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Speakers at a poverty and development symposium raised calls Oct. 17 for Japan to reorient its official development assistance to facilitate human development toward eradicating poverty.The Open Symposium on Poverty Eradication and Human Development, held at the United Nations University in Tokyo, featured a presentation on the Human Development Report. The report is the creation of keynote speaker Mahbub ul Haq, Pakistan’s former minister of finance and planning.Japan’s contribution to the United Nations Development Program was also highlighted. “Japan has an important role to play and has indeed played an important role in shaping the agenda for the promotion of sustainable human development and poverty eradication worldwide,” said Normand Lauzon, assistant administrator and director for the UNDP’S Bureau for Resources and External Affairs.Lauzon praised Japan for its development strategies for reducing poverty, promoting education and encouraging sustainable development, but said the economic powerhouse’s 14 percent decrease in ODA in real terms between 1992 and 1995 is the largest drop since the 1970s. Japan has been the largest contributor to the UNDP since 1996.Although there has been more progress made in eradicating poverty in the last 50 years than the last five centuries, there remains a large backlog of poverty, including more than a quarter of the developing world, said Sakiko Fukuda-Parr, the UNDP director of the Human Development Report Office.

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