Tokyo, 22 Safar 1434/ 4 January 2013 (KUNA/MINA) – Japanese Deputy Prime Minister and Finance Minister Taro Aso told Myanmar President Thein Sein on Thursday that Tokyo will provide a fresh JPY 50 billion (USD 574 million) in low-interest loans by March after writing off Myanmar’s overdue debt totaling some JPY 500 billion (5.7 billion) by the end of January, Japan’s Kyodo News Agency reported from Naypyitaw.

     During their talks in the Southeast Asian nation’s capital, Aso also gave assurances that Japan will give its full support to Myanmar’s efforts to put it back on the road to genuine democracy, Kyodo quoted Japanese officials as saying.

    “Japan wants to maintain sound relations with Myanmar even if there was a change of its government,” Aso said at a news conference in Naypyitaw. “Myanmar has been heavily in debt and unable to attract investment. Japan will remove those obstacles and support the country.”

     It is the first time that Japan has specified the timing of resuming its yen loans to Myanmar. Tokyo had said it will write off Myanmar’s overdue JPY 500 billion (5.7 billion) debt in January and provide a fresh JPY 50 billion (USD 574 million) under concessionary terms to Myanmar early this year.

      The lending, if implemented, will be Japan’s first to Myanmar in 26 years. It is expected to include JPY 20 billion (USD 230 million) for improving the infrastructure of an industrial park and JPY 19 billion (USD 218 million) for upgrading an existing thermal power plant, according to the report.

     Aso became the first Cabinet member to travel abroad since the inauguration of the government of new Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe last week. During the meeting, Thein Sein welcomed Aso’s role in the new Japanese Cabinet and expressed hope for Japan’s continued support for Myanmar.

     He also thanked Japan for deciding to resume financial assistance, saying Tokyo’s aid policy toward Myanmar affected those of European nations and the US. (T/R-019/R-006)

Mi’raj News Agency (MINA)

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