Saturday, November 7, 2009

Japan pledges over 500 billion yen in aid to Mekong states over 3 years

MCOT English News (from Thai News Agency): Prime Minister Yukio Hatoyama said Friday that Japan will provide over 500 billion yen in official development assistance to five Mekong countries in Southeast Asia over the next three years. Hatoyama made the commitment at the first summit meeting involving the leaders of Japan and the five Mekong-region countries -- Cambodia, Laos, Myanmar, Thailand and Vietnam -- that began in Tokyo the same day, a Japanese official said.

The two-day meeting through Saturday commenced against the backdrop of Japan's continuing aid efforts in the Mekong River region amid China's growing presence there. During the day's meeting, Hatoyama pledged to boost Japan's support for the Mekong countries to help the region's stability and development.

''The new government of Japan intends to proactively contribute more than ever to stability and development in the Mekong region through our strengthened assistance,'' Hatoyama said in his opening remarks. ''Japan will steadily play its role as a bridge for common prosperity in the future.'' Stability and development, he said, would help to narrow disparities within the Association of Southeast Asian Nations, to which the Mekong countries belong, and promote the regional bloc's integration.

''In that sense,'' the Japanese prime minister said, the Mekong countries form ''an important region that holds the key to realizing my vision of an East Asian community.'' The leaders of the Mekong countries thanked Japan for its commitment to the region's development, saying that greater cooperation between the countries would contribute to the successful establishment of an ASEAN Economic Community, which is planned to be set up by 2015….

Sunset on the Mekong River in Laos, shot by Gorgo, Wikimedia Commons

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