• Kyodo

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Japan faced a wave of calls Wednesday to contribute to a U.N. global fund to fight HIV, AIDS, tuberculosis and malaria at a meeting here to support the fund, Japanese government officials said.

Deputy Foreign Minister Ichiro Fujisaki, who attended the meeting of the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria, told the conference that Japan cannot say now how much it can contribute.

An increasing number of developing countries and nongovernmental organizations fighting the deadly infectious diseases are asking Japan to make a substantial contribution to the fund, after receiving pledges from the United States and European countries.

U.S. President George W. Bush has pledged $15 billion over five years to fight the AIDS pandemic, including $1 billion next year for the U.N. global fund.

The U.S. has made the pledge on condition that other donors match its contributions.

French President Jacques Chirac pledged 450 million euros (about $500 million) over three years, tripling the nation’s contribution to the global fund from 50 million to 150 million euros a year.

Germany pledged 300 million euros over five years, up by 100 million euros from the previous donation, the officials said.

Etsuko Kawada, an independent member of the House of Representatives who attended the meeting, said at a news conference: “Japan is being urged by the global community to contribute on this issue. It is important to make strong efforts in fighting such infectious diseases.”

Kawada’s son, Ryuhei, is a hemophiliac with HIV and a former plaintiff in an HIV-related damages suit against the Japanese government and drug firms that imported tainted blood products.

Some 6 million deaths every year result from AIDS, TB or malaria, while at least 348 million people suffer from the diseases, mainly in developing countries.