News Summary: Japanese leader visiting Myanmar

The Associated Press
May 24, 2013
News Summary: Japanese leader visiting Myanmar

Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and his wife Akie wave before boarding a plane at Tokyo's Haneda Airport Friday, May 24, 2013. Abe is traveling to Myanmar for a three-day trip, the first visit to the country by a Japanese leader in 36 years. (AP Photo/Kyodo News) JAPAN OUT, MANDATORY CREDIT

LONG TIME GONE: Prime Minister Shinzo Abe arrived in Myanmar on Friday on the first visit to the country by a Japanese leader in 36 years. Tokyo wants to expand economic ties after frosty relations with the previous military regime.

HISTORY: Japan had close ties with Myanmar before the junta took power in 1988, prompting Tokyo to suspend grants for major projects. It scaled back most business activity when the U.S. and other Western nations imposed sanctions in 2003.

REVIVAL: With democratic reforms in Myanmar, Abe plans to sign agreements to provide Japanese grant money for human resources development and to extend the first Japanese government loan to the impoverished but resource-rich country since it canceled $3.58 billion in debt in January.