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Japan has provided some $221 billion in official development assistance to 185 nations since 1954, the Foreign Ministry said Friday in releasing its annual white paper on ODA.

The white paper covers the history of Japanese ODA, which marks its 50th anniversary this year, and how it has contributed to the development and welfare of developing countries.

The paper notes that Japan provided $8.9 billion in aid in 2003, down 4.3 percent from the previous year.

But the amount was the second-highest after the United States, which gave $15.8 billion.

“Japan’s ODA, which has been highly praised by its recipient nations, reinforces friendly relations with those nations and thus helps ensure Japan’s safety and prosperity,” the paper says.

Japan provided polio vaccines to 600 million children worldwide between 1993 and 2001, helping the world root out the disease in 2000, it said.

Japanese aid was also used to offer clean water and build sewerage for 40 million people in the world between 1996 and 2000.

Meanwhile, the government cut its aid to China to 96.7 billion yen in fiscal 2003, down some 55 percent from fiscal 2000, amid mounting criticism that China no longer needs foreign aid given its rapid economic growth, the paper says.

Japan began to offer ODA in 1954 while it paid compensation to four Asian nations in the wake of its defeat in World War II, it says. Tokyo also provided ODA to other parts of Asia as part of unofficial war compensation, the paper states.

From 1954 to the mid-1970s, Japan established a system to carry out ODA projects, including launching the Japan International Cooperation Agency, and gradually increased its amount in the 1980s.

In 1992, the government drafted the first ODA Charter to clarify Japan’s aid policy, the paper says.

New envoy appointed

The government on Friday appointed Shigekazu Sato, former minister at the Japanese Embassy in Jakarta, as director general of the Foreign Ministry’s Economic Cooperation Bureau.

Sato, 55, replaces Hajime Furuta, who resigned Sept. 24 to run in January’s gubernatorial election in Gifu.

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