JAPAN PLEDGES CONTINUED AID TO SOLOMON ISLANDS

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HONIARA, Solomon Islands (Solomon Star, Dec.11) - The Japanese Charge’d’ Affaires to Solomon Islands, Koichi Kodama, has pledged Japan’s commitment to continue assisting Solomon Islands development efforts.

Mr. Kodama was speaking at a function in Honiara on Thursday to mark the birthday of the Japanese Emperor, His Majesty Emperor, Akihito.

He said 2006, like any other year, had been both challenging and fruitful as the people of Solomon Islands had experienced various difficult situations and also witnessed improvements in "development and prosperity."

The diplomat said Japan would continue assisting Solomon Islands development initiatives under its bilateral assistance as well as through multilateral institutions.

"In this respect, Japan with donor partners such as the World Bank have provided over SB$3 million [US$430,500] for the mobilization of resources to design the project Agriculture and Rural Development Strategy.

"In conjunction with UNICEF (United Nations International Children’s Emergency Fund) and WHO (World Health Organisation), Japan is also assisting the extended program for immunization with an estimated budget of over SB$43 million [US$6.1 million]," Kodama said.

He said these were examples of Japan working together with major international organizations to tackle global issues and to achieve the United Nations’ Millennium Development Goals.

"The road to prosperity and development is through perseverance and cooperation," Kodama said.

The Charge’d’ Affaires also highlighted Japan’s assistance to Solomon Islands through its Grant Aid Program, Grassroots Human Security Project and Technical Assistance program.

He said the reconstruction of the Tenaru and Ngalimbiu bridges on Guadalcanal and improvement of the Honiara Power Supply were funded by the Grant Aid Program whilst the Grant Assistance for Grassroots Human Security Project continued to fund schools and rural water supplies and sanitation.

On technical assistance, Kodama said the Japanese government through the Japanese International Cooperation Agency provided consultants, technical advisors and volunteers to Solomon Islands.

"At present we have 13 Japanese Overseas Cooperation Volunteers dispatched throughout Solomon Islands (to work) in areas including health and education," he said.

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