Michael Marray writes for the Asset today that Japanese Prime Minster Shinzo Abe’s change in tune on One Belt, One Road probably sounded more like criticism to Beijing than endorsement.

Speaking on June 5 Abe cautioned that “it is critical for infrastructure to be open to use by all, and to be developed through procurement that is transparent and fair. I furthermore consider it essential for projects to be economically viable and to be financed by debt that can be repaid, and not to harm the soundness of the debtor nation’s finances.”

Abe went on to praise the emphasis placed on infrastructure standards by Japan’s “High Quality Infrastructure Partnership” initiative.

Murray also noted the competition heating up between China and Japan to win infrastructure contracts:

“One project where the two countries are currently facing off is the planned 350 kilometre high-speed rail link between Kuala Lumpur and Singapore. China Railway Group (commonly known as CREC) is hoping to win the contract as a showcase international project for its bullet trains. The Japanese government has been lobbying hard in favour of Japan Rail, and last year Japan Rail even set up a Shinkansen simulator in a shopping mall in Kuala Lumpur as part of its publicity drive. South Korea is also in the frame with its KTX system operated by Korea Railroad Corporation (Korail).”