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LINKS : Jubilee 2000
With the 21st Century waiting to happen, there was a gathering of the worlds non-governmental organizations, religious organizations, media, scholars, and ordinary people and a new citizen's movement was born. This movement, called "Jubilee 2000", is a campaign to commemorate the new century by canceling the debt of the world's poorest countries. Because signatures of more than 17 million people from 130 countries have been collected, including those of Bono, of the Irish rock band U2, and of the Dalai Lama., I have taken an interest in this movement as well.
I believe all of you know that the advanced countries, including Japan, are aiding the developing countries in a big way every year. But are those countries really being helped? The fact is, for every \10,000 yen [about $91] of aid from the advanced countries, the developing countries have to repay a debt of \130,000 [about $1,192]. In the poorest of these countries many children are dying by the hour. Even though their people are dying from malnutrition and disease, the money can't be used for medical care or education because of the debt payments. The better part of the debt is in fact loans to the succession of dictators that appear one after the other and are used to buy weapons or to enrich a certain segment of people. In spite of which, it is the innocent poor who are paying the interest.
It would be surprisingly easy, however, to cancel this debt which is causing such misery. If every Japanese were to do without just one bottle of beer out of his entire year's total, it could be done.
In recent years we have sensed the alarming pace of the deterioration of the environment. If human activity continues as is, then by the time our children and grandchildren are adults they will have to live out their lives in a world whose environment is worse than we can even imagine. There has been the frightening prediction that whereas the wars of the 20th century were over energy, the wars of the 21st century will be over water. The fact is, this problem of debt of developing nation is closely connected to the environmental problems on a global scale. Many of the poorest countries have rain forests, and the people of these countries, in order to pay for their daily food and the repayment of debt, are forced to destroy their precious forests in such a way that it won't be possible to sustain. Rainforests are the earth's lungs. Can we live without our lungs? Those lungs are being destroyed at a rapid pace.
In order to improve this situation "Jubilee 2000" is asking that the poorest countries be relieved of their "heavy load" so that they are not forced to cut down their trees and can use the money for such things as schools and for the building and management of hospitals. The United Nations estimates that if the poorest countries could put their repayment money into health and education, this would save the lives of 7 million children a year.
Shouldn't we label as criminal this present situation in which the advanced countries, by compelling repayment, are depriving the children of the poorest countries of their health and even of their lives?
Happily, the world leaders who have the power to write off these debts have finally begun to listen to the voices of those who have come together for "Jubilee 2000." In September of last year, President Clinton of the United States stated that the U.S. would write off all its loans to the poorest countries. The Prime Ministers of Great Britain, Italy and Canada promised to do the same.
Now it is time for Japan to exhibit some leadership. The July Summit on Okinawa should be a very important meeting for Japan's leaders. I implore them to by all means cancel the accumulated debt across the board and to have serious discussions at the Summit about saving the people of the poorest countries. I believe that canceling the debts will not only save the poorest countries, it will also save our own children in the future.
On the 11th of this month supporters of "Jubilee 2000" encircled the Finance Ministry with a "human chain" and asked the Ministry to take a lenient stance toward the poorest countries. Politicians in other countries have begun to notice that they can take up debt cancellation in their own campaigns. I am asking the Japanese leadership to quickly change their thinking as well.
Let us cancel the debt of the poorest countries, and make the next century an occasion for all the people of the earth to celebrate.
BONO(U2) : WindowsMedia,QuickTime
BONO(U2) <02> : WindowsMedia,QuickTime
N'Dour, Youssou : WindowsMedia,QuickTime
N'Dour, Youssou <in French> : WindowsMedia,QuickTime
Pavarotti, Luciano : WindowsMedia,QuickTime
Pavarotti, Luciano <in Italian> : WindowsMedia,QuickTime
Sastre, Ines : WindowsMedia,QuickTime
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