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Japan to loan nearly $2bn for Philippine rail project

Passengers wait for their train at a crumbling station in Manila: a $3.75-billion privately financed upgrade of the oldest railway system in Southeast Asia should get under way next year. (Photo by Jilson Tiu)

MANILA -- The Japanese government is readying to lend some 240 billion yen ($1.94 billion), one of its biggest single outlays of development aid ever, for a railway line designed to relieve traffic congestion here in the Philippine capital.

     This financing will mark the first splash of what Prime Minister Shinzo Abe hails as a stream of "quality" infrastructure investment by Japan across Asia. Abe has announced plans for $110 billion in Japan-backed infrastructure investment in Asia from 2016 to 2020, 30% more than in the preceding five years.

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