Japan triples Philippines aid package to over $30 million
TOKYO - Japan said Friday it was tripling its emergency aid package for the typhoon-ravaged Philippines to more than $30 million, as Tokyo prepares to send as many as 1,000 troops to help with relief efforts.
The foreign ministry said it would now give $30 million in emergency grant aid to the disaster-struck nation, up from a previous $10 million. Another $2 million worth of emergency relief goods and assistance is being delivered through Japanese non-governmental organisations.
Tokyo said the total package would reach about $52 million including a $20 million contribution to its poverty reduction fund at the Manila-based Asian Development Bank.
The major contribution to the Philippines from Asia's second-biggest economy has drawn comparisons to the relatively little coming from China, which is now the region's largest economy and which is embroiled in territorial disputes with Manila.
China said Thursday it would provide a further $1.6 million aid to the Philippines, mainly in tents and blankets, after widespread criticism of its initial modest response of a $100,000 government donation, matched by the Chinese Red Cross.
On Wednesday, Japan said it was readying to send as many as 1,000 members of its Self-Defense Forces (SDF) to the Philippines in what is believed to be the largest single relief operation team ever sent abroad by Japan's de facto military.
It is expected to be the first time that Japanese troops are active in Leyte—which was pummelled by super typhoon Yolanda (Haiyan)—since the island turned into one of the biggest battlegrounds of World War II, when US forces counter-invaded in 1944.
Previous overseas missions by the SDF, which adheres to the country's post-war pacifist constitution, have usually numbered in the hundreds.
On Tuesday, Japan dispatched 50 SDF members to assist in medical support and transport operations, and Tokyo says the final deployment will depend on what the Philippines says it needs.
The defense forces have helped in previous regional relief efforts including the 2004 Indian Ocean tsunami. —Agence France-Presse
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