• Kyodo


Japan announced a plan Sunday to contribute $100 million to the Asian Development Bank to set up two new funds to fight global warming and facilitate the investment climate in the Asia-Pacific region.

Finance Minister Koji Omi, who chairs the two-day annual ADB meeting, which opened earlier in the day, unveiled the plan in his keynote speech.

“Japan will establish two funds in cooperation with the ADB . . . I expect this initiative will help ensure sustainable economic development in the region,” Omi said.

The proposed funds are the Asian Clean Energy Fund and the Investment Climate Facilitation Fund. They will be installed as part of efforts aimed at solving challenges under Japan’s initiative called Enhanced Sustainable Development for Asia.

Omi also announced that Tokyo will extend yen loans worth up to $2 billion over the next five years through the Japan Bank for International Cooperation in the area of investment promotion and climate change under joint programs with the ADB.

Japan is keen to boost its presence in the international community as a leading nation to promote environment conservation and energy saving, ahead of its hosting of a Group of Eight summit in 2008.

The host city of the 40th ADB meeting is regarded as appropriate place for Japan to make a commitment to environmental protection because this is also where the 1997 Kyoto Protocol, aimed at curbing greenhouse gas emissions, was agreed upon 10 years ago.

Omi reiterated his call for a new pact aimed at curbing greenhouse gas emissions after 2013, stressing the need for the United States, China and India to join it.

“More efficient use of energy and the reduction of carbon dioxide emissions in Asia are necessary for achieving sustainable growth not only in the region but also in the world,” he said.

The 1997 Kyoto Protocol requires developed countries, including Japan, to cut their greenhouse gas emissions from 1990 levels by an average of 5.2 percent by 2012.

Omi also urged the ADB to play a greater role in helping Asian economies to overcome problems such as poor infrastructure, poverty and climate change.

“The economy in the Asia-Pacific region has continued rapid growth in recent years. However, there are still about 600 million people living in poverty in the region and the reduction of poverty remains as an important issue,” he said.

In this opening remarks, ADB President Haruhiko Kuroda stressed the need to realize “prosperity with inclusiveness,” noting increased inequality across the region.

“To achieve prosperity that benefits all, we must use our natural resources wisely so that the poor do not bear the brunt of the environmental impacts of growth,” he said.

More than 3,000 people from both the public and private sectors participated in the annual event, where environmental issues and ways to further eradicate poverty in the region are among the key points of the agenda.

It is the first ADB annual meeting in Japan since the city of Fukuoka, western Japan, hosted the event in 1997.

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