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Japan to help fund a Southern Corridor linking Cambodia, Thailand, Vietnam & Myanmar

Japan to help fund a Southern Corridor linking Cambodia, Thailand, Vietnam & Myanmar

Joachim de Villiers and Lee Jay Walker 

Modern Tokyo Times



Prime Minister Noda and other leading politicians are intent on expanding the influence of Japan internationally and the latest pledge of two trillion yen looks very promising. This applies to developing the transportation infrastructure of south-east Asia and creating a new network which will open up the region to Japanese companies and other nations.

The “southern corridor” is intended to link Ho Chi Minh City (Vietnam) with Phnom Penh (Cambodia) and Bangkok (Thailand), and ultimately with the Dawei Seaport (Myanmar). Therefore, Japan pledged to give ASEAN two trillion yen in order to create a new economic hub and help with exporting and importing respective goods with India.

Also, given piracy in the Malacca Straits and other factors, then this development would open up parts of India for trade and bypass many negative factors which currently exist. Not only this, nations like Cambodia and Myanmar would benefit greatly and the construction boom would set in motion many other developments.

Not all the two trillion yen will be given to this sole project but clearly this was an important aspect of the pledge to ASEAN. Therefore, the construction of highways, roads, and ports, would help the entire region and reduce costs. Also, it is a reminder to China that Japan is waking up from a deep sleep because the “quietist policy” appeared to hinder Japan’s long term prospects.

Of course, the economic factor is the main concern and Japan values economic trade with China and hopefully in the future both nations will increase economic and political initiatives. However, often in the past it seemed that Japan lacked real resolve and this can be seen by China developing relations with many African nations because a vacuum existed.

After all, modernity happened in Japan first and given the natural resources of many African nations and the need for major economic development, it was essential for Japan to lead the way. Yet this never happened and clearly many African nations have sided with China in the international arena based on politics coming out of Beijing.

Noda, the new leader of Japan, is certainly intent on focusing on the international arena and this can be seen by recent events.  This applies to making positive overtures to South Korea; a possible visit to North Korea providing the abduction issue can be solved; agreement of nuclear reactors being built in Vietnam and other economic initiatives; first ever bilateral naval exercise between Japan and India; deployment of peacekeeping troops to South Sudan; promising to focus on territorial issues with the Russian Federation based on mutual understanding; and other initiatives.

Naoyuki Fukuda, who is a staff writer at The Asahi Shimbun, commented that “The Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry, which is taking a leading role in infrastructure export policy, is aggressively seeking ways for Japanese manufacturers to set up bases in India, a vast market with high annual growth.”

“If a parts supply chain could be established between Japan and India through the southern corridor, Japanese parts manufacturers would reap huge benefits,” said a high-ranking ministry official.”

“A major point for the corridor’s construction will be the development of the economic special zone at Dawei in Myanmar, which currently has no overland routes to Thailand.”

The “southern corridor” sounds like a great plan because it will open up the region to major trade and development and India looms large in the minds of many companies. However, you still have many obstacles and this applies to political factors and other areas but the idea does seem feasible. The Asahi Shimbun


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