Dispatch of Letters from Prime Minister Yasuo Fukuda on Rising Food Prices

April 21, 2008

  1. On April 18, 2008, Prime Minister Yasuo Fukuda dispatched letters addressed to United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon and World Bank Group President Robert Zoellick. In the letters, Prime Minister confirmed his belief, as Chair of the G8, that the issue of rising food prices, which is becoming a global challenge, must be a subject of discussions at the G8 Hokkaido Toyako Summit, and encouraged the United Nations and the World Bank for additional inputs in the run up to the Toyako Summit (outline of the letter attached).
  2. Copies of these letters have been sent to the other G8 heads of state, World Food Programme Executive Director Josette Sheeran, Food and Agriculture Organization Director-General Jacques Diouf, International Fund for Agricultural Development President Lennart Bage, International Monetary Fund Managing Director Dominique Strauss-Kahn, and Chairperson of the Commission of the African Union Alpha Oumar Konare.


      Outline of Letters from Prime Minister Yasuo Fukuda of Japan to United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon and World Bank Group President Robert Zoellick

  1. Soaring food prices are posing imminent and serious global challenges. Threat of hunger and malnutrition is increasing, and the high prices have also brought about social unrest.
  2. As the Chair of the G8, I firmly believe that this issue must be a subject of our in-depth discussions with a strong sense of urgency at the Hokkaido Toyako Summit in July. I intend to consult with my G8 colleagues, so that the G8 could collectively send a robust message.
  3. The importance of this issue has been already highlighted at the G8 Development Ministers Meeting, the G7 Finance Ministers Meeting, and World Bank-IMF Joint Development Committee. We have heard urgent messages from yourselves and Josette Sheeran, Executive Director of the World Food Programme. I have also received a letter from UK Prime Minister Gordon Brown on this issue.
  4. In this regard, I reiterate my appreciation for the work which has thus far been done by each of your organizations and would encourage additional inputs, which would enable the G8 to conduct deliberation on prescriptions to tackle the issue, in the run up to the Toyako Summit.
  5. The issue of food prices is a multi-faceted issue that requires a wide range of policy responses and considerations. In the short run, the result of the ongoing country-specific needs assessment, jointly undertaken by several agencies including the World Bank, WFP and FAO, should be shared as soon as possible. Means to address immediate needs, such as emergency assistance, social safety nets for the poorest, and balance of payment support by the IMF should be introduced without delay.  Also, export restrictions by food exporting countries should be avoided and stricter rules should be introduced.
  6. Deliberation on prescriptions for the longer term agenda should be accelerated, such as trade, bio-fuels, and improving food productivity in developing countries, taking into account their needs for adaptation to climate change. Many organizations are engaged in these issues, but these efforts should be consolidated in order to facilitate G8 responses at the Toyako Summit.
  7. Given the pressing nature of this issue, Japan intends to take advantage of already scheduled international fora such as the fourth Tokyo International Conference on African Development (TICAD IV) .