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Japan to pay off bad debts

Will provide $43 billion extra to support Asia

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A senior Japanese cabinet minister has outlined his government's plans to return to stability and to promote cooperation in the Far East. Hisamitsu Arai, vice minister for international affairs of the Japanese ministry of international trade and industry (MITI), outlined steps that he considered needed to be taken for the entire region to recover. He said that three challenges stricken countries had in common included economic structural reform, stronger Asian partnerships and international policy coordination. Arai said Japan was supporting Thailand and other ASEAN countries and was providing $43 billion in financial and capital support to promote liquidity and other reforms throughout the region. He claimed such measures were "critical" to relieve short term impacts which arose from the supply demand gap and credit crunch that was afflicting the area. He added that newly appointed cabinet of Japanese PM Keizo Obuchi was focusing on tax reform initiatives and unspecified "other measures" aimed at re-vitalising Japan's financial system. One reform mentioned was the settlement of bad loans, particularly in real estate. Last week, Japan came under criticism from the International Monetary Fund (IMF) for failing to react quickly enough to the crisis. Arai also said Japan will continue to cooperate with the IMF and also initiate a closer policy dialogue between his country and the United States. He claimed that Japan was determined to work with its Asian neighbours, including mainland China, to overcome "the pessimism and scepticism" directed at the region. ®

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