Japan will resume providing funding for a U.N. agency to support Palestinian refugees, Foreign Minister Yoko Kamikawa said Tuesday, after suspending it in January following allegations of agency staff involvement in last year's attack on Israel by the militant group Hamas.

A contribution of some $35 million that had been scheduled in fiscal 2023 ended March for the U.N Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East, known as UNRWA, will be delivered soon, Kamikawa told reporters in Tokyo.

Japanese Foreign Minister Yoko Kamikawa announces in Tokyo on April 2, 2024, that Japan will resume its funding for the U.N. Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East. (Kyodo)

"The humanitarian situation in the Palestinian territory of Gaza continues to worsen," Kamikawa said. "It is our country's responsibility to respond to the crisis as a member of the U.N. Security Council."

She added that UNRWA's involvement is "essential" for providing humanitarian support.

The resumption, backed by the ruling Liberal Democratic Party earlier in the day, comes after Japan in late January joined the United States and others in suspending funding for the U.N. agency, after it was reported that a dozen UNRWA employees may have been involved in a surprise attack by Hamas on southern Israel on Oct. 7.

The attack triggered the ongoing large-scale Israeli offensive in the Gaza Strip, displacing many Palestinians and causing severe shortages of food, water and energy.

So far, Canada, Australia, Sweden, Finland and Iceland have resumed providing contributions to UNRWA, while other major donors, including Japan's close ally the United States as well as Britain, continue to suspend their funding.

Japan and UNRWA will set up a group joined by Japanese employees of the agency from each of its on-site offices to monitor whether the nation's contribution is being used appropriately, a Foreign Ministry official said.

Of the $35 million, some $10 million will be spent on improving sanitary conditions and delivering essential goods for women and infants in the Gaza Strip, while the rest will be used to support Palestinian refugees in the West Bank, Jordan, Lebanon and Syria, the official said.

If any evidence of wrongdoing comes to light, Tokyo is ready to "take necessary steps," the official said.

Last week, UNRWA Commissioner General Philippe Lazzarini met Kamikawa in Tokyo and sought Japan's understanding over resuming the funding, vowing to implement measures to boost governance in the organization.

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