YANGON, May 27 (Xinhua) -- Myanmar President U Thein Sein and Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe have vowed to lay a new foundation to further enhance bilateral ties and economic and trade cooperation.
In a joint statement issued at the end of Abe's three-day official goodwill visit to Myanmar Sunday, Abe pledged to support Myanmar's reform and work towards mutual prosperity.
The statement called for enhancing people-to-people and cultural exchange and strengthening political and security cooperation regionally.
During his visit, Abe had talks with U Thein Sein in Nay Pyi Taw on a wide range of sectors including cooperation between Yangon University and Nagoya University, cooperation in health system, establishing Japan-Myanmar Legal Center, building infrastructure, investment for development of small and medium enterprises, technical assistance in terms of banking and micro- finance systems and human resources development.
The two countries also signed notes on Japan's provision of new development aid, in which Japan pledged a total of 91 billion yen' s fresh aid to Myanmar for development of three main sectors including the 51 billion yen's loan for development of infrastructural development projects for Thilawa Special Economic Zone and the 40 billion yen's grant aid for rural region development, poverty alleviation and human resources development.
According to the notes signed, Japan also waived again remaining 188.6 billion yens in debt owed by Myanmar.
As of April 2012, Myanmar owed Japan a total debt of 502.4 billion yens, of which 198.9 billion yens turned normal loan in January 2013, while another amount of 127.4 billion yens was written off later in January.
During Abe's visit, nine Myanmar public companies and a consortium of three Japanese firms comprising Mitsubishi, Marubeni and Sumitomo signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) on development of Myanmar's Thilawa SEZ.
Abe, besides meeting with opposition leader and parliamentarian Aung San Suu Kyi, also addressed a Myanmar-Japan business seminar at Myanmar's Federation of Chambers of Commerce and Industry in Yangon.
Abe, accompanied by business leaders from more than 30 Japanese companies and arrived Yangon on Friday, is the first Japanese prime minister who has visited Myanmar in 36 years since 1977 when former Japanese prime minister Takeo Fukuda came to the country.
According to official statistics, bilateral trade between Myanmar and Japan totaled 1.414 billion dollars in 2012, of which Myanmar's import from Japan took 1.053 billion dollars, while its export to the East Asian nation stood 360.79 million dollars.
Japan's investment in Myanmar amounted to 270.283 million U.S. dollars as of March 2013 since Myanmar opened to such investment in late 1988 and standing the 11th in Myanmar's foreign investment line-up.