Japan Pledges $560M to Global Fund
Japan on Friday announced that it had pledged $560 million to the Global Fund To Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria, AFP/Google.com reports. Prime Minister Yasuo Fukuda said the funds will be allocated "in the coming years" from 2009, but he did not specify over how many years the aid will be disbursed. A foreign ministry official said that the pledge aims to "demonstrate Japan's diplomatic efforts to help Africa" as Japan prepares to host an internal conference on aid to the continent next week, as well as the Group of Eight industrialized nations summit in July. According to AFP/Google.com, Japan hopes to make Africa a primary focus while it chairs the G8.
"HIV/AIDS is poised to inflict an even heavier toll than even the plague in the Middle Ages, becoming the most damaging infectious disease in human history," Fukuda said. He added, "Amidst these tragedies, it is the African region that has been most seriously affected." World Bank representative Kazushige Taniguchi welcomed the new pledge but added that "increasing financial assistance alone cannot solve the problems in Africa." He said, "For example, there's a private aid foundation which touts its specialization in aid on AIDS, but in some developing countries, life-or-death resources such as clean water and food are needed much more." Japan earlier this week pledged to double its financial assistance to Africa by 2012 as part of efforts to reduce poverty and conflict, according to the foreign ministry official. The official added that Japan last made a pledge of $500 million to the Global Fund in 2005, and the funds were disbursed over three years through February 2008 (AFP/Google.com, 5/23).