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Japan-Update

Japan seeks out more global infrastructure projects

Transport ministry sees early involvement as key to winning business

TOKYO -- Japan's transport ministry is keeping an eye on 22 additional overseas projects, such as plans for an urban railway in Bangkok and a subway in Manila, for the next three to four years as part of its push to export infrastructure.

The Japanese government is seeking greater private-sector involvement in bids for such projects as more emerging nations steer away from official development assistance, which can add to their foreign debt. By involving itself in the planning stages, the government hopes to help Japanese companies to win contracts.

In its updated plan, the transport ministry listed a total of 76 projects, broken down by region, for potential Japanese involvement. It added projects such as construction of Myanmar's Bago River Bridge, high-speed upgrades to a railway that cuts across the Indonesian island of Java, as well as expansions of Sri Lanka's Colombo Port South Harbor and Russia's Khabarovsk Novy International Airport.

In the U.S., there is "growing interest in high-speed rail as a new mode of inter-city travel," according to the ministry. At a planned economic dialogue with the Americans, Japan will discuss possible infrastructure investment deals. Proposals for an East Coast maglev railway and high-speed rail projects in Texas and California were kept from last year's list as priorities.

Japan is touting high-quality infrastructure exports, stressing such strengths as technology and on-time completion. But it has lost out in cost competition to China and South Korea for a number of recent opportunities. The transport ministry outlined ways to lower costs in its plan, such as mobilizing financing from the state-backed Japan Bank of International Cooperation.

(Nikkei)

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