Abe to make 3-day visit to Myanmar from next Friday

Prime Minister Shinzo Abe plans to make a three-day visit to Myanmar from next Friday in a bid to strengthen bilateral ties, a Japanese government source said Saturday.

Abe, who will be accompanied by top executives from more than 30 Japanese companies, is expected to hold talks with Myanmar President Thein Sein on improving the investment environment in the southeast Asian nation for expansion of Japanese investments there.

At the summit with Thein Sein, Abe is also likely to unveil measures to help Myanmar's development. In March, Tokyo announced it will provide Myanmar with yen-denominated loans for the first time in 26 years.

Abe is keen for Japanese companies to benefit from the growth of Asian economies and to make a pitch for Japan's infrastructure exports, a vital part of Japan's growth strategy, the source said.

In particular, Myanmar has increasingly lured foreign investments since its transition to a democratic government in March 2011, as it is widely seen as Asia's last frontier with relatively cheap and abundant labor and plentiful natural resources.

Abe also hopes his upcoming trip will counter China's influence on Myanmar, which was backed by Beijing while under military rule, the source said.