Japan is to provide grant aid of USD 5 million for the acceleration of Unexploded Ordnance (UXO) clearance programs in Laos.
Exchange Notes for an “Economic and Social Development Programme” were signed on Friday at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Vientiane Capital between Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs, Mr. Phoxay Khaykhamphithoune, and Ambassador of Japan to Laos, Mr. Kenichi Kobayashi.
At the ceremony, Ambassador Kobayashi said, “UXO clearance is a very important task. It frees people from the threat of UXO-related accidents and enables social and economic development through the use of land that is safe.”
He noted that Japan’s assistance supports Laos’ 9th National Socio-Economic Development Plan for 2021-2025.
“The government of Japan will continue to provide support in various fields including UXO clearance and work closely with Laos to further expand and develop the strategic partnership between our two countries,” he added.
Accelerating UXO clearance is also one of the priority areas for Japan in its strategic partnership with Laos. Japan has provided long-standing support for UXO clearance in Laos amounting to more than USD 66 million over 20 years.
In March this year, Japanese Prime Minister Kishida Fumio and Lao Prime Minister Phankham Viphavanh mutually confirmed that both countries would work closely to further expand and develop the partnership in accordance with the Action Plan for Advancement of Strategic Partnership between the Lao PDR and Japan, which includes accelerating UXO clearance through mutual cooperation.
UXOs are a barrier to economic and social development, contaminating land which could otherwise be used for agriculture, industry, tourism, and infrastructure.
The total area of land contaminated by UXO across Laos is unknown, although some estimates place it at nearly 87,000 square kilometers.