• Short Summary

    In Laos, technicians from the Japanese Peace Corps are helping the Laotians to revitalise their ailing and war-damaged economy.

  • Description

    In Laos, technicians from the Japanese Peace Corps are helping the Laotians to revitalise their ailing and war-damaged economy. The Japanese aid comes in a variety of forms, ranging from airport modernisation and agricultural projects to development of cottage industries and medical services.

    Direct Japanese id to Laos averages about 3-million US dollars (1.16 million sterling) annually, a small figure compared with the massive aid the United States provides. But it is pointed out that the bulk of American aid is in the military field.

    This film shot by Visnews cameraman Kim Dong-kyu illustrates some of the forms Japanese aid now takes in this corner of Asia,, evidence to support Japanese claims that they are anxious to share their massive wealth with their fellow-Asians.

    The Japanese programme has apparently won the respect of all parties in the Laotian conflict - the Japanese once threatened to pull out when Pathet Lao Guerrillas attacked one of their projects. Since then, they have been allowed to work undisturbed.

    SYNOPSIS: This year, big international jet air-liners will be able to land in Laos for the first time. Wattay Airport serves Vientiane, the administrative capital of laos, and the runway extension there is being built with Japanese money and under the supervision of Japanese engineers. It's the second stage of a project to modernise the airport, and the Japanese Government has spent nearly two million United States dollars on it.

    At Tha-Ngone, a few miles (km) north of Vientiane, the Japanese have set up a special project in conjunction with the Asian Development Bank. Here earth movers are clearing trees and cutting the trenches for a modern irrigation system. Rice will be sown here, but instead of the single crop the laotians harvested in the past,m they will now get two crops a year. It's all part of Japan's policy of helping other Asian countries to share the prosperity enjoyed by millions of Japanese.

    The money the Japanese are spending in Laos is not spectacular - it averages about 3-million US dollars a year. It is small compared with the massive aid from the United States. But American aid is mainly in the military field - the Japanese are working exclusively in the sphere of peaceful development. East of Vientiane their advisers are showing Laotians how silkworms can be bred even during the dry season.

    In a mainly agricultural country like Laos, improved methods of framing offer the main hopes of making it more self-sufficient. But traditional crafts and cottage industries can play a useful part in earning foreign exchange.

    This is another filed in which Japanese Peace Corps workers have been advising the Laotians - teaching them ways to improve their techniques and marketing while building on traditional styles.

    One of the most popular Japanese projects is a medical dispensary to the north of Vientiane. Two doctors, two nurses and a laboratory technician, all from Japan, operate the clinic, which has been going for three years. Up to two hundred patients a day come to the clinic. All parties to the conflict in Laos appear to recognise the peaceful nature of the Japanese aid programme. There was one spot of trouble when Pathet Laos guerrillas attacked a Japanese project. Japan threatened to withdraw if its technicians were attacked again. Since then they've been allowed to work undisturbed.

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    Reuters - Source to be Verified
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