Japan may ramp up Ebola aid, Abe tells ASEM

JIJI, Kyodo

Prime Minister Shinzo Abe on Thursday told foreign leaders that Japan is helping to control the growing global Ebola outbreak.

Speaking in Milan, Italy, he called on the international community not to scale back assistance to nations struggling with Ebola epidemics and added that Japan may throw more cash at the problem.

He said Japan had pledged $40 million (¥4.3 billion) for West Africa at the U.N. General Assembly in September and is considering sending medical staff to the region.

It is also considering providing an anti-influenza drug from a Japanese firm as a possible treatment for the deadly hemorrhagic virus.

Abe made the remarks in a debate on global issues at a two-day summit of the Asia-Europe Meeting forum, better known as ASEM.

Ebola was a central theme at the summit, which biennially brings Asian and European leaders together. They were expected to declare the outbreak a global threat, the summit’s draft statement showed.

Meanwhile, Abe spoke of his administration’s efforts to promote female participation in society and the economy.

He pledged that Japan would take a lead in trying to empower women worldwide.

At a session on economic cooperation on Thursday, Abe underlined his resolve to pursue economic revitalization and fiscal reforms.

He spoke of his package of economic policies known collectively as Abenomics, saying Japan has no other choice but to realize both economic revitalization and fiscal reconstruction.

Moreover, he said, Japan will contribute more to global economic growth by concluding a free-trade economic partnership agreement with the European Union.

He said it is important to strengthen links between the two regions to ensure economic growth in Asia and Europe.

Abe stressed that Japan will lead efforts in laying the groundwork for free trade and investment by not only achieving at an early date the Japan-EU free trade agreement but also by boosting its commitment to the ongoing Trans-Pacific Partnership negotiations.

The prime minister also said his administration will do more to revitalize regional economies in Japan with huge growth potential so that they can compete on a global scale.

Ahead of the speech before top Asian and European leaders, Abe attended a meeting of the Asia-Europe Business Forum and called for more investment in Japan. Tokyo is seeking to cut the effective corporate tax rate to levels below 30 percent over the coming years, he noted.