Politics › Japan pushing 'quality' aid to counter China's clout in ASEAN

Unable to match dollar-for-dollar China’s massive investment in Southeast Asia, Japan’s future relevance in the region appears to hinge on it convincingly offering a “quality over quantity” approach.

Signs the Japanese government has picked up on this strategy could be seen in Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s packed diary during a series of gatherings connected to the Association of Southeast Asian Nations in the Laotian capital Vientiane last week.

In a summit with ASEAN leaders, Abe stressed Japan’s resolve to continue to support enhanced economic integration in the 10-nation bloc with “high-quality” infrastructure investment.

“For Japan, it’s a race…it’s about investment and trade, and in every aspect China is forging ahead and trying to leave Japan behind, and Japan is trying to play a catch-up role,” said Purnendra Jain, professor of Asian Studies at the University of Adelaide.

During a flurry of bilateral …
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