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Japan Pledges Billions in Aid to Southeast Asian Countries

Japan has pledged more than $19 billion in aid and loans to Southeast Asian nations over the next five years to boost relations in the area.

Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe announced the move Saturday at a summit meeting with the 10-member Association of Southeast Asian Nations in Tokyo. The summit was a celebration of 40 years of ties between Japan and ASEAN.

The assistance will focus on helping close the region's development gap and improve its security preparedness.

On Friday, Tokyo agreed to expand currency swaps and other arrangements with Indonesia and the Philippines to help stabilize Asian financial markets.

Japan has been seeking to bolster its ties in the region as China has become increasingly assertive in territorial disputes.

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