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Sri Lankan Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe poses with Japanese Foreign Minister Taro Kono during their meeting in Colombo, Sri Lanka, Jan. 5, 2018 (AP photo by Eranga Jayawardena).

Is Japan Trying to Counter China’s Belt and Road With Its Own Development Plans?

Tuesday, Feb. 13, 2018

Last month, Japanese Foreign Minister Taro Kono traveled to Sri Lanka, where he announced Tokyo’s plans to invest in several infrastructure projects, including a natural gas terminal. It was the first visit to Sri Lanka by a Japanese foreign minister in 15 years. Following similar Japanese investment projects in India and elsewhere in the region, the Sri Lanka trip appeared to be the latest sign of a growing strategy aimed at countering China’s massive Belt and Road Initiative, also known as One Belt, One Road. In an email interview, Shihoko Goto, the senior Northeast Asia associate at the Wilson Center’s Asia Program, discusses Japan’s response to China’s nearly $1 trillion infrastructure and development plans, the relative strengths of Japan’s development strategy, and how America’s changing policy in Asia has affected Tokyo’s calculus.

WPR: How has Japan responded to the challenge posed by China’s Belt and Road Initiative, and where has it made progress in terms of developing infrastructure partnerships in Asia? ...

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