Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Japan extends billions to Mekong

Japan had pledged more than 600 billion yen (US$7 billion) over three years to the development of countries in the Mekong region, Foreign Affairs Minister Hor Namhong said yesterday. 

The deputy prime minister said the agreement had been inked at the Mekong-Japan Summit, held on April 20 and 21, but division of  funds among the five Mekong nations had yet to be determined.   

“After this, there will be a meeting of the Japan-Mekong foreign ministers to decide a concrete plan for the implementation [of the grant aid],” Nor Namhong said. 

Japan and the leaders of Mekong countries adopted the Tokyo Strategy 2012 at the summit. 

The pact was inten-ded to boost infrastructure development, IT capabilities, trade and food security, he said, adding that the development “must be sustainable”. 

Prime Minister Hun Sen had invited his Japanese counterpart to make an official visit to Cambodia next year, Hor Namhong said. 

Chheang Vanarith, executive director of the Cambodian Institute for Cooperation and Peace, said Japan and China had poured aid and investment into the region and were increasingly seen as competitors for influence, along with the US and India.  Economic influence would be key, he said.