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Japan pledges $1 billion in aid to Africa

By P. S. Suryanarayana

SINGAPORE Sept. 29. Japan today said that it "aims to extend grant aid totalling $ 1 billion ..... to Africa'' over the next five years in respect of "areas such as health and medical care, including measures against AIDS, as well as education, water and food''.

Announcing this at the Third Tokyo International Conference on African Development (TICAD III), the Japanese Prime Minister, Junichiro Koizumi, said he shared the vision that "there will be no stability and prosperity in the world in the 21st century unless the problems of Africa are resolved''.

Delivering the keynote speech at the inauguration of the three-day TICAD III, Mr. Koizumi said a target of approximately $ 300 million investments by Japanese companies in Africa was being set for a five-year period. This would be accomplished through overseas investment loans and other measures.

In this context, the World Bank and other co-organisers would convene TICAD Asia-Africa Trade and Investment Conference next year. He announced that Japan would also "steadily implement cancellation of yen-loan Overseas Development Assistance (ODA-related) debt totalling $3 billion'' in respect of the heavily indebted poor countries (HIPCs) and other "eligible countries'' on that continent.

Pledging to "make the TICAD process more dynamic'' , the Japanese Prime Minister said, "it is truly regrettable that the recent World Trade Organisation ministerial conference, held in Cancun, Mexico, could not advance (the) Doha Development Agenda negotiations''.

The creation of "equitable rules'', he said, "is necessary for promoting trade and investment (needs) of (the) developing countries, including Africa''. The "three pillars'' of Japan's own initiative for assistance to Africa were "human-centred development, poverty reduction through economic growth and consolidation of peace''.

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