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Despite budgetary constraints, Japan’s basic attitude toward providing Asian countries with official development assistance remains unchanged, Finance Minister Masajuro Shiokawa said Friday.

“Although we are in a situation in which we have to squarely tighten our ODA budget, Japan has not changed its stance on ODA,” Shiokawa said after a morning Cabinet meeting.

Shiokawa’s remarks came ahead of his departure to Shanghai for an annual meeting of the Asian Development Bank over the weekend.

He is also scheduled to meet with his counterparts from the Association of Southeast Asian Nations at another meeting on the sidelines of the ADB gathering.

Shiokawa said Tokyo’s position regarding ODA would be conveyed by the Japanese delegation during these two meetings.

In an effort to cut expenditure and help ease the country’s snowballing fiscal deficit, the government slashed ODA spending for the current fiscal year by 10 percent from the previous year.

The move has prompted concern among many Asian nations.

Shiokawa added that he will call for an expanded network of currency swap agreements among ASEAN and its three partners in the so-called ASEAN-Plus-Three — Japan, China and South Korea.

Currency swap agreements are aimed at countering potential financial crises.

“I want to expand the network as much as possible,” Shiokawa said.

Japan has thus far concluded bilateral swap agreements with China, Malaysia, the Philippines, South Korea and Thailand.

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