Japan considering further cut in foreign aid, defense spending: report

TOKYO, May 22, 2006 (AFP) – The Japanese government is considering whether to continue slashing foreign aid and defense spending through fiscal 2011, a news report said Monday. The latest proposal would ensure that the current policy of cutting government spending would continue after Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi steps down in September, the Nihon Keizai Shimbun said, without citing sources.

Many within the government and ruling coalition are calling for more efficient use of public funds, including more spending on environmental programs, the newspaper said.

Japan’s foreign aid budget for fiscal 2006 totaled 759.7 billion yen (6.8 billion dollars), marking the seventh consecutive annual drop in spending.

The government is expected to work toward reducing aid outlays for the next fiscal year by three percent, the Nihon Keizai said.

Japan has come under pressure from the international community to increase its aid budget, especially as the country’s economy gains momentum.

Meanwhile, defense spending fell to 4.81 trillion yen for fiscal 2006 — the fourth straight decline. The government and the ruling coalition want to continue cutting defense expenditur