Staff writer

Japan and the United States will launch new joint projects to help ensure “human security” in developing Asian countries that have been mired in the deep economic crises, as part of the Common Agenda for partnership on global issues, government sources said Wednesday.

The agreement on the joint projects will be finalized at a meeting in Washington on May 3 between Prime Minister Keizo Obuchi and President Bill Clinton, the sources said.

The sources said that high-level government officials of the two countries will hold talks in Washington on Thursday to review progress made so far in various cooperative activities under the Common Agenda and also to discuss possible new joint projects.

Among the Japanese participants in the talks will be Koichi Haraguchi, a deputy foreign minister for economic affairs, and Toshimitsu Arai, a vice international trade and industry minister in charge of external affairs, the sources said.

The Japanese and U.S. officials are expected to discuss six candidate projects that would address challenges being posed by the Asian economic crisis to human security. The officials will hold the discussions in hopes of reaching a final agreement on some of the proposed projects at the Obuchi-Clinton meeting, the sources said.

Among the candidate projects is one to provide financial support for Japanese and U.S. nongovernmental organizations that are engaged in relief operations for Myanmar refugees in Thailand, the sources said.

Another would extend financial support for Japanese and U.S. NGOs that are assisting slum dwellers in the cities of developing Asian countries, and a third would provide scholarships to help poor children go to school, the sources said.

The U.S. has also proposed that Tokyo and Washington jointly support democratization efforts in postelection Indonesia through the provision of civil education and training of lawmaking staff, the sources said. Indonesia’s election is scheduled for June 7.

As for the remaining candidate projects, one would extend joint support for the International Law Enforcement Academy in Bangkok while the other would initiate cooperation between Japanese and U.S. medical personnel in emergency relief operations for disaster-stricken people.

The Common Agenda for Cooperation in Global Perspective was formally launched in July 1993 at a meeting between then-Prime Minister Kiichi Miyazawa and Clinton as part of the so-called framework economic talks. Under the Common Agenda, the two countries have conducted various cooperative activities in 18 areas, including health, population, the environment, narcotics trafficking, natural disasters, food supply, counterterrorism and democratization.

Obuchi announced in Hanoi in December a decision to establish a $5 million fund aimed at stepping up cooperation between Japan and its Asian neighbors to cope with various threats to human lives, such as terrorism, drug abuse and environmental destruction. Obuchi was in Vietnam’s capital for talks with leaders from the Association of Southeast Asian Nations.

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