Updated: 12/14/2013 08:58 | By Agence France-Presse

Japan pledges $20 bn aid and loans to ASEAN: PM Abe

Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe on Saturday pledged $20 billion of aid and loans to Southeast Asia, as he looks to drive exports and bolster friendships in the region.

Japan pledges $20 bn aid and loans to ASEAN: PM Abe

Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe (2nd L) raises a toast with Brunei's Sultan Hassanal Bolkiah (L) and members of the ASEAN on December 13, 2013

The announcement of the money, which will come over five years, came ahead of an expected joint statement in which Tokyo will be looking for support in its row with China over disputed islands.

"Together with ASEAN I want to build the future of Asia where laws, rather than power, rule and people who worked hard will be rewarded -- which would lead to prosperous society with mutual respects," he told summiteers in Tokyo.

Asia's two largest economies are locked in a fractious spat over the sovereignty of a small chain of islands in the East China Sea, and Japan is keen to garner support for its position against what it says is an increasingly aggressive Beijing.

The case has taken on a greater urgency since China's declaration last month of an Air Defence Identification Zone (ADIZ) over the East China Sea -- including the contested archipelago.

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