Japan will provide 4.2 billion yen ($39 million) in grant aid through an international organization to 31 countries in Africa, Latin America and the Caribbean to help them build a cold-chain distribution network for COVID-19 vaccines, the Foreign Ministry said Tuesday.
The decision follows one made in March to provide 25 countries in Asia and the Pacific Islands region with 4.5 billion yen in aid for the same purpose.
The grant aid, to be delivered through the United Nations Children's Fund, will be used to secure cold-storage facilities, transport vehicles and other equipment necessary for the stable delivery of vaccines in those countries.
As Japan has not domestically produced any COVID-19 vaccines, the government is seeking to make a contribution internationally by supporting vaccine distribution networks and facilities in developing nations.
The six recipient countries of the aid in Latin America and the Caribbean are Guatemala, Haiti, Jamaica, Nicaragua, Paraguay and Venezuela. The 25 in Africa are Algeria, Angola, Cameroon, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Djibouti, Egypt, Eswatini, Ethiopia, Ghana, Guinea, Kenya, Liberia, Libya, Malawi, Mali, Mauritania, Mozambique, Nigeria, Senegal, Somalia, South Sudan, Tunisia, Uganda, Zambia and Zimbabwe.
"We would like to make use of Japan's strengths and speedily proceed with our support," Foreign Minister Toshimitsu Motegi said at a press conference.
Japan has also pledged $200 million to the COVAX facility, an international vaccine distribution platform set up to ensure equitable access to shots for developing countries.
The COVAX initiative aims to deliver 2 billion doses of coronavirus vaccines across the world by the end of 2021.