Japan to boost infrastructure investment in Asia

May 22, 2015 08:19
Shinzo Abe's new initiative can be seen as a challenge to the China-led Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank. Photo: AFP

Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe has unveiled a plan to expand Japan’s financing for infrastructure projects in Asia by 30 percent.

The move suggests Tokyo intends to counter a new regional investment bank spearheaded by China, The Wall Street Journal reported.

Abe pledged Thursday to offer roughly US$110 billion in the next five years to fund “high-quality infrastructure investments” in Asia through various channels, including expanding the lending capacity of the Asian Development Bank (ADB) and providing yen loans from the Japanese government.

In an apparent effort to differentiate its efforts from China’s aggressive fundraising through the new Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB), Abe played up the quality of projects that Japan can offer, with its long expertise in energy-saving technology and reliable public transportation systems.

“We need to spread innovation to every corner of Asia. There is no room for cheap and subpar,” Abe said at a Tokyo conference hosted by Nikkei Inc. and attended by several Asian leaders.

“Japan is determined to play a major role in providing funds so the preference for innovative projects takes root in Asia.”

The United States and Japan have avoided getting involved in the AIIB, expressing concerns about the new bank’s governance and that it will undermine existing international lenders in which they play leading roles.

Japan is the largest shareholder in the Manila-based ADB, the president of which has traditionally been Japanese.

Abe endorsed a plan recently unveiled by the ADB to expand its lending capacity by 50 percent by combining internal financial resources. He also supported a possible increase in the bank’s capital.

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