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HOME  > Past issues  > 2015 July 22 - 28  > Japanese firms’ infrastructure export provokes negative consequences
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2015 July 22 - 28 [ECONOMY]

Japanese firms’ infrastructure export provokes negative consequences

July 21, 2015
Japan’s government led by Prime Minister Abe Shinzo is going ahead with the Infrastructure Systems Export Strategy as a pillar of its “Abenomics” economic policy. The government aims to increase Japanese companies’ exports of infrastructure systems to 30 trillion yen in 2020, which is three times the 2010 level.

The purpose of the economic strategy is to help large corporations in Japan receive more orders for infrastructure development from foreign countries so that those corporations can build their own power bases abroad and gain footholds in foreign markets. In order for big businesses to make huge profits, the government is increasing its economic and diplomatic functions, such as the Official Development Assistance (ODA), public financial support measures, and its network of contacts with other nations.

In March 2013, the Abe administration set up a ministerial team to discuss the infrastructure strategy. They classified target overseas markets into three groups and drew up marketing policies for each. The three regions are: China and Southeast Asia; Southwest Asia and the Middle East; and Africa.

The Abe government places great emphasis on African nations because they have abundant natural resources and their markets are expected to grow rapidly as their populations increase. However, a Japanese firm making inroads into the region has caused considerable friction with local residents.

In January 2014, PM Abe visited Mozambique with the leaders of 30 major Japanese corporations. Abe announced there a plan to provide to the country an ODA package amounting to about 70 billion yen for infrastructure construction. At the end of the same year, Mitsui & Co., whose executives had accompanied the prime minister on his visit to Africa, won a contract to initiate an infrastructure project in Mozambique.

In July 2015, representatives of a farmers’ organization in Mozambique came to Japan to call on the Japanese government to reconsider the ODA provided to their country. In an open meeting held in Tokyo on July 9, they noted that due to the coal development project involving Mitsui, some 10,000 local farmers are under pressure to abandon their land and relocate to other places.

Those Mozambicans went on to point out that a planned coal-fired thermal power station will transmit all the electricity it generates to neighboring South Africa, and that new railroads, which are to be built along the transportation routes established during the colonial period, will be designed to transport only goods and natural resource materials such as coal.

In addition to Mozambique, concerned citizens in other countries are staging campaigns opposing Japanese firms’ export of nuclear power plants to Turkey and Vietnam, and their construction project of a coal-burning power station in Indonesia.

Past related article:
> Abenomics infrastructure export would damage lives of local people [December 11, 2014]
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