• Kyodo

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Finance Minister Masajuro Shiokawa pledged a of 7.08 billion yen to a fund set up within the Asian Development Bank to help eradicate poverty in the Asia-Pacific region.

The Japan Fund for Poverty Reduction was set up in 2000 with an initial disbursement from Tokyo of 10 billion yen, reinforced by an additional contribution of 7.9 billion yen in 2001.

On the second day of the ADB’s annual meeting, Shiokawa said Japan has so far contributed some $150 million to the fund to provide grants for such activities as educational campaigns on HIV/AIDS and nutrition improvement for the poor and socially vulnerable.

“I would like to announce that this year Japan will make a further contribution of approximately $50 million to the fund,” he said.

ADB President Tadao Chino, who sees poverty reduction as his bank’s “single, overarching goal,” reiterated Friday the importance of continuing the fight against poverty in the region, saying, “Because Asia is home to two-thirds of the world’s poor, the fight against global poverty must be won here in this region.”

In a radical policy shift, the ADB decided in 1999 to focus specifically on poverty reduction instead of trying to be a broader-based lending agency due to a rise in the number of the poor in the region in the wake of the 1997-1998 Asian economic crisis.

Some 900 million people in Asia are living in poverty, accounting for 75 percent of the world’s poor.

The ADB, founded in 1966, has 60 member economies as its shareholders, of which Japan and the United States are the largest with a 15.9 percent stake each.

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