Amazon Plan Upsets Environmentalists : Japan Won't Finance Highway in Rain Forest

From Reuters

Japan will not fund construction of the final segment of a controversial highway through the Amazon rain forests in Brazil, Sen. Robert W. Kasten Jr. (R-Wis.) said today.

Kasten said he has received assurances from Japan's ambassador to the United States, Nobou Matsunaga, that Japan would not fund the highway, known as BR-364. Many environmentalists oppose the project because they fear it will harm the rain forest.

"The ambassador assured me the Japanese are not considering any proposal to fund this highway," Kasten said in a statement. He said he believed pressure from the United States had helped persuade Japan not to fund the road.

"I assured them that we will watch this project very closely because we intend to ensure that basic environmental safeguards are followed if an arrangement between the Brazilians and the Japanese develops," he said.

"This particular project has, over the past several years, failed almost every (environmental) safeguard conceivable," Kasten said.

Kasten is senior Republican on the foreign operations subcommittee, which has jurisdiction over U.S. funds to multilateral development banks. He said Japan, as a leading source of development funds, had a responsibility to make sure projects are environmentally safe.

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