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Abe denies plan to use public pension fund for U.S. infrastructure

Prime Minister Shinzo Abe said Friday Japan does not plan to use
public pension fund money to invest in U.S. infrastructure
development as part of its cooperation with the administration of
U.S. President Donald Trump.

The opposition camp has voiced criticism over reports Abe plans
to use money from the Government Pension Investment Fund, the world's
largest pension fund, to finance the cooperation as part of a
wide-ranging policy package the prime minister is expected to present
to Trump at a meeting in Washington on Feb. 10.

Abe said during a Diet session that the reported plan is
"nothing the government is eyeing," adding he is not authorized to
order the GPIF to make such investment. The GPIF is independent from
the government and, in principle, is supposed to genuinely pursue
investment return in its fund management.

The use of the fund is "based on laws. It's for pension plan
beneficiaries' benefit," he said during a session of the House of
Representatives Budget Committee in response to comments from an
opposition party lawmaker.

Jun Azumi, acting president of the main opposition Democratic
Party, criticized the reported fund use plan at a press conference
Friday, saying, "No way to the use of Japanese citizens' money for
U.S. President Trump."

During the lower house committee session, GPIF President
Norihiro Takahashi said, "Theoretically, (the money) may go to U.S.
infrastructure investment" because it has a quota to invest in
advanced economies such as the United States and Europe, including
their infrastructure.

The pension fund is allowed to allocate 5 percent, or around 7
trillion yen ($61.9 billion), of its total fund of more than 130
trillion yen for investment in the advanced economies. But it had
invested only 81.4 billion yen in the field as of last March,
according to Takahashi.

The pension fund chief did not rule out the possibility that the
fund would expand its U.S. infrastructure investment on its own
judgment.

A GPIF official said it could be a possible choice "if the
investment return would be high" as the Trump administration has
pledged to boost large-scale infrastructure investments. (Feb. 3)