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First Official Visit to Japan by New World Bank President

Press Release No:2008/45/EAP

Contacts:

In Washington: Geetanjali Chopra (202) 473-0243

gchopra@worldbank.org

In Tokyo: Tomoko Hirai (81-3) 3597-6650

thirai@worldbank.org

 

Downloadable Photo
World Bank President Robert B. Zoellick(r.) meets with Japan's Foreign Minister Taro Aso(l.)
Photo: © World Bank
Tokyo, August 9, 2007 – World Bank President Robert B. Zoellick visited Japan for two days during which he met Prime Minister Abe, Foreign Minister Aso, Finance Minister Omi, Chief Cabinet Secretary Shiozaki, President of Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) Mrs. Ogata, Governor of Japan Bank for International Cooperation (JBIC) Mr. Shinozawa, other key policymakers and Diet Members, and opinion leaders. Japan was the final stop on his first official trip, which included Australia, where he attended the APEC Finance Ministers meeting, Cambodia , and Vietnam , where he met with government counterparts, beneficiaries of the World Bank’s operations, and World Bank staff in the field.

 

At one point, Japan was the largest borrower from the World Bank; today, it is the Bank’s second largest shareholder. Mr. Zoellick wanted to visit Tokyo promptly after his appointment to acknowledge Japan ’s significant contribution to global development, express appreciation for Japan ’s longstanding support for the World Bank, and learn more about Japanese priorities for development. Speaking today at a journalists’ roundtable in Tokyo, Mr. Zoellick said “Japan  plays a central role in the global economy and is a powerhouse in international development assistance.Japan has long been an engine of growth for Asia, and its development experience and expertisecan assistothers in the region and beyond. Japan’s contribution is widely recognized across the developing world, thanks to the importantwork of development agencies such as JICA and JBIC, which will merge into a single institution next year to become the world’s largest bilateral aid agency.

 

He also noted that 2008 promises to be a pivotal year in which the world’s spotlight will focus on Japan as it chairs the G8 and cohosts TICAD IV (Tokyo International Conference on African Development) with the World Bank and United Nations Development Programme (UNDP). Japan’s leadership will be needed to advance the global development agenda where issues such as climate change, sustainable development, and assistance to Africa will need to be integrated effectively. The World Bank wants to work closely with Japan to develop real solutions and outcomes in these priority areas.”  During his discussions in Japan, Mr. Zoellick discussed the critical need for the developed world to strengthen support for African development.

 

Mr. Zoellick also requested Japan ’s strong support for the International Development Association (IDA), the largest source of grants and concessionary lending to the world’s poorest countries. About half of IDA’s financial resources go to Africa, and significant amounts also go to poor people in East and South Asia. Mr. Zoellick said, “I have just come from Cambodia and Vietnam – two major beneficiaries of IDA funding – and seen first hand the enormous difference it can make in people’s lives. No other funding mechanism can do what IDA does, in terms of reaching the poor, integrating multiple donor programs, supporting country ownership, acting flexibly and quickly, and providing effective results.”

 

Mr. Zoellick said that despite the overall decline in Japan ’s official development assistance budget over the past six years, he hoped Japan would provide strong support to IDA. “No one can replace Japan in IDA. The major donors, including Japan, committed to significant increases of resources at the Gleneagles G8 Summit to meet these crucial development needs. I am confident that Japan will continue to play its important part.”

 

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