Japan eyes tripling number of nationals working at U.N. food and agriculture body

Kyodo

The government plans to triple the number of Japanese working at the U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO)to signal its engagement in providing agricultural aid to developing countries, a government source has said.

The envisioned move comes as Tokyo aims to enhance its ties with Italy, host of the Group of Seven summit in May, and the FAO in a bid to gain support for reforming the U.N. Security Council where Japan aspires to become a permanent member, the source said Saturday.

Under the plan, the number of Japanese working at the FAO will be tripled over five years to over 90 from roughly 30 now. Japanese officials agreed with FAO officials in January to increase the proportion of Japanese personnel in accordance with its financial contribution to the U.N. organization, according to the source.

Currently Japan finances 10.8 percent of the FAO budget, whereas Japanese nationals account for around 3 percent of its personnel.

Prime Minister Shinzo Abe is planning to meet with Italian Prime Minister Paolo Gentiloni in Italy in late March and convey Japan’s plan to strengthen partnership with the FAO given that Rome has placed emphasis on food security.

To increase the number of Japanese at the FAO, the government will enhance support for people working in the private sector and students who wish to work at the U.N. organization, according to the source.

It will also hold a seminar on the FAO’s role and operations on the occasion of its Director-General Jose Graziano da Silva’s visit to Japan being arranged for May.

Food issues have been one of the main topics at recent Group of 7 summits. At the 2015 summit, the leaders’ statement mentioned the goal of lifting 500 million people in developing nations out of hunger and malnutrition by 2030.

The goal was reaffirmed at last May’s summit, which was held in Japan.

Through the stepped-up personnel contribution, Tokyo hopes to underscore its effort to tackle hunger and malnutrition plaguing many developing countries, according to the source.