• Kyodo

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Japan pledged 9.17 billion yen Thursday to assist poverty reduction and the promotion of information technology in Asia.

Seiichiro Murakami, senior vice finance minister, announced the measure on the second day of the three-day annual meeting of the Asian Development Bank.

“Japan is prepared this year to make a further contribution amounting to 7.9 billion yen,” Murakami told the 59 members of the ADB board of governors attending the event, which began Wednesday.

Murakami also announced a 1.27 billion yen assistance package from Japan to finance IT promotion projects, including IT-related human resources development, to help developing Asian countries to keep up with the IT revolution.

The 7.9 billion yen will go to the ADB’s Japan Fund for Poverty Reduction, established in May.

The fund was established after former Finance Minister Kiichi Miyazawa pledged 10 billion yen from Japan to fight poverty when he attended last year’s ADB annual meeting in Chiang Mai, Thailand.

Some 3.3 billion yen has already been put to use in 10 projects, such as educating street children in Indonesia, Japanese officials said.

Japan decided to make the additional contribution because poverty remains a serious issue in the Asia-Pacific region, the officials said. The ADB has placed priority on reducing poverty in the region, home to two-thirds of the world’s poor.

On the IT aid, Murakami said the ADB must provide support in the area of information and communication technology to bridge the digital divide.

Murakami said such technology is essential for the world economy and the ADB needs to take steps to help the region fully exploit its information and communication technology potential.

He said Japan’s contribution is intended to help improve the IT environment and promote human resources in developing countries.

The ADB plans to set up an Information and Communications Technology Fund to utilize the Japanese contribution, the Japanese officials said.

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