UNITED NATIONS: Japan on Monday (Jul 17) pledged it will provide US$1 billion in aid for children and the youth around the world over the next two years as part of efforts to achieve the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).
"I am pleased to announce that the government of Japan commits to provide one billion dollars of assistance by 2018," Foreign Minister Fumio Kishida told a meeting at the United Nations.
Japan will "focus on policies targeting the next generation", Kishida said in a speech at a ministerial meeting on the SDGs held at the UN headquarters.
He explained that his country's assistance for children and the youth will be made particularly in the areas of education, health, disaster risk reduction and gender equality.
In civil-war torn Syria, for example, Japan will provide funds, in cooperation with international organisations, for rehabilitation of schools, capacity building for teachers and raising awareness on health and education for internally displaced people.
In addition, Kishida said Japan will promote a scheme of the Japan International Cooperation Agency for supporting companies that contribute to achieving the SDGs.
To raise awareness about the SDGs in Japan, Kishida explained that his ministry is working with major Japanese entertainment company Yoshimoto Kogyo Co and Japanese singer-comedian Pikotaro, known for his hit tune Pen-Pineapple-Apple-Pen or PPAP.
The SDGs were adopted at the 2015 UN General Assembly meeting as targets that all UN member countries should achieve by 2030 for eradicating poverty and disparities.
UN humanitarian aid agencies are facing a funding crisis as they struggle to cope with growing demands from world crises while the United States is threatening deep cuts to its financial support for the world body.
Foreign ministry spokesman Norio Murayama said the funding will combine multilateral and bilateral aid.
Kishida also held talks with UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres on Monday. In exchanging opinions on North Korea's nuclear and missile development programs, Kishida said it is important to increase pressure on the reclusive state at the moment and sought the cooperation of the United Nations on the matter.
The two agreed to continue to cooperate on the North Korean issue.
Kishida said to Guterres that North Korea now poses a new level of threat and that there is a need for the UN Security Council to swiftly adopt a new resolution to take severer measures against the country.
He also conveyed Japan's view that China's role will be the key.
When reporters asked for a comment on South Korea's recent proposal to hold military talks with North Korea, Kishida said the Japanese, US and South Korean leaders have confirmed that now is the time to put pressure on Pyongyang.
"Japan will remain committed to bilateral cooperation with South Korea and trilateral ties among the two countries plus the United States," Kishida added.