April 21, 2012 / 2:47 AM / 8 years ago

Japan to give Y600 billion in aid to Mekong nations over 3 years

Japan's Prime Minister Yoshihiko Noda (R) exchanges smiles with the leaders of the Mekong region nations Thailand's Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra (2nd R), Myanmar's President Thein Sein (2nd L) and Vietnam's Prime Minister Nguyen Tan Dung during a demonstration of an electric car at the Japan-Mekong summit at the state guesthouse in Tokyo April 21, 2012. REUTERS/Kenichiro Seki/Pool

TOKYO (Reuters) - Japan will provide 600 billion yen ($7.35 billion) in official development aid to Mekong region countries in three years from April 2013 to help improve the region’s infrastructure and boost the area’s economy, Prime Minister Yoshihiko Noda said on Saturday.

Noda made the announcement following a meeting with leaders from Cambodia, Laos, Thailand, Vietnam and Myanmar - countries with strong growth prospects.

“There is no development in east Asia without the stability and growth in the Mekong region,” Noda told reporters. “Our country will firmly press ahead with its cooperation with the region, which is our focus area for support.”

Japan, which is saddled with a rapidly greying population, targets exports of social infrastructure, such as railway systems and power generation systems, as a growth driver, while countries in the Mekong region need to carry out large-scale infrastructure upgrades to attract foreign investment.

Reporting by Kiyoshi Takenaka; Editing by Ron Popeski

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