• Kyodo

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Japan will make education, health care and disaster prevention its main areas of focus as it aims to contribute to meeting the U.N.’s sustainable development goals, Foreign Minister Taro Kono said Monday.

With Japan assuming the Group of 20 presidency next year and hosting an international conference on African development, Tokyo is committed to supporting nation building and the development of human resources, Kono told a high-level meeting on the sidelines of the U.N. General Assembly.

The United Nations has set out 17 sustainable development goals to be attained by 2030 that the international organization hopes will address “the global challenges we face, including those related to poverty, inequality, climate, environmental degradation, prosperity, and peace and justice.”

“We need to explore innovative funding sources, including the international solidarity tax” to meet the goals, Kono told reporters after the meeting. The idea of the international solidarity tax is to collect funds through air tickets and other means to finance work toward development goals.

During the meeting, participants discussed how to bring about development in ways other than providing official assistance, according to the Japanese Foreign Ministry.

At a separate U.N. meeting Monday on the Rohingya refugee crisis, Kono stressed the need for international support for the Myanmar government so it can accelerate the repatriation of Rohingya Muslims who have fled to Bangladesh to escape a military crackdown.

Kono said the international community needs to extend assistance, including financial support, to Bangladesh following its acceptance of the refugees, Japan’s Foreign Ministry said.

“Myanmar’s democratization process has just begun so we need to prevent a reversal of it, and international support is needed,” Kono told reporters after the high-level meeting.

“We hope that a transparent and credible probe will be conducted and reported” by Myanmar’s independent commission, Kono said.

During the same meeting, U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley pledged $185 million worth of food, water, health care and other critical aid.

Since August last year when the latest round of violence broke out, more than 720,000 Rohingya have fled from Myanmar’s Rakhine State to Bangladesh, seeking to escape a harsh crackdown launched by the Myanmar military.

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