Press Conference - Japanese grant assistance for Grass-Roots Human Security Projects in the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan

Mr. Taniguchi: Third, let me say that of late the Government of Japan has decided to extend assistance again toward the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan. The new grant assistance for the Grass-Roots Human Security Project amounts to up to 9.28 million yen, and will help support the vocational training project in a region called Chagcharan District of Ghor Province. Notes to this effect were exchanged already yesterday, 11 June, between the two governments.

Let me highlight that in Afghanistan a great number of NATO-led Provincial Reconstruction Teams (PRTs) are at work and that the one led by the Republic of Lithuania operating in the Chagcharan District proposed to the Kabul-based Japan Embassy that the PRT and Japan should work together for that project.

What I think is important is that the Ghor Province is among the least developed areas of the country where, equally, job opportunities are among the least abundant. The assistance will go first to a local Non-Governmental Organization (NGO) called the Sanayee Development Organization, which is named after the nation's outstanding poet Hazrat Hakeem Sanayee, and through that to hiring 10 instructors who will offer a nine-month vocational training course in the areas of clothing, embroidery, masonry, car repair, electric repair and motorcycle repair for 90 women and 65 men.

Another assistance project, amounting to 9.37 million yen, has almost an identical background. That one, grant assistance for Grass-Roots Human Security Projects, is also based on a proposal that first came to us from the Lithuanian PRT, and will go also to the same NGO. The organization, Sanayee Development Organization, will recruit 45 female teachers who will open classes of their own. They will then give literacy instruction for nine months to as many as 900 female participants.

I have introduced the two assistance projects in detail because I thought they pretty much symbolize the fact that Japan's Grass-Roots Human Security assistance is increasingly focused on empowering women, and that NATO-Japan collaborations in Afghanistan are now set in train, gaining steam, just as promised by Minister for Foreign Affairs Taro Aso and Prime Minister Shinzo Abe. They are both the kind of projects that Lithuania--an important partner for the creation of Arc of Freedom and Prosperity--and Japan can tackle together, and more broadly, Japan and NATO can work together for.