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Japan has pledged 10 billion yen (US$96 million) to develop infrastructure in the conflict-torn ethnic regions of Burma.
At a press conference on Monday in Rangoon, Japanese Ambassador Mikio Numata said Tokyo plans for the development aid package to be used over the next five years to improve living standards in Burma’s war-torn ethnic areas.
Nippon Foundation Chairman Yohei Sasakawa, who co-hosted the press conference, said, “I saw the [ethnic] refugees and they told me they do not have proper food or medicine or shelter. First of all, we will provide rice and beans and staple medicines.”
According to a report on Tuesday by Dow Jones, the assistance will initially focus on providing food and shelter to displaced persons, and later toward building roads, schools, hospitals and other infrastructure needed to create jobs in the northern and eastern ethnic states.
The nearly $100 million is part of a $500 million development package pledged by Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe last year when Tokyo also agreed to forgive some $3.7 billion in debt owed by Burma.
According to some reports, the aid package is seen by observers as an attempt by Japan to counter China’s influence in Burma and the Southeast Asian region at large, as well as to maximise Japanese investment opportunities in the country.