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Friday, November 06, 2009

Japan’s Hatoyama Pledges $5.5 Billion in Aid to Mekong Nations

By Sachiko Sakamaki

Nov. 6 (Bloomberg) -- Japan pledged at least 500 billion yen ($5.5 billion) in aid to five Southeast Asian nations that share the Mekong river over the next three years to spur economic development and fight climate change.

Prime Minister Yukio Hatoyama said developing the Mekong region will accelerate economic integration among members of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations. The Mekong region is “key” to promoting Hatoyama’s idea of an “East Asian Community” modeled on the European Union and that would eventually have a regional currency, according to a Japanese government official who briefed reporters.

The leaders of Thailand, Vietnam, Cambodia, Laos and Myanmar welcomed Japan’s pledge at the first Japan-Mekong summit in Tokyo, the official said.
Attendees included Thai Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva and his Cambodian counterpart Hun Sen, whose countries have recalled their respective ambassadors after Cambodia named fugitive ex-Thai premier Thaksin Shinawatra an economic adviser.

Also present were Laotian Prime Minister Bouasone Bouphavanh, Myanmar Prime Minister Thein Sein and Vietnamese Prime Minister Nguyen Tan Dung.

Japan is now giving roughly 160-170 billion yen a year to the five countries, the official said.
President Barack Obama, on his first trip to Asia, is scheduled to co-chair with Abhisit a Nov. 15 summit of Southeast Asian leaders that will include Hun Sen.

To contact the reporters on this story: Sachiko Sakamaki in Tokyo at;

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