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September 3, 2013

JICA President Tanaka Visits Laos
Announces continued cooperation aimed at balanced economic development

photoJICA President Akihiko Tanaka, left, holds talks with Prime Minister Thongsing Thammavong of Laos.

JICA President Akihiko Tanaka visited Laos from Aug. 28 to 30. He held talks with key figures including Prime Minister Thongsing Thammavong and visited the sites of JICA-assisted projects.

In his talks with Prime Minister Thongsing, they exchanged opinions on regional connectivity (1), which is key to ASEAN development, and, in order to achieve the national objectives of Laos with an eye to 2015 ASEAN integration, President Tanaka announced balanced continued cooperation that keeps in mind that while economic development is an urgent issue, there are negative effects along the way. Prime Minister Thongsing expressed the high value he places on the many years of cooperation by Japan, which has been Laos's largest partner country since 1991, and on the role Japan has played in the development of Laos, as well as on the friendship between the two nations. He also said he hoped for Japan's continued cooperation on issues Laos must address, including improvement of basic infrastructure and the investment environment, which contribute to poverty reduction.

President Tanaka also held talks with Somdy Douangdy, minister of Planning and Investment, and Phouphet Khamphounvong, minister of Finance, and they exchanged opinions about development in Laos in recent years, topics related to ASEAN regional integration and JICA's cooperation.

photoStakeholders from Japan and Laos with a bus provided by Japan at Vientiane Capital State Bus Enterprise.

President Tanaka also visited the sites of such JICA-assisted official development assistance (ODA) projects as Nam Ngum 1 Hydropower Station (2); Vientiane Capital State Bus Enterprise, for which JICA is expanding grants for the acquisition of buses and technical cooperation for the improvement of management and service; and the Clean Agriculture Development Center (3), which JICA is supporting with the Laos Pilot Program for Narrowing the Development Gap towards ASEAN Integration (4). Through these visits, as well as through interviews with the stakeholders in the Japanese Chamber of Commerce and Industry, Vientiane, JICA experts in investment promotion, and JICA midwife and elementary school volunteers, President Tanaka confirmed that Japan's ODA is contributing to the socioeconomic development of Laos.

In entering Laos, President Tanaka traveled approximately 600 kilometers over land in the East-West Economic Corridor (5), stretching from Huế, Vietnam, to Savannakhet, Laos. Along the way he visited the site of the Project for Improvement of the National Road Route 9 and the Savan-Seno Special Economic Zone, exchanged opinions with the governor of Savannakhet Province and Japanese businesses expanding into the special economic zone, and he visited the Second Mekong International Bridge (6).

President Tanaka wrapped up his three-day stay in Laos and departed for Japan on Aug. 30.

Notes:

2. Japan assisted with the construction of the hydropower station through grants and Japanese ODA loans beginning in the 1960s, and starting in the 2000s, Japan has assisted with the maintenance of the first and second units. And today Japan is supporting the construction of a power generation unit through a Japanese ODA loan.

3. As a model farm in Laos for the practice and diffusion of the Good Agricultural Practices, one issue in ASEAN integration, it is a base for technical guidance for producers.

4. In which the Laotian Government, ASEAN and JICA are working to create models for cooperation to contribute to correcting disparities within the ASEAN region. As a pilot project, it is carrying out technical assistance in the fields of agriculture, the environment and tourism.

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