国際機関援助 「倍加」を表明して削減とは

The Yomiuri Shimbun (Nov. 24, 2009)
Robbing Peter to pay Paul
国際機関援助 「倍加」を表明して削減とは(11月24日付・読売社説)

Though Prime Minister Yukio Hatoyama has promised the international community that Japan will boost its assistance to developing countries, the government has cut its support for international organizations that play key roles in aid projects. This is contradictory and unacceptable.

The amount of Japan's contributions to international organizations has been decreasing every year since the administration of former Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi moved to reduce official development assistance as part of its structural reform program that recognized no "sacred cows." The contributions have fallen by more than 40 percent from the peak year of fiscal 2001.

Against this background, Hatoyama, in a speech at the U.N. General Assembly in September, vowed to double Japan's efforts to assist developing countries, in close cooperation with international organizations, raising expectations among those organizations for an increase in the amount of Japan's contributions to them.

But the actual amount of contributions, measured in terms of budget requests for fiscal 2010, already has fallen below that of fiscal 2009. In addition, some of the contributions have become a target of the budget scrutiny aimed at cutting wasteful spending in ministries' fiscal 2010 budget requests that is being conducted by the Government Revitalization Unit.


Groups play role Japan can't

International organizations targeted in the government's panel's budget screening include the U.N. Development Program, the U.N. Human Settlements Program (UN-HABITAT) and the U.N. Volunteers--hardworking organizations that dispatch staff to Afghanistan and other countries.

The government has pledged up to 5 billion dollars (about 450 billion yen) in aid to Afghanistan for nonmilitary purposes over a five-year period beginning this year. The aid is intended to provide vocational training for former Taliban soldiers and promote agricultural development and other worthy goals.

But it will not be easy for Japanese people to work in Afghanistan under the aid programs unless the security situation there improves. Japan's aid programs, therefore, will probably be carried out in the form of providing funds to the UNDP and other international organizations and having them dispatch their staff and volunteers to Afghanistan.

The government likely intends to secure a budget for funds to have international bodies carry out Japan's aid programs, separately from its contributions. Considering the current situation, in which Japan has no choice but to rely on international bodies to execute its aid programs, it does not make sense to slash contributions to international organizations, which are mainly used to defray their operating costs.


Nation's reputation at stake

Japan has seen its reputation as a major contributor to international organizations dwindle. Some observers have linked the reduction in the amount of Japan's contributions to the dearth of Japanese executive staff in international organizations and their absence on such organizations' boards.

The budgets for international organizations, meanwhile, have ballooned. It is important for this country, as a contributor, to urge the organizations to keep a ceiling on their swelling budgets. Japan also should increase its efforts to increase the number of Japanese staff in international bodies.

It goes without saying that Japan must pursue these two goals as well as contribute funds to international organizations. But we fear that cutting such contributions willy-nilly could lower Japan's profile in the international community.

We do not want to see a situation in which the government attaches so much importance to budget screening to cut wasteful spending that Japan's diplomacy ends up being harmed.

(From The Yomiuri Shimbun, Nov. 24, 2009)
(2009年11月24日01時08分 読売新聞)

by kiyoshimat | 2009-11-24 06:34 | 英字新聞

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