April 21, 2012 / 9:50 AM / 8 years ago

Japan to forgive Myanmar debts, restart loans

Japan's Prime Minister Yoshihiko Noda (L) and Myanmar's President Thein Sein attend their joint news conference with the leaders of the Mekong region nations at the Japan-Mekong summit in Tokyo April 21, 2012. REUTERS/Tomoyuki Kaya/Pool

TOKYO (Reuters) - Japan has agreed to forgive Myanmar 303.5 billion yen ($3.72 billion) in debt and overdue charges, and resume development loans to the Southeast Asian country, the two nations said on Saturday, in a move to help foster the nascent democracy’s economic development.

They have decided to cooperate in drawing up a blueprint for the Thilawa Special Economic Zone in Myanmar, potentially giving Japanese firms a leg-up over rivals in winning infrastructure projects for the area.

The announcements were made jointly by Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihiko Noda and President Thein Sein, Myanmar’s first head of state to visit Japan in nearly three decades. just a year ago, prompting the West to ease sanctions on a nation rich in untapped resources and seen as one of Asia’s last frontier markets.

Reporting by Kiyoshi Takenaka; Editing by Sanjeev Miglani

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