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Gov't urges Japanese firms to take part in 'One Belt, One Road' initiative

The Japanese government has drawn up guidelines encouraging Japanese firms to cooperate in China's "One Belt, One Road" economic-zone initiative, the Mainichi Shimbun has learned.

    By taking part in the initiative, which is seen as the modern equivalent of trade along the Silk Road, and catering to infrastructure and other needs, the government hopes to promote Japan's economic growth and also improve Japan-China relations.

    As it gears toward involvement in the project, the Japanese government is planning to explain the scheme to institutions within the business world -- such as the Japan Business Federation (Keidanren) -- with the aim of encouraging firms to collaborate with Chinese companies in areas such as Southeast Asia.

    In November, Prime Minister Shinzo Abe agreed with Chinese President Xi Jinping during a meeting in Vietnam that, "The development of Japan-China business, even in other countries, is not just beneficial for both nations but also for those other relevant nations."

    However, there has also been a sense of caution on the Japanese side concerning the initiative -- with certain voices in the business world such as a manufacturing sector executive stating, "The extent to which we should get involved, and carry out investment, is unclear."

    Therefore, in response to such concerns, it was deemed necessary that the Japanese government clarify the exact fields and conditions regarding its request for Japanese involvement. Consequently, the prime minister's office and four government ministries -- the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the Finance Ministry, the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry and the Ministry of Land, Infrastructure, Transport and Tourism -- came up with the specific guidelines in late November.

    The guidelines emphasize that the government will encourage economic cooperation in the private sector between Japan and China. The document also mentions forms of government support such as one-to-one reviews for companies wanting to conduct feasibility studies or support that can be offered by government-backed financial institutions.

    The specific fields of cooperation laid out in the guidelines are; driving cooperation in the field of energy conversation and the environment; advancement in industry; and distribution of goods between Asia and Europe. In addition, the development and management of solar-power generation, wind-power generation and gas or coal-fired power generation have also been listed as enterprises that will be focused on.

    Participation in the joint development of industrial parks in Thailand's "Eastern Economic Corridor" has also been listed. However, certain projects that could be exploited for military purposes, such as port maintenance, are not being encouraged.

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