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Japan was the top aid donor for six consecutive years through 1996 despite a huge drop in its official development assistance, the Foreign Ministry said June 19.

Japan’s ODA was $9.44 billion in 1996, down by 34.9 percent from the previous year, marking the top position among the 21 Development Assistance Committee members, according to the ministry. The United States was the second largest aid donor in 1996 at $9.06 billion, up by 23 percent from a year earlier, the ministry said.

Japan’s ODA declined substantially in 1996 because of the tight fiscal situation at home and the depreciation of the yen. Its development aid is expected to decrease further as a 10 percent cut in ODA is targeted in fiscal 1998 to help restructure the nation’s fiscal deficit.

When ODA is compared with gross national product, Japan ranked 19th among the DAC members in 1996, down from 15th in the previous year, the ministry said. Japan’s ODA accounted for 0.2 percent of its GNP, while the average among the DAC members was 0.25, according to the ministry. Denmark was in the first place at 1.04 percent, followed by Norway at 0.85 percent.

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