Time for Japan to raise its game, says Oxfam
Japan has a chance to lead the rich G8 nations this year in finally delivering real benefits to poor African countries – provided it honours its own aid and climate promises at an important Japan-African Summit in Yokohama this week, says international agency Oxfam.
Fifty-two African nations will meet in Japan at the fourth Tokyo International Conference on African Development (TICAD IV) from May 28-30. Oxfam believes this meeting is a litmus test to this summer’s G8 Summit where African development sits high on the agenda. Japan aid fell by some 30% last year and it slumped from being the world’s third largest donor to fifth.
“What Prime Minister Fukuda decides this week will set the tone for this summer’s G8 Summit where we expect action on the promises to Africa – not more rhetoric or fancy accounting,” said Takumo Yamada, spokesperson of Oxfam Japan.
The Japanese government has also offered $10 billion over the next five years to help all developing countries to tackle climate change. It is unclear how much of that will actually be for Africa, as most of the funds are expected to be diverted and spent on India or China – two large developing nations where Japan also seeks to increase its influence.
“Pledges on climate change must be sufficient and predictable and come from new money, not taken from existing aid. Africa should not have to chose whether to put children back into schools or prepare itself for the impact of climate change. Africa mustn’t be made to pay for a problem that it’s least responsible for,” Yamada said.
Oxfam also called on Japan to lead international support for developing countries’ health plans and to start directly supporting them to train, recruit and pay for the 4.25 million health workers (1 million in Africa) that are desperately needed.
Oxfam is disappointed that civil society access to the meeting now appears to be severely restricted. Prime Minister Fukuda has stressed in the past that critical engagement from civil society is important. Japan’s announcement to cut NGO numbers could reduce the credibility and effectiveness of TICAD agreements and Oxfam calls on Japan to be more flexible.
Fore more information please contact:
Takumo Yamada, Advocacy Manager Oxfam Japan
Tel: +81 (0)80 3155 7017