Japan pledges $500 mln in ODA to Vietnam

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Japan will provide Vietnam US$500 million in official development assistance for several infrastructure projects this year, news website Vietnamplus reported.

Japan's Foreign Affairs Minister Fumio Kishida made the announcement at the fifth Vietnam-Japan Cooperation Committee meeting in Tokyo on September 12.

His Vietnamese counterpart Pham Binh Minh said Japan was one of Vietnam's leading strategic economic partners.

Minh said Vietnam was moving to improve its business environment for its foreign investors, a group that includes 1,200 Japanese companies.

Besides the ODA, Japan pledged to cooperate with Vietnam in developing infrastructure projects under the public-private partnership model, a model new to Vietnam.

The pledge of $500 million came as a surprise to analysts who assumed that Japan would halt such provisions following a scandal related to Vietnam's ineffective use of loans.

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The controversy involves the $650.55-million Nhat Tan Bridge, jointly backed by the two nations, which will be completed in May 2014, a 27-month delay due to problems with site clearance.

Tien Phong (Vanguard) newspaper has quoted Akira Shimizu, senior representative of the Japan International Cooperation Agency, as saying thatJapan would not cut loans to Vietnam because of the issue.

Japan has granted more bilateral ODA to Vietnam than any other nation over the past 20 years, accounting for a total of US$12.7 billion in funds, according to official data.

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