Japan FM meets UNRWA head in step towards resuming funding for agency

Japan's foreign minister has held talks with the head of the UN agency for Palestinian refugees as a step towards resuming the country's financial contribution to the organization.

Kamikawa Yoko met the commissioner-general of UNRWA, Philippe Lazzarini, in Tokyo on Thursday.

Japan suspended its funding to UNRWA in January following allegations that some of the agency's staff were involved in the deadly Hamas attacks on Israel last October. The United States and some European nations also put their funding on hold.

The Foreign Ministry said that Kamikawa asked Lazzarini to carry out effective structural reforms to ensure the transparency and traceability of UNRWA's fund flows as well as the neutrality of the agency's personnel.

Kamikawa said Japan's contribution to UNRWA is a valuable resource funded by taxpayers. She said it is important to strengthen the agency's governance to ensure that Japan's assistance is not used for terrorist activities.

Lazzarini outlined his agency's plan to reinforce its governance. He said UNRWA will establish a new framework with Japan on management and monitoring to ensure the transparency and traceability of projects. He added that this will involve the active participation of the agency's Japanese staff.

The Foreign Ministry said Kamikawa expressed appreciation for UNRWA's action plan and the two sides "confirmed that they will advance final coordination about necessary efforts to resume Japan's contribution."

Lazzarini told reporters after the talks that the meeting was "very constructive." He pledged to strengthen his agency's risk management.