TOKYO (Kyodo) - Japan will contribute about 370 million yen ($F8.38 million) for an insurance program to be set up with the World Bank to help Pacific island countries deal with the risk of natural disasters, government officials said this week.
Prime Minister Yoshihiko Noda is planning to announce the launch of the new insurance scheme when Japan hosts a two-day summit of Pacific island countries from May 25 in Okinawa Prefecture, according to the officials.
The scope of the new program will be similar to the World Bank's Caribbean Catastrophe Risk Insurance Facility, the first multicountry risk pool of its kind introduced in 2007, which stands ready to provide necessary short-term liquidity to governments in the region in the event of powerful earthquakes or hurricanes.
Many small island countries are financially weak and lack capacity to fund initial response measures in the event of a major disaster.
Japan began hosting Pacific island summits in 1997 and has held one every three years since. The forum groups Australia, the Cook Islands, Fiji, Kiribati, the Marshall Islands, Micronesia, Nauru, New Zealand, Niue, Palau, Papua New Guinea, Samoa, the Solomon Islands, Tonga, Tuvalu and Vanuatu. From this year, the US is planning to take part in the framework.
The new insurance program is likely to come into effect by around November, the officials said, adding five countries including the Solomon Islands and Tonga had already expressed their intention to be part of the scheme.
The insurance program will be operated by the World Bank, with a certain amount of premiums also possibly coming from all small Pacific island countries in the future.