Page last updated at 12:01 GMT, Saturday, 31 January 2009

Japan announces Asia aid package

Prime Minister Taro Aso: 'I have decided on an economic stimulus package'

Japan's PM Taro Aso has announced a 1.5 trillion yen ($17bn;11.6bn) aid package to help Asian countries weather the economic downturn.

The money will be spent over three years on infrastructure projects and promoting trade.

It is hoped the proposed funding, which will be finalised at a summit later this year, will boost regional growth.

Mr Aso called on wealthy nations to help smaller countries and warned against protectionism.

Asia's banks have weathered the financial crisis better than their European and US counterparts.

But the region's export-dependent economies have been hit as the global downturn saps demand for consumer goods.

"Japan is ready to provide ODA (overseas development assistance) of not less than 1.5 trillion yen or about $17bn in total," Mr Aso told the World Economic Forum in Davos.

"It will be necessary to strengthen regional cooperation towards strengthening Asia's growth potential and expanding domestic demand," Mr Aso said.

Mr Aso also said that Japan's development assistance would be on the precondition "that the flow of trade and investment not be prohibited".

"We will resolutely fight all protectionism," he said.

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