in Congress, but some analysts say there may be sufficient political and economic incentives in both nations for a potential breakthrough this year. VOA's Mil Arcega reports.
Video

Video Pakistan's Deadline For SIM Registration Has Cellphone Users Scrambling

Pakistani cell phone users have until midnight Thursday to register their SIM cards, or their service will be cut off. While some privacy experts worry about government intrusion, many Pakistanis are just worried about keeping their phone lines open. VOA Deewa reporter Arshad Muhmand has more from Peshawar.
Video

Video Myanmar Warns Factory Workers to End Strikes

Outside Myanmar's main city Yangon, thousands of workers walked off their jobs earlier this month demanding a doubling of their wages, pay raises after a year and input from labor unions on industrial regulations. Since Friday, the standoff has grown more tense as police moved in to disrupt the sit-ins, resulting in clashes that injured people from both sides. VOA correspondent Steve Herman visited industrial zones which have become a focus of Myanmar's fledgling workers rights movement.
Video

Video Oscar Winners Do More Than Thank the Academy

The Academy Awards presentation is Hollywood’s night to reward the best movies from the previous year. It’s typically a lot of glitter, a lot of thank you’s, a lot of speeches. But many of this year’s speeches carried messages beyond the thank you's. VOA’s Carolyn Presutti takes a look.

All About America

Circumventing Censorship

An Internet Primer for Healthy Web Habits

As surveillance and censoring technologies advance, so, too, do new tools for your computer or mobile device that help protect your privacy and break through Internet censorship.
More