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Japan committed to push infrastructure exports

Public, private sectors hope new game plan leads to competitive bids

Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Japanese counterpart Shinzo Abe pose in front of a bullet train under construction at Kawasaki Heavy Industries' Hyogo factory on Nov. 12, 2016.

TOKYO -- Japan's government is working to wrap up a revised strategy for promoting infrastructure exports. The focus is on comprehensive support for urban development projects -- from initial planning to regulatory development to fundraising.

The government plans to approve the revised strategy before Thursday. Once approved, the plan will be included in the government's 2017 basic policies on economic and fiscal management and reform. These policies are to be finalized next month.

Japanese industry is struggling to win overseas infrastructure development projects. A Japanese bid for a high-speed rail project in Indonesia recently lost out to a Chinese bidder. Another Japanese bid, to build a suspension bridge in Turkey, was skipped over for a bid from South Korea.   

Beijing, under its "Belt and Road" initiative, is leveraging its Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank to win overseas infrastructure contracts. Japan, on the other hand, is relying on what it bills as "high-level services" to win bids.

The government has set a goal of Japan Inc. exporting 30 trillion yen ($268 billion) worth of infrastructure packages by 2020.

The draft strategy states that Japan Inc. will seek to get involved in infrastructure projects as early as the development phase, then contribute to a project over the long term, even after construction is completed.

Japan Inc. will offer to draft or review plans for urban development and national land planning, mainly in ASEAN countries. Once projects are complete, it will try to sell operational, maintenance and personnel training services. It will also offer consulting services regarding the writing of regulations.

The revised plan calls for focusing on electricity, railroad and telecommunications projects. Relevant authorities, private sector parties and industry lobbies are together finalizing numerical targets and other details.

Japan Inc. could potentially target India for bullet trains. It also sees potential customers in the Association of Southeast Asian Nations for high-speed rail systems, other rail and subway networks and nonrail public transportation projects. There are also expectations of winning bids for coal-fired power plants and biometric authentication systems.

The draft also calls on Japan Inc. to offer assistance for a high-speed railway connecting Malaysia and Singapore as well as for a U.S. maglev train project. In addition, it calls on partnering with Russian parties to sell postal and medical image scanning technologies.

Infrastructure needs across the globe from 2000 through 2030 are expected to have required/require total investments of 8.52 quadrillion yen. In Asia alone, the amount for the years from 2010 to 2020 is expected to end up being 960 trillion yen.

As the population of young people and demand dwindle in Japan, the country's traditional domestic demand focused industries are struggling to remain competitive. The government thinks it can lend them a hand by promoting infrastructure exports.


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