Shinzo Abe

TOKYO (TIP): Japan’s Prime Minister Shinzo Abe announced on Thursday a $110 billion investment plan for infrastructure projects in Asia in an apparent counter to China’s move to launch a new development bank.

Abe said in a speech in Tokyo that Japan and the Asian Development Bank (ADB) will boost their assistance by 30 per cent to offer the massive investment aid under a five-year public-private partnership vision.

“By attracting diverse funds, we hope to bring changes to Asia,” Abe said in prepared remarks, in the latest twist in the tussle for influence in the fast-growing region.

“In the long run, we’d like to spread quality infrastructure and innovative infrastructure in Asia,” Abe said, according to Kyodo News.

The sum is just slightly higher than the expected $100 billion capital of the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB) that Beijing and more than 50 founding member states are establishing.

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Japan and the United States were the biggest standouts earlier this year when Beijing began courting members for the AIIB.

Washington led a high-profile, and ultimately unsuccessful, attempt to dissuade allies from taking part in the project, which critics say will not demand the same good-governance and environmental standards imposed by other international bodies, such as the ADB, a long-established body in which Tokyo plays a key role.

However, supporters say fears over undue Chinese influence are overblown, and that the participation by more than 50 countries, including ones as diverse as Britain and Iran, will dilute Beijing’s power.

Few observers doubt there is a need for billions of dollars of investment in infrastructure in Asia.

The region also offers rich opportunities for countries with strong infrastructure industries, like Japan.

But political and other risks in doing business in Asia have discouraged some businesses from making long-term investments.

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