National

26 billion yen set aside for hospitals in Iraq

Japan plans to provide a maximum of 26 billion yen in grants to renovate and rebuild 13 hospitals in Iraq it helped construct in the 1980s.

One of these hospitals is located in the southeastern city of Samawah, where Ground Self-Defense Force troops have been dispatched to engage in noncombat duties, government sources said.

Political observers believe the government is hoping the move will help convince Iraqi people that Japanese efforts are aimed at providing humanitarian and reconstruction relief.

The 400-bed hospitals, built in 13 cities in the 1980s with 7.22 billion yen in Japanese overseas aid, have constituted major medical facilities in the region.

But these facilities sustained great damage during the 1991 Gulf War, as well as during the lengthy economic sanctions that followed and the U.S.-led invasion of Iraq in March.

The cities in question include Baghdad, the northern cities of Mosul and Kirkuk, and southern cities of Samawah and Nasiriyah.

The government plans to provide between 500 million yen and 2 billion yen per hospital to restore medical and electrical equipment such as independent power generators, as well as water supply and sewage systems.

In particular, the hospital in Samawah is expected to be prioritized and be handed a 1 billion yen grant.

“It is important to build friendly relations with the local people by improving their employment and welfare,” a senior Foreign Ministry official said.

Japan has announced that it will provide $1.5 billion in grants to Iraq by the end of this year.

The government has already decided that $120 million will be used to provide police cars and renovate elementary and junior high schools.