The Japanese government on Wednesday said it will contribute P455 million to the World Food Programme in the Philippines to purchase rice for residents affected by recent hostilities in Mindanao. The food aid was announced during a signing ceremony of a grant agreement between the Japan International Cooperation Agency and the UN World Food Programme on Wednesday. The JICA Grant Agreement formalizes the support of Japan to conflicted-affected populations in Mindanao whose needs have increased following the upsurge in conflict in August 2008. WFP Country Director Stephen Anderson said the contribution is the third from Japan to the WFP in the Philippines. "The World Food Programme is extremely grateful to the government of Japan for its generosity. This donation will play a critical role in complementing longer-term initiatives in Mindanao by providing immediate and direct food assistance to conflict-affected households, thus building their stake in the peace process," he said in a statement.