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Japan Pledges $5 Billion in New Afghan Aid

nytimes

By MARK McDONALD
Published: November 10, 2009

HONG KONG — Japan said Tuesday that it would sharply increase its nonmilitary aid to Afghanistan, pledging $5 billion for a range of projects that include building schools and highways, training police officers, clearing land mines and rehabilitating former Taliban fighters.

The announcement of the new aid package, which is to be disbursed over the next five years, comes just days before the arrival of President Obama in Japan. He is scheduled to arrive Friday in Tokyo.

During meetings with senior Japanese diplomats in Tokyo last month, Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates urged Japan to “implement strong assistance toward Afghanistan and Pakistan that matches Japan’s international status,” according to the Japanese Foreign Ministry.

At the time, Katsuya Okada, the foreign minister, said Japan was considering a new aid package for Afghanistan.

The ministry’s statement on Tuesday said that the “containment of insurgencies is essential” to achieving security in Afghanistan and pledged that “Japan will pave the way for the Afghans to take their own security responsibilities by such assistance as supporting the National Police.”

Since hosting the first international development conference on Afghanistan in January 2002, Japan has provided $1.78 billion in civilian assistance to Afghanistan, according to official documents.

About half of the Japanese aid has gone toward reconstruction and infrastructure, and the projects have included the construction of the international airport terminal in Kabul and the preservation of ruins in Bamian, where the Taliban destroyed two ancient Buddha statues in 2001.

ARTICLE CAN BE FOUND HERE.

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