Yen loans mulled for Panama monorail

JIJI

Japan is considering extending yen loans to Panama to help the Central American nation develop a monorail system in its capital, visiting Foreign Minister Fumio Kishida said.

In the face of severe traffic congestion in the Panama City metropolitan area, the country plans to build a 40-km urban rail system that crosses the Panama Canal. Hitachi Ltd., Mitsubishi Corp. and other Japanese firms are promoting monorail technologies for the project.

“We hope that Japan’s advanced technologies will be adopted,” Kishida said at a meeting with Panamanian President Ricardo Martinelli on Thursday.

Martinelli replied that constructing a monorail system in Panama City would be a symbolic project for all of Latin America.

Meanwhile, Kishida told Martinelli of Japan’s concerns about the doubling of tolls on the Panama Canal over the last five years. Collectively, Japanese companies are the fourth-heaviest user of the canal in the world.

Kishida called on Panama to ensure smooth canal traffic, noting that Japan hopes to import U.S. shale gas via the channel in the near future.