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Japan Approves $50M in Afghan Aid - 2002-01-18

The Japanese cabinet on Friday approved almost $50 million in emergency aid for Afghanistan. The money will come from reserve funds in the government's budget.

The Japanese government says that the money will be distributed through the United Nations and other international organizations. About $20 million is earmarked for clearing landmines throughout Afghanistan, where an estimated five to 10 million mines are buried after more than 20 years of war. The money also will be used to help refugees and displaced people within the country.

Government spokesman Yasuo Fukuda said the Japanese government plans to provide appropriate support for the stability and reconstruction of Afghanistan.

He also said Tokyo will grant $1 million in financial assistance to Afghanistan's interim administration.

The announcement Friday comes as Tokyo prepares for a two-day ministerial meeting on rebuilding Afghanistan. The gathering, which opens Monday, will include representatives of more than 50 countries and international organizations.

At that meeting, Japan is expected to pledge as much as $500,000 million in aid to be used over the next two-and-a-half years.