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Japan pension funds denies investment as sop to Trump

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Japan's public pension fund on Thursday denied a report it will invest in US infrastructure as part of Prime Minister Shinzo Abe's expected offer to President Donald Trump to help boost US employment.

[TOKYO] Japan's public pension fund on Thursday denied a report it will invest in US infrastructure as part of Prime Minister Shinzo Abe's expected offer to President Donald Trump to help boost US employment.

The leading business daily Nikkei said, without citing sources, that the Government Pension Investment Fund (GPIF), the world's largest, will buy debt issued by US companies in order to fund the vast spending programme.

Mr Abe, speaking about a scheduled summit with Mr Trump next week, told lawmakers on Wednesday he intends to discuss "how Japan can create jobs" in the United States as well as broader economic cooperation with his country's key security ally.

That includes "how Japan can cooperate on infrastructure investment that the president has mentioned", Mr Abe said.

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However, GPIF President Norihiro Takahashi said: "There are no such facts such as what some media reported.

"The GPIF is making investments, including in infrastructure, from a long-term view chiefly for the interest of pensioners, and there will be no change in our principle. We won't make changes to our investment portfolio in response to government instruction."

Fund spokesman Shinichiro Mori reiterated Mr Takahashi's statement, telling AFP: "We do invest in infrastructure projects from a pure investment point of view, but we never, ever, make an investment decision as part of government economic measures." Japan's top government spokesman Yoshihide Suga, echoed the GPIF statement.

As for the widely reported economic cooperation package that Mr Abe is expected to present to Mr Trump, Mr Suga said nothing had been decided.

Japan, which has been the target of Trump's occasional Twitter broadsides pressuring US and foreign companies to boost jobs in the US, has taken care to show a willingness to cooperate with the new administration.

The US guarantees Japan's security and protects it with some 47,000 troops stationed in the country as well as under its so-called nuclear umbrella.

Mr Abe rushed to meet Mr Trump in the US shortly after the real-estate baron's November election victory, presenting him with an expensive golf club.

They will meet again on February 10 in Washington, while Japanese media, including the top-selling Yomiuri Shimbun, say the two will also play golf the next day in Palm Beach, Florida, where Trump has a residence.

Japanese analysts warn, however, that Mr Trump's criticisms against Japan could turn harsher after he targeted Toyota in one of his fiery tweets over a project to build a new factory in Mexico and this week accused Japan of currency devaluation.

AFP

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