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The rush began one night last October, when Myanmar's new president rolled out a map after dinner to show an aging Japanese power broker a prize that could be Tokyo's to develop - a swathe of land nearly as big as Macau.
Thein Sein, 67, a former general, had been president of Myanmar's civilian government for just six months. He had won cautious praise for reconciling with democracy icon Aung San Suu Kyi and opening Myanmar's economy after five decades of brutal junta rule. Now he was seeking investors to develop Asia's second-poorest country.
After a Chinese-style banquet at the presidential residence in the capital of Naypyitaw, Thein Sein turned to Hideo Watanabe, 78, a Japanese politician with an enduring interest in Myanmar. The new president offered a deal: Japan could develop a special economic zone at Thilawa, a spot near both Myanmar's largest city and a port on the Indian Ocean - if it came up with the money.
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