$2 billion East Asia eco-aid plan unveiled

Kyodo

Japan pledged Wednesday to provide $2 billion (about ¥217 billion) in foreign aid over the next five years for fighting environmental problems in East Asia, including water and air pollution, as part of an initiative unveiled by Prime Minister Yasuo Fukuda at a summit with Asia-Pacific leaders in Singapore.

In the initiative, Japan also proposed launching an “environment dialogue” between Japan and the 10-member Association of Southeast Asian Nations, under which Japan will support operations to protect biodiversity in ASEAN and promote eco-tourism in Asia.

Other areas of cooperation include supporting management of forest resources in East Asia by utilizing information gathered by Japanese satellites and setting up a cooperation network to protect coral reefs.

Japan plans to launch the Greenhouse Gases Observing Satellite, GOSAT, next year to monitor from space the density of carbon dioxide and will share the data with other nations as part of the initiative.

With an eye to promoting education on environmental issues, Japan will establish a network for exchanges among graduate schools in East Asia. Over the next four years, Japan will also invite more than 500 graduate students from around Asia who are majoring in environment-related fields to visit Japan.

Fukuda unveiled the initiative Wednesday afternoon at the East Asia Summit in Singapore, which leaders from ASEAN, Australia, China, India, South Korea and New Zealand also attended.