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Home > Media Reviews > News Review Last Updated: 14:54 03/09/2007
News Review #340: March 30, 2006

Japan Extends First Loans to Mongolia in Five Years

Reviewed by Hitoshi URABE

Japan Extends First Loans to Mongolia in Five Years
(Steve Herman) Voice of America


Mongolian Prime Minister M. Enkhbold visited Japan for 5 days from 26th Sunday to 30th Thursday. This is his first overseas trip since he took office in the current regime this January, which, according to the reports, he had strong desire to make it so. Indeed, he could not have chosen a better timing.

Mr Enkhbold, upon arriving in Japan on Sunday, immediately went to Osaka where the spring sumo tournament was being held, and Sunday was the last day when the tournament champion was to be determined. The championship was won by Asashoryu, in the rank of yokozuna - the strongest -, through a fierce match against Hakuho, in the rank of sekiwake - the third in rank. The point was both of the sumo wrestlers were Mongolians. The Premier presented the certificate and cup named after the Mongolian State Head to the tournament winner Asashoryu. In fact, the cup was refined in 2003 under the initiative of Mr Enkhbold himself, who at the time was the Ulaanbaatar City Mayor and Vice President of the Mongolian Sumo Association. The runner-up Hakuho was promoted to ozeki, the second in rank, immediately after the tournament.

Mongolia is a country four times the size of Japan, with the population of 2.5 million - one-fiftieth (2%) of that of Japan. Because of its geo-political position, Mongolia, then called the Mongol People's Republic, was a communist-run state. Since 1990, it endeavored to adopt a market oriented, capitalistic economy. Being sandwiched between Russia and China, the establishment of a market-oriented economy has been going through a bumpy road.

While its northern neighbor Russia still has significant political and economic influence in Ulaanbaator, recently China has emerged as Mongolia's primary political and economic partner. But, as explained in the article introduced above, "many Mongolians remain wary, fearing that China's influence and ambitions could overwhelm Mongolia's economy and culture," - one reason for seeking closer ties with Japan.

Mongolia has more than 100 troops in Iraq on a peacekeeping mission, in part to secure its relationship with the U.S. and its allies. In his discussions with Prime Minister Koizumi, Mr Enkhbold expressed his support for Japan, India, and Germany to become the permanent member of the U.N. Security Council.

Japan has been the largest donor to Mongolia since 1991- after the democratization and implementation of the market economy. Most of the assistance has been provided in terms other than in the form of loans in recent years, as loans were suspended in 2001 due to Mongol's debt service problem with Russia, and other technicalities. This time, Japan and Mongolia signed an agreement under which Japan will provide Mongolia with about 3 billion yen (about 25 million USD) in loans to develop small and medium-size enterprises and protect the environment. Advancement of a loan is a reflection of the Mongolian economy showing progress, and by which its credibility is being promoted.

This year marks the 800th anniversary since Genghis Khan founded the Mongolian Empire. It is important for Japan, too, to keep a good relationship with Mongolia - to maintain a friendly regime in the surrounding regions of Asia.

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