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Japan Urges Industrialized Nations to Give More Aid, Fight Global Warming

Japan is telling the world's most industrialized nations that urgent action is needed on global climate change and development assistance for impoverished nations. Senior officials from advanced industrial nations are gathering in northern Japan for what is seen as a preview of a major summit this July. VOA's Kurt Achin is monitoring the meeting from South Korea, which has also sent envoys to the meeting.

Development ministers from the world's richest nations are putting their heads together on some of the global economy's most urgent issues.

Japan is hosting the meeting of delegates from the so-called G8, or group of eight industrialized nations. They include Britain, Italy, Canada, the United States, France, Russia, Germany and host, Japan. Delegates from major emerging industrial powerhouses, such as China, India, Brazil and South Korea are also attending.

The talks are seen as a prelude to a summit conference scheduled for July. Japan's Prime Minister Yasuo Fukuda attended Saturday's session, and called for immediate steps on global climate change.

Mr. Fukuda says everyone, not just government and industry, needs to participate in the fight against global warming.

The Japanese prime minister said a major "overhaul" of modern lifestyles is the only way to reduce gas emissions from the consumption of carbon-based fuels.

Besides global warming, envoys are focusing on issues of urgently needed aid and investment for the world's poorest nations, particularly in sub-Saharan Africa. Advocacy groups say richer nations have failed to uphold promises of aid to Africa, and that the continent is suffering from a severe shortage of basic infrastructure.

The Paris-based Organization of Economic Cooperation and Development says Japan, until recently the world's top donor of international aid, slipped last year to fifth place. Overall, the OECD says foreign aid from the 22 major donor countries it measures dropped more than eight percent in 2007, to about $103 billion.

Japanese officials say they will lead the way in introducing more robust and transparent aid policies. The G8 meeting wraps up Sunday. Heads of government from G8 nations will gather in northern Japan in July.