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Japan party criticizes government’s decision to suspend aid to UNRWA

Japanese political party Reiwa Shinsengumi representatives, from left: KUSHIBUCHI Mari, YAMAMOTO Taro,  and OISHI Akiko. (ANJ)
Japanese political party Reiwa Shinsengumi representatives, from left: KUSHIBUCHI Mari, YAMAMOTO Taro, and OISHI Akiko. (ANJ)
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10 Feb 2024 11:02:39 GMT9
10 Feb 2024 11:02:39 GMT9

Arab News Japan

TOKYO: Japanese political party Reiwa Shinsengumi announced on Friday that it has donated one million Japanese yen (nearly 7,000 US dollars) to the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees (UNRWA) and protested the Japanese government’s decision to suspend contributions to the UN agency.

Three parliamentary representatives attended the press conference announcing the donation: YAMAMOTO Taro, KUSHIBUCHI Mari, and OISHI Akiko.

On January 28, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs announced that it would temporarily suspend funding of approximately 5.2 billion yen ($35 million) to UNRWA.

Japanese political party Reiwa Shinsengumi representative, OISHI Akiko handing out the donation poster to UNRWA staffer. (Reiwa Shinsengum)

“In the catastrophic humanitarian situation in the Palestinian Gaza Strip, which has been invaded by Israel, this is the biggest obstruction to humanitarian aid organizations and is an outrageous act that threatens to starve many Gaza residents to death,” a statement by Reiwa Shinsengumi said.

The party pointed out that on the same day that the International Court of Justice (ICJ) issued an Order on Interim Measures against Israel to prevent acts of genocide in Gaza, Israel announced that UNRWA personnel were involved in attacks on Israel by Hamas. UNRWA immediately announced the start of an investigation into the allegations and the dismissal of the staff suspected of being involved. 

The United States and several Western countries suspended funding to UNRWA. Japan followed suit on Jan. 28. The suspended funds represent more than three-quarters of UNRWA’s budget. However, the governments of Belgium, Ireland, Luxembourg, Slovenia, Spain, and Norway said they would continue with their contributions to the UN agency.

“It can be said that Israel succeeded in distracting the world from the ICJ’s provisional measures order,” the statement said.

The UN Secretary-General told an emergency meeting of donor countries, including Japan and the United States, that “if things continue at this rate, there is a risk that UNRWA’s funding will run out by the end of February, and it will be forced to suspend its activities.”

Twenty-eight NGOs around the world that provide humanitarian aid have also expressed deep concern about the suspension of funding and have issued a joint statement calling for the suspension to be lifted and humanitarian assistance to be expanded. 

“Suspending funding is collective punishment for the Palestinian people, complicity in genocide, and goes against the essence of the ICJ’s decision, and should not be allowed to occur,” the Reiwa Shinsengumi statement said. “Reiwa Shinsengumi strongly protests the suspension of funding to UNRWA and calls on the Japanese government to provide even more funding.”

The party said it would donate to UNRWA and called on “like-minded people to show solidarity by donating to UNRWA.”

It concluded: “We stand in solidarity with those who are raising their voices to end the occupation policy in Palestine.”

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