January 22, 2010 / 11:55 AM / 10 years ago

U.N. official says Japan's aid to Haiti too little

TOKYO (Reuters) - A senior United Nations official from Japan Friday accused his country’s government of providing too little aid to quake-stricken Haiti, given the size of its economy and its experience with disastrous earthquakes.

Japan has announced $5 million (3 million pound) dollars in aid and sent military and civilian medical teams to the site of the January 12 disaster, which may have killed up to 200,000 people as well as devastating the capital, Port-au-Prince.

“Japan’s aid to Haiti is not enough at the moment, considering it prides itself on being the world’s second largest economy and itself suffers major disasters,” United Nations Under Secretary-General Kiyotaka Akasaka told reporters in Tokyo Friday.

Japan is one of the world’s most earthquake-prone nations, accounting for about 20 percent of the world’s earthquakes of magnitude 6 or greater.

Akasaka, a former Japanese ambassador to the United Nations, added that a U.N. drive to raise $562 million for Haiti had so far gathered only 30 percent of the total, broadcaster NHK reported.

Japanese Foreign Minister Katsuya Okada said later he did not believe Japan had provided too little aid, but added that more help would likely be made available for reconstruction.

A vice foreign minister is set to attend an international conference on Haiti in Montreal on January 25, and the government is considering whether to announce additional aid measures there, Okada told reporters in Tokyo.

Japan was the world’s biggest aid donor in the mid-1990s, but its ailing economy and rapidly rising debt pushed it down to fifth place in 2008, according to the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development.

Editing by Alex Richardson

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