Oxfam critical of Japanese announcement on doubling aid to Africa
International agency Oxfam today criticized Japan’s announcement that it will double its aid to Africa as not providing one extra cent for the world’s poor.
Junichiro Koizumi, Japan’s prime minister, pledged today to double Tokyo’s aid to Africa to $1.6 billion over the next three years. But the Japanese finance ministry has not agreed to any new funding, so the money will come from cutting funding to other programs and regions.
“This announcement suggests that Japan will give substantially more money to poor countries,” said Oxfam’s Advocacy Director Bernice Romero. “But unless it is accompanied by a real increase in overall development aid, it simply diverts money from other regions to Africa and does not deliver a single dollar more.”
Japan is under considerable pressure to increase its aid budget in order to qualify for a permanent seat on the UN Security Council seat. Rival bidder Germany announced two weeks ago that it would meet the internationally agreed target of 0.7 percent of gross national income in overseas aid by 2014. Both need to secure the support of two thirds of the UN General Assembly, which will only be possible by gaining the support of the 50 African nations.
The 0.7 percent target of gross national income in overseas aid was agreed by developed countries in 1960, yet 35 years later Japan gives a tiny 0.19 percent, and its aid budget has declined each year for the past six years. It now stands at only $8.9 billion dollars. In 2004 alone it decreased by 5 percent. In contrast Japan spends $44 billion dollars annually on subsidizing its farmers.
“Germany laid down the gauntlet to rival candidate Japan to set a timetable to hit 0.7 percent in overseas aid, but Japan has so far failed to meet the challenge," said Bernice Romero.
World Bank president James Wolfensohn last week stated the widely recognized need for $50 billion in additional overseas aid each year. If Japan were to contribute its fair share of the $50 billion dollars, it would have to increase by $7.9 billion dollars; effectively doubling its aid.
For more information or an interview contact Caroline Green at Oxfam in Washington DC on 1 202 321 7858