Conferees assess state of Afghan reconstruction

by Setsuko Kamiya

Officials from Afghanistan and 23 countries and international organizations kicked off a two-day conference Tuesday in Tokyo to assess the progress of a five-year reconstruction project in the war-torn state.

At the opening session of the Afghanistan Joint Coordination and Monitoring Board Political Directors’ Meeting, Foreign Minister Masahiko Komura said Japan will provide a fresh $110 million in aid to promote various activities, including improving literacy, enhancing boarder management, assisting refugees and removing land mines.

Japan has provided $1.25 billion in aid to Afghanistan since 2001.

Komura said Afghanistan faces grave challenges to its democratization process, pointing to a decline in public security, including suicide bomb attacks and kidnappings of foreign nationals, in addition to antigovernment movements in southern areas.

“The machinery of the Afghan government needs to be strengthened to fight these problems, and increased cooperation from the international community is required for this purpose,” Komura said.

He said he was also happy to report that two Maritime Self-Defense Force ships set sail in late January for the Indian Ocean to provide fuel and water to multinational naval forces participating in antiterror operations in and around Afghanistan.