The amount of foreign aid Japan disbursed in 2004 fell 0.2 percent from the previous year to $8.859 billion on a preliminary basis, keeping it in second place among the world’s 22 major foreign aid donors, the OECD’s Development Assistance Committee said Monday.

According to the annual list compiled by the the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development, Japan fell to 20th from 19th in terms of the ratio of official development assistance to gross national product.

Japan’s ratio in 2004 came to 0.19 percent, which is far short of the pace it needs to reach its goal of 0.7 percent by 2015. The figure accounted for 0.20 percent in 2003.

The ratio is a topic of concern in Japan, which is seeking a permanent seat on the U.N. Security Council. The United Nations calls on Japan and other foreign aid donors to boost the ratio to 0.7 percent by 2015 under the U.N. Millennium Development Goal adopted in 2000.

DAC’s latest list showed only five out of the 22 donors fulfilled the 0.7 percent goal: Denmark, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, Norway and Sweden.

For Japan, second place appears to be shaky, because its aid level is sliding while other major donors are making substantial increases, an official at the Foreign Ministry said.

Japan was closely followed by France, whose ODA stood at $8.475 billion, up 16.8 percent from the previous year.

The United States remained the world’s top foreign aid donor with $18.999 billion, up 16.4 percent.

Britain came in fourth with $7.836 billion, up 24.7 percent, followed by Germany with $7.497 billion, up 10.5 percent.

The aggregate amount of ODA disbursed by the 22 DAC members rose 13.7 percent to a record $78.568 billion in 2004. Japan and Belgium were the only countries that reduced disbursement, the list shows.

Sudan ODA resumed

Staff report Japan will provide $100 million in aid to Sudan to help with reconstruction costs, a Japanese official said Monday.

The money signals a resumption of Japan’s official development assistance to Sudan in the wake of a January peace pact signed by People’s Liberation Army rebels and the Sudanese government, the official said.

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