<!–Abe reaffirms Japan’s support for Mekong development | GlobalPost

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Prime Minister Shinzo Abe on Saturday pledged Japan’s continued support for development of five Southeast Asian countries along the Mekong River.

“Development in the Mekong region and narrowing the gaps between the 10 ASEAN member economies are the most important issues toward the creation of the ASEAN (economic) community in 2015,” Abe said in a meeting in Tokyo with leaders of Cambodia, Laos, Myanmar, Thailand and Vietnam, part of which was open to reporters.

“Japan will continue to make a contribution to the Mekong region’s development,” Abe said, referring to the five nations that form the Association of Southeast Asian Nations with Brunei, Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines and Singapore.

Abe and the five Mekong leaders reaffirmed their commitment to strengthening cooperation toward 2015, according to Deputy Chief Cabinet Secretary Katsunobu Kato.

Japan has pledged to extend a total of 600 billion yen in official development assistance to the five countries in a three-year period through fiscal 2015.

In response to Abe’s remarks, the Mekong leaders expressed gratitude for Japan’s support and hope for more Japanese corporate investment in the region.

Japanese business investment in the Mekong region has grown significantly in recent years, while China has increased its influence there by providing substantial financial aid.

Abe also said the number of travelers between Japan and the region has increased as a result of Japan’s eased visa requirements for citizens of all of the five Mekong nations.

The two sides also confirmed cooperation in cultural exchanges, insurance, climate change and disaster management.

At the end of the Japan-Mekong summit meeting, Abe said both the public and private sectors of his country will support Myanmar’s economic development and democratization process.

Abe’s stance was welcomed by the Mekong leaders.

==Kyodo

Copyright 2013 Kyodo News International.

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http://www.globalpost.com/dispatch/news/kyodo-news-international/131214/abe-reaffirms-japans-support-mekong-development




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