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Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe speaks at the International Conference on the Future of Asia.

Japan takes cautious turn toward China's 'Belt and Road'

Abe seen giving domestic companies room to join infrastructure projects

| China

TOKYO -- Japan is eager to cooperate with China's massive Belt and Road Initiative if Beijing can ensure fairness and transparency, Prime Minister Shinzo Abe said Monday, sensing an opportunity to shore up international norms as the Asian heavyweight's influence grows.

The infrastructure initiative "holds the potential to connect East and West as well as the diverse regions found in between," the prime minister said during a banquet at Nikkei Inc.'s annual International Conference on the Future of Asia. Beijing aims to create a vast sphere of economic influence in Asia, bound by a host of infrastructure projects, and Japan is "ready to extend cooperation" -- if China can meet three benchmarks.

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