ミャンマー支援 民主化と経済再建に弾みを

The Yomiuri Shimbun (Oct. 14, 2012)
Myanmar reforms need wholehearted support
ミャンマー支援 民主化と経済再建に弾みを(10月13日付・読売社説)

We welcome moves by the international community to build a system to underpin Myanmar's reform efforts toward democratization. The country needs help in boosting its political reform and economic rebuilding efforts.

A meeting on Myanmar was held in Tokyo on Thursday, with the participation of developed countries and international organizations, including the World Bank and the Asian Development Bank.

During the meeting, creditors agreed to write off Myanmar's outstanding debts in January and resume financial aid to the country after an interval of more than 20 years.

Japan, Myanmar's largest creditor, said it will forgive most of the 500 billion yen debt owed to this country and resume yen loans for the first time in 26 years at the earliest possible date next year.

To enable the World Bank and the ADB to extend new loans to Myanmar, Japan also decided to provisionally shoulder the country's arrears to help it repay its creditors.

It is significant that Japan, which has been proactive in improving its relations with Myanmar, took the initiative in paving the way for the international community to provide full-fledged support to the country.

Developed countries imposed economic sanctions on Myanmar for many years, citing such reasons as human rights abuses under the military junta. As a result, the country lags other members of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations and is the poorest country in the region.


Country's great potential

However, Myanmar democracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi was released from house arrest in 2010, and the country saw a power shift from the military to a civilian government in the spring of 2011. Since then, the government led by President Thein Sein has promoted democratization.

This significant change was hailed by the international community, and Myanmar managed to win pledges for a resumption of international aid.

Myanmar has a population of more than 60 million and is rich in natural resources. Hopes are high that Myanmar, the so-called last frontier in Asia, will achieve rapid economic growth.

ADB President Haruhiko Kuroda said that if the country makes sufficient progress in domestic reforms, it could catch up with other ASEAN countries in the next five to 10 years.

With the backing of financial aid and investment from developed countries and other lenders, Myanmar's economic development should accelerate.


Building infrastructure is key

The main challenges the country faces are its abysmal infrastructure, such as electricity and railway systems, and its inadequate educational, medical and other social services. Japan aims to use yen loans to provide materials and expertise to develop the country's infrastructure.

Major trading houses and other companies have already launched projects in Myanmar. The government plans to fully cooperate with these companies to develop Myanmar's special economic zones.

For Japanese companies, Myanmar is highly likely to become a new production base in Asia. Cooperation between the public and private sectors must be strengthened.

Although Myanmar has strong ties with China, its major trading partner, it apparently harbors concern about Beijing's clout.

In light of this, Japan's wholehearted support for Myanmar could put a brake on China, which is attempting to increase its presence in the region.

(From The Yomiuri Shimbun, Oct. 13, 2012)
(2012年10月13日02時14分 読売新聞)

by kiyoshimat | 2012-10-15 08:41 | 英字新聞

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