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Japan ready to help Malaysia tackle fiscal problems

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Staff Writer | Wednesday November 7, 2018 4:06AM ET
Shinzo Abe
Asia   Minister Shinzo Abe

Japan stands ready to help Malaysia deal with its huge government debts, Prime Minister Shinzo Abe told his visiting Malaysian counterpart Mahathir Mohamad in Tokyo on Tuesday, as the two countries seek to foster closer economic and cultural ties.

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Tokyo plans to help Malaysia issue yen-denominated “samurai” bonds worth ¥200 billion that would be guaranteed by the Japan Bank for International Cooperation, a senior Japanese official said.

Such samurai bonds can be issued with relatively low-interest rates and thus can help the country tackle its fiscal problems, the official said. “It was confirmed that we would aim for the issuance (of samurai bonds) guaranteed by the JBIC,” Abe told reporters during a joint news conference with Mahathir after their meeting.

Mahathir, 93, who began his second stint in power following his election in May, found out that the Malaysian government is saddled with a debt of 1.1 trillion ringgit ($263 billion) as of the end of last year, compared with the 686.8 billion ringgit claimed by the previous government led by Najib Razak.

During the same news conference, Mahathir thanked Abe for his “positive attitude,” saying Abe gave his assurance that he is ready to support Malaysia if Kuala Lumpur seeks further financial support from Japan.

Abe meanwhile praised Mahathir as a “longtime friend” of the country, as he has visited Japan over 100 times and promoted his “Look East” policy, under which Malaysia has sent 16,000 students and trainees to Japan over the past 36 years.


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