Japan will assist Africa by implementing the action program adopted at the second Tokyo International Conference on African Development (TICAD-II), Prime Minister Keizo Obuchi told U.N. Secretary General Kofi Annan Wednesday, according to Foreign Ministry officials.Obuchi told Annan, a participant in the three-day meeting that concluded the same day, that his understanding of Africa’s problems has been renewed through separate meetings with visiting African leaders. “I hope that implementation of the action program will become a model for future development,” Obuchi was quoted as saying.Annan agreed it is very important to bring about change in the African people’s lives by implementing what has been decided in the conference, the ministry officials said. “Developing Africa is a process that takes time. … The U.N. will continue to support them and try to realize changes,” Annan reportedly said.Obuchi and Annan also agreed efforts to reform the U.N. should start as early as possible. One item in which Japan is especially interested is a plan to expand the permanent membership roster of the U.N. Security Council.Emphasizing the amount of money Japan gives the U.N., Obuchi called on Annan to accelerate debate on U.N. reforms and asked him to help Japan boost its ranks in the international body, according to ministry officials.Annan was quoted as responding, “The U.N. has achieved many reforms, but there are still many changes that have to be realized.”

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