Seventeen Asia-Pacific nations have endorsed a plan to reduce corruption in the region. The joint action came at the end of an international conference held in the Japanese capital.

The plan outlines a series of proposed anti-corruption actions that governments can take. Among them are fair recruitment for public sector jobs and honesty in government purchasing practices. The plan also promotes the public's right to have access to government information.

Rainer Geiger, a deputy director of the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development, says the plan underscores increased public awareness of the need to fight corruption.

"This is a very comprehensive program which has a number of rather specific recommendations in the area of institution building, in the area of corporate governance and business integrity and in the area of mobilizing support from civil society," said Mr. Geiger. "We believe that the conjunction of these three factors - governance, business and civil society - stand for the effectiveness of the action plan."

The adoption of the joint action plan came at the end of the third annual anti-corruption conference co-sponsored by the Asian Development Bank (ADB) and the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development.

More than 150 delegates took part, hailing from countries such as Malaysia, Nepal, Singapore and New Guinea.

The ADB says that corruption costs as much as 17 percent of some countries' gross domestic product. It also says that it mainly affects the poor, who are the most dependent on public services.

While the plan is non-binding, a steering committee will monitor each country's progress in implementing anti-corruption measures.