What were the objectives of the International Conference on Reconstruction Assistance to Afghanistan held on 21 to 22 January in Tokyo? Furthermore, Japan is to spend the substantial sum of 500 million dollars over two and a half years, why is such a large amount of assistance being provided to a country such as Afghanistan, which seems to have only weak links with Japan?

In Afghanistan, more than 20 years of continuous war have devastated the land and people are suffering from poverty. Representatives of the Afghan people, under the initiative by Mr. Lakhdar Brahimi, the Special Representative of the United Nations Secretary General for Afghanistan, gathered in December 2001 and agreed to bring an end to the war and build a new government in harmony with the international community (known as the Bonn Agreement). In line with the Bonn Agreement, the Afghan Interim Authority was established on 22 December 2001. One of the issues facing the new regime is the reconstruction of Afghanistan. However, given that reconstruction is required across various spheres and that the scale of the reconstruction is extremely large, it would be very difficult for the Afghan people to achieve it only by themselves. The International Conference on Reconstruction Assistance to Afghanistan was therefore held to allow a number of different countries from around the world to come together to assert their intention for the international community to support the reconstruction essential for bringing about true stability to Afghanistan and to discuss specifically what assistance would be extend. Japan served as co-chair at the meetings on reconstruction assistance to Afghanistan held since autumn 2001, jointly with the United States of America, the European Union (EU) and the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, and it was decided at the Senior Officials Meeting on Reconstruction Assistance to Afghanistan in Washington in November 2001 to hold this most recent Conference in Japan.

The Conference attracted high-level attendees including cabinet ministers and representatives from 61 countries and 21 international organizations, and a cumulative total of more than 4.5 billion dollars of assistance was announced, including 1.8 billion dollars for 2002. The Chairman of the Afghanistan Interim Administration, H.E. Mr. Hamid Karzai, presented the outlook and policy regarding reconstruction and development. At the close of the meeting, the Co-chairs' Summary of Conclusions was issued, gathering the details of the meeting, including priority areas for reconstruction and mechanisms for ensuring efficient assistance.

Efforts toward stability in Afghanistan do not only represent assistance to the people in Afghanistan, but they also contribute to achieving peace and stability in the entire region that includes Afghanistan as well as the Middle East region and countries of Central Asia where there are deep links to Japan and, by extension, the rest of the world, and ultimately aim to eradicate and prevent terrorism. In view of the grave impact of the series of terrorist attacks occurred in the United States in September 2001 on the Japanese and world economies, these are also issues of Japan itself. As a responsible member of the international community, Japan hopes to continue to play a political and economic role for bringing stability to Afghanistan. As part of this role, Japan wishes to make an active and leading contribution to the efforts of the international community toward the reconstruction of Afghanistan, and we announced at the Conference that we are ready to provide up to 500 million dollars of assistance over two and a half years, including a maximum of 250 million dollars in the first year. We believe that this amount of assistance is commensurate with the role of Japan in the international community.

Back to Index