Japan Emphasizes Need for Govt Support of Thilawa Project

Local fishermen pass by container ships at Thilawa Port, south of Rangoon. (Photo: Reuters)

Local fishermen pass by container ships at Thilawa Port, south of Rangoon. (Photo: Reuters)

RANGOON — Pledging its support for plans to develop the Thilawa port near Burma’s largest city, the Japanese government stressed on Wednesday that the success of the project would depend largely on the commitment of the Burmese government and people.

“They [the Burmese] must take chief responsibility for this project, since it is in their country,” said Ichiro Maruyama, the deputy chief of mission at the Japanese embassy in Rangoon.

Speaking at a press conference on Wednesday, Maruyama said the Japanese government would help Burma if it can’t afford to pay for its 51 percent stake in the project, which will turn the Thilawa port, located about 25 km south of Rangoon, into a special economic zone (SEZ).

Deputy Minister of National Planning and Economic Development Set Aung, who is also the acting chairman of the Thilawa SEZ Management Committee, told The Irrawaddy that Japan has asked the Burmese government to form a public company to get the project off the ground.

“They [Japan] asked us to form a company as a first step to bring in private investors, and they also want the government to buy shares in the company to demonstrate its commitment to the project,” he said.

“If the government buys into the company, Japan will be more confident about getting involved,” he added.

The project faces numerous hurdles, including Burma’s chronic power shortages and its still shaky legal infrastructure for foreign investment. However, Maruyama said that Japan is committed to doing its part to make the project a success.

“Japan caused a lot of problems for Burma during the Second World War, so this is why we want to help now,” said Maruyama, adding that Japan is also keen to support Burma’s ongoing democratic transition.

To support the Thilawa project, and as part of its efforts to help Burma develop its economy, Japan has also pledged to open technical institutes in the country that will bring in experts from around the region.

Burma and Japan signed a memorandum of understanding in December agreeing to cooperate on the Thilawa SEZ, which will include factories for both high-tech and labor-intensive industries. The project covers an area of more than 2,000 hectares and straddles Thanlyin and Kyauktan Townships in Rangoon Division.

Japan is Burma’s 12th largest source of foreign investment, having injected just US $217 million into the country’s economy since 1988. However, in the wake of recent political and economic reforms, Japanese companies have shown a strong interest in returning to Burma to take advantage of its young labor force and abundant natural resources.

Japanese Finance Minister Taro Aso traveled to Burma last week, offering to provide $576 million in fresh low-interest loans by March after writing off overdue debt totaling around $5.8 billion by the end of January.

Aso visited Thilawa last Friday after meeting President Thein Sein in Naypyidaw the previous day. It was the first overseas trip by a member of the newly formed cabinet of Japan’s recently elected Prime Minister Shinzo Abe.

2 Responses to Japan Emphasizes Need for Govt Support of Thilawa Project

  1. The Japanese might be careful. All the money they invest in Burma might go into the pockets of Burmese junta.

    • To be fair, that is THE NORMAL way in ALL so-called THIRD WORD countries, for all the projects, all the time.


      It is the very job of standard immoral international business communities’ ( which includes Japan and Korea at the forefront) to screw raw any ignorant and vulnerable countries around the world for their own benefit. And it is the traditional obligation of the governing entities of those countries of any name or colour and their entourage- cronies- to get a cut of the immoral largesse.

      BUT it is always up to how much GREED the expectant public have for things they will NEVER get (Hsin-Lee Khwe- Myaw) but believe they will get one day reading the “media” and listening to all the leading opinion makers of speeches about the Thein Sein/ his sidekick Aung San Suu Kyi led “Law-ka-neik ban”. (or is it called “Democracy”? even though more like Bulldozerocracy- ask people from Latpadaung)

      N.B (Law-ba, it used to be called in Burma but no one, especially the monks, mentions it any more. Law-ba is indeed now encouraged to have.To embrace. Richest country, biggest, highest houses, buildings, biggest roads, fastest 4G, etc, etc, biggest fancy theme parks,…..) Law-ba is so, soooo Gooooood! We embrace Law-ba),

      Simple really. Much as you have greed, you will suffer. More like Law-ka Nga-ye.

      People are poor not because there is no port, but because of the theft of the people in power with guns and the incessant fightings. But as people are none-nyunt (ignorant), they believe the government’s and the leading voices’ line that the Sit-tut has to be big and expensively supplied (easier task once the American starts selling guns and toy drones) and keep on fighting and invite the international autoimmunities to come in and loot.

      But enjoy. Enjoy Thilawa, Tavoy, Kyauk phyu, Latpadaung, Ignore those dead or would-soon, very-soon- will-be-very-very-dead Kachins in the jungles along with more numerous Bamar Sit-thars who, as a rule come from poor families (because they are poor, they surely have NO feeling!) like their American counterparts.

      Oh- is that an iPAD 4? Does it do 4G?

      By the way, Sasakawa, most powerful Yakuza, is the very people who supported the Kem-pe-tai during the war and their close friends conducted live human medical experiments in Manchuria which made Josef Mangele look like a a minnow compared to the Japanese whale (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Unit_731) . Still it is OK because they are now with the United Nations, the most moral organization in the world and are certified by Aung San Suu Kyi. And they now come here to fight Leprosy. That’s all.

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