2014 foreign aid to be cut 1.3% to ¥550.2 billion

Kyodo

The government said Tuesday it will reduce overall foreign aid to ¥550.2 billion in the general account budget for fiscal 2014, down by 1.3 percent, or ¥7.1 billion, from the amount initially allocated for the current fiscal year — the 15th straight year of decline.

However, grants-in-aid and technical cooperation through the nation’s primary driver of foreign aid — the Japan International Cooperation Agency — will increase by 1.9 percent, or ¥5.8 billion, to ¥316.9 billion, by shifting the focus of the country’s official development assistance to bilateral from multilateral aid.

The Foreign Ministry will use the bulk of the money budgeted for development programs, amounting to ¥423 billion, up 0.4 percent, or ¥1.8 billion. Of the sum, ¥23.2 billion will go toward anti-terrorism and peace-building in the Mideast and North Africa.

The budget for aid to developing countries and emerging economies, through which Tokyo hopes to invigorate the economy, includes ¥31.8 billion for infrastructure exports from Japan, and ¥32.5 billion for promoting the use of eco-friendly technology in such countries.

The budget for the year from April 1 also emphasizes aid to Myanmar, which is making democratic reforms, and, following the fifth Tokyo International Conference on African Development in Yokohama in June, Africa. It allocates ¥7.9 billion for Myanmar’s economic development and ¥37.1 billion for development in Africa.

As part of Japan’s drive to promote human security, ¥17.1 billion has been budgeted for advancing “universal health coverage” in developing countries, with the aim of ensuring all people have access to basic medical services without financial hardship.

In response to the hostage massacre in Algeria last January, in which 10 Japanese workers were killed along with other foreigners, the Foreign Ministry’s budget includes ¥1 billion for boosting security around Japanese diplomatic missions abroad and for intelligence-gathering.

Also allocated is money for establishing embassies in Armenia, Namibia and the Marshall Islands.