| GEO World|
| Japan earmarks 14 billion dollars aid for developing countries|
| Updated at: 2008 PST, Thursday, April 23, 2009|
TOKYO: Japan has earmarked 14 billion dollars in aid this fiscal year to help developing countries fight poverty, the global economic crisis and extremism, the government said Thursday.
The budget includes record spending for Africa and Asia and also raises spending for the Middle East and Afghanistan, the foreign ministry said.
Japan -- a pacifist nation which uses economic aid as a key foreign policy tool -- allocated 1,389.7 billion yen (14.22 billion dollars) for loans, grants and assistance for fiscal 2009, a foreign ministry official said.
That's up from its donation of 1,112.0 billion yen the previous year.
For the year to March 2010, Japan will especially focus on helping crisis-hit Asian economies and on supporting war-torn Afghanistan and Pakistan in their fight against Islamic extremism, the official said.
Japan earmarked a record 855.5 billion yen in official development assistance for Asia, which accounts for 61.6 percent of the total.
Prime Minister Taro Aso previously pledged up to two trillion yen of aid for Asia during a G20 summit in London.
Japan allocated a record 188.5 billion yen for Africa, 13.6 percent of the total, as it aims to fulfill a promise of doubling aid to Africa by 2012.
For the Middle East and Afghanistan, the country earmarked 148.0 billion yen, or 10.6 percent, while also focusing on Iraq, the Palestinian territories and oil-producing nations, in a bid to improve its energy security, the official said.
Aso at a Tokyo aid conference last Friday also promised to give one billion dollars in aid loans and grants over two years to help stabilise Pakistan, which shares a long and porous border with Afghanistan.
The foreign ministry unveiled the details of the foreign aid programme in advance for the first time, including spending targets for each region, to increase transparency, the official said.