Malaysia and Japan have enjoyed close diplomatic, economic and cultural relations since Malaya gained independence from Britain in 1957. The ties between the two countries have been further reinforced through the ‘Look East’ policy introduced in the beginning of the 1980s by the former Malaysian Prime Minister Tun Dr. Mahathir bin Mohamad.
Japan, with $11.26 billion, was the world’s biggest provider of official development assistance in 1993. Most of the money is in yen-based government loans.
Malaysia is one of the biggest recipients of Japanese ODA in Asia. From January 1969 to March 2001, Malaysia received JPY827.4 billion (RM26.39 billion then) as bilateral loans. Divided per person, the amount would be equal to approximately RM1,165, which is the highest in Asia (Ruhanie 2001).
In 2003, the Japanese government decided to provide JPY82.40 billion (RM2.25 billion) as a bilateral loan for the Pahang-Selangor raw water transfer project.
It was reported earlier in August 1998 that Tokyo was ready to offer several billion yen in low interest loans in the year to March 1999.
The Malaysian Government has recently made an official request for Japanese loans as the country battles the Asian financial crisis.
Japan had made several loans of 10 billion yen to Malaysia each year through the 1980s.
Tokyo’s last loan to the country was in 1994, when Japan provided 61.5 billion yen (RM2.5 billion) in official development aid to help construct the KL International Airport.
Post 1998, Japan also loaned the following to Mahathir’s govt.
2002 – Pahang – Selangor Raw Water Transfer Project – 82 billion Yen (RM3.32 billion)
1999 – Kenyir Hydroelectric Power Plant Project – 17 billion yen (RM 690 million)
1999 – Port Dickson (Tuanku Jaafar) Power Station Rehabilitation Project- 53.7 billion yen (RM2.17 billion)
1999 – Higher Education Loan Fund Project (II) – 5.3 billion yen (RM210 million)
1999 – Sewerage Treatment Plant Project – 4.85 billion yen (RM 200 million).
Bear in mind that these are decades old figures. In today’s terms, it would have been much larger.