• Kyodo

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Prime Minister Taro Aso pledged Saturday to provide more than $17 billion to help Asian countries strengthen their growth potential during the global financial crisis in an address to the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland.

Aso also promised that Japan will set a medium-term emissions reduction target for around 2020 by June this year to tackle global warming, saying Japan will make more efforts toward reducing emissions.

“This year is the year when we decide on concrete actions,” Aso said at a special session of the weekend meeting in the Swiss resort town of Davos. “If all countries do not share the burden equitably in keeping with their differentiated responsibilities, the problem will never be solved.”

In the speech titled “My prescriptions for reviving the world economy,” Aso said it is “Japan’s foremost duty” to have the world’s second-largest economy restore its vitality in countering the global financial turmoil.

Aso presented ¥75 trillion in economic measures and said it is necessary to boost internal demand. He also called for steadily implementing the action plan agreed on at the financial summit in Washington in November to stabilize financial markets.

Aso also said Japan’s position is to “resolutely fight all protectionism” and expressed a will to act with other countries toward concluding the stalled Doha Round negotiations for the World Trade Organization.

To support Asian countries, Aso said the government is prepared to swiftly provide more than $17 billion, or ¥1.5 trillion, to the region by mobilizing official development assistance.

On climate change, Aso said Japan will help developing countries introduce advanced energy-saving and low-carbon technologies so they can convert themselves into “low-carbon societies” while maintaining high economic growth.

By announcing its will to set a specific midterm emissions reduction target, Japan aims to catch up with the European Union.

On issues in the Middle East, Aso said that “security measures and reconstruction assistance are like two sides of the same coin,” and declared that Japan will dispatch Self-Defense Forces personnel to waters off the coast of Somalia for an antipiracy mission.

On the sidelines of Davos, Aso met bilaterally with British Prime Minister Gordon Brown.

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