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British business backs PM's foreign aid pledge
by Staff Writers
London (AFP) March 11, 2013

Americans gave $713 mn to disaster-hit Japan: report
Tokyo (AFP) March 11, 2013 - Americans have given nearly three-quarters of a billion dollars in private donations to help tsunami-wracked communities, a report said, as Japan marked the second anniversary of the disaster Monday.

Individuals, companies and non-profit groups have donated $712.6 million to help crisis-stricken areas over the last 24 months, the Japan Center for International Exchange said in a report released last week.

The private sector total is the largest ever given to a developed country and the third biggest disaster donation after those for the 2004 Indian Ocean tsunami and the 2010 quake in Haiti, it said.

The largest donor was the American Red Cross, which gave $312 million, followed by Save the Children, USA, which raised $26.15 million, it said.

Japan is marking the second anniversary of the ferocious tsunami, which left nearly 19,000 people dead or missing, and sparked the worst nuclear accident in a generation.

Efforts to rebuild the disaster-hit region have been slow; figures show 315,196 people are still without a permanent home, many in cramped temporary housing units.

Chief executives of some of Britain's biggest companies -- including BP, Vodafone and GlaxoSmithKline -- on Monday joined the boss of English football's Premier League in stressing the need for Britain to maintain its overseas aid budget.

In a letter to Prime Minister David Cameron and published by the Financial Times, 27 bosses wrote that protecting the government's level of foreign aid spending was "not only the right thing to do" but was also a "smart investment."

With Britain at risk of a fresh recession, Cameron is under pressure from some members of his own Conservative party to reduce the coalition government's commitment to provide 0.7 percent of Britain's national income for international aid.

But company leaders, including also the boss of publisher Pearson and alcoholic drinks giant Diageo, have responded with an open letter, in which they said:

"We have written to David Cameron on Monday to applaud his decision to stick to the UKs commitment to overseas aid to the developing world, despite the tough economic times.

"As chief executives of leading British companies we believe that this is not only the right thing to do, but that it is a smart investment. It is both humanitarian and in the interests of the country for the prime minister to do this and the case for continuing, well-targeted aid is beyond doubt."

They added: "Aid has contributed to improving education, health, sanitation and other public services in many of the worlds poorest countries. This investment in human capital is fundamental for a functioning economy."


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