SINGAPORE (Kyodo) Japan and the five Mekong countries have identified several priority projects under a cooperation initiative agreed to last year for economic development of the subregion, one of the least developed areas in the world.

The priority areas recommended by Japan’s private sector and the five countries in the Mekong River basin — Thailand, Vietnam, Cambodia, Laos and Myanmar — range from the construction of deep-water seaports, railways and roads to the development of a power grid linking all five countries and the export of Japanese clean-energy technology, including nuclear power, to the region.

The private sector’s recommendations were made at the first dialogue meeting between the five countries and the Japanese government and private sector in May, attended by some 80 Japanese companies and major firms from the Mekong countries, which have been selected to advise the two sides on infrastructure development.

They included about 30 Japanese firms and agencies, including Honda Motor Co., Hitachi Ltd., Itochu Corp., Mitsui & Co., Electric Power Develop Co., the Japan Business Federation (Nippon Keidanren) and the Japanese Chamber of Commerce and Industry.

The two sides are now working on action plans for the Mekong-Japan Economic and Industrial Cooperation Initiative, a framework agreed on at the first Japan-Mekong summit last November.

The private sector’s recommendations are expected to be taken into account at the next meeting of the economic ministers in Danang, Vietnam, next month.

The framework initiative will help Japan export its expertise in infrastructure development to the Mekong subregion while opening business opportunities for Japanese companies. It is also expected to give a big boost to the region’s economic development.

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