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Japan eyes use of public pension fund to invest in U.S. infrastructure

Japan plans to use the country's public pension fund to invest
in U.S. infrastructure development as part of its cooperation with
the administration of new U.S. President Donald Trump, a Japanese
government source said Thursday.

The infrastructure investment drive forms part of a wide-ranging
policy package that Prime Minister Shinzo Abe is expected to present
to Trump in a meeting in Washington on Feb. 10.

It is hoped the package will lead to the creation of several
hundreds of thousands of jobs in the United States, in such projects
as the development of artificial intelligence and robotics
technologies, according to people familiar with the matter.

Trump has pinpointed infrastructure as an issue of concern,
signing an executive order on Jan. 24 to fast-track the approval
process for high-priority infrastructure projects.

A diplomatic source said Wednesday the governments of both
countries are planning to form a ministerial-level dialogue framework
to coordinate policy across a range of fields, from economy and trade
to security.

The Government Pension Investment Fund, the world's largest
pension fund, has been diversifying its asset portfolio since 2014 as
part of the Abe administration's economic policy reforms.

"The GPIF makes decisions on a regular basis to bring benefits
to those enrolled in it," Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga told
a press conference.

GPIF President Norihiro Takahashi said in a statement on
Thursday the fund "does not alter the way it operates based on
instructions from the government."

The pension fund, which had control of around 135 trillion yen
($1.19 trillion) as of the end of March last year, appears to have
significant leeway to invest in U.S. infrastructure without altering
its investment principles.

The fund has invested 800 billion yen in overseas infrastructure
as of March last year, even though its investment principals allow it
to invest up to 5 percent of the total fund -- around 7 trillion yen
-- in the category. (Feb. 2)