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Belt & Road Initiative offers great opportunities to Japan, say experts

TOKYO, May 5 (Xinhua) -- China's Belt and Road Initiative offers great opportunities for Japanese enterprises and will help the country restructure its economy, say experts.

Proposed by China in 2013, the B&R Initiative aims to build a trade and infrastructure network connecting Asia with Europe, Africa and beyond based on ancient land and maritime trade routes.

Jin Jianmin, a senior fellow at Fujitsu Research Institute in Tokyo, said that with population aging and low fertility, Japan is particularly dependent on global free trade for its economic development.

The infrastructure projects along the Belt and Road route will present great business opportunities for Japanese enterprises, especially with efficient access to rising Eurasian economies, he said.

"Japan has been trying to reach free trade agreements with Europe and countries in the Asia-Pacific region, but lacks efficient access to the Eurasian area which now enjoys relatively fast development," said Jin, adding that the initiative can provide Japan with a chance to share in Eurasian growth.

He said that Japanese companies could also benefit from the expertise of Chinese enterprises in exploring emerging markets through cooperation under the B&R framework.

Eiichi Shindo, emeritus professor at University of Tsukuba, said that with emerging economies gradually overtaking their developed counterparts, Japan should grasp opportunities in the B&R to help grow its economy.

"The B&R Initiative embodies the trend of structural change in the Asian economy, and in face of the new circumstances in Asia, we should ride the trend and achieve win-win cooperations between China, Japan and South Korea and then expand such cooperation to the whole Eurasian area," he said.

In the eyes of Kiyoyuki Seguchi, research director of the Canon Institute for Global Studies in Tokyo, effective B&R projects will contribute to the medium and long-term economic development of the region and thus benefit the Japan.

"If projects with good content are effectively implemented, they can be expected to promote the globalization of many Japanese companies whose response to globalization has been delayed," Seguchi said.

Analysts point out that the Japanese government is increasingly aware of the benefits of the B&R. Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe said earlier this year that Japan would "properly respond" to individual projects related to the B&R.

Japanese media say that Tokyo plans to work with Beijing on the initiative by financially supporting private-sector partnerships. Cooperation will center on areas like the environment, industrial modernization and logistics.

Japan's new cooperative stance would also help improve bilateral ties with China, experts noted.

"With the government's attitude turning supportive, Japanese enterprises can start to find more direct ways of participation," said Jiang Yuechun, director of the Department for World Economy and Development Studies at China Institute of International Studies.

According to Seguchi, Japan has been suffering from economic stagnation since the 1990s. "If the Japanese economy could get out of this stagnation through cooperation with China and recover its vitality," Jiang said, "it would also make a greater contribution to the world economy


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