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Japan raises aid to $500 million

Decision follows U.S. pledge increase to $350 million

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• Special report: After the tsunami

TOKYO, Japan (CNN) -- Japanese Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi has announced his nation would offer $500 million in grant aid for the tsunami-stricken regions of southern Asia.

Saturday's announcement makes Japan the single largest contributor in the relief efforts.

Japan had previously pledged $30 million.

The decision to increase Japan's aid comes one day after the United States increased its aid to the region from $35 million to $350 million, which at the time was the largest contribution by a nation.

The increase followed criticism that the initial amount was far from enough. (Full story)

More than $2 billion has now been pledged by the international community.

Aid has begun to reach tsunami victims in remote areas of Indonesia as a United Nations official says the death toll could grow from 138,000 to 150,000. (Full story)

U.S. military helicopters Saturday dropped relief supplies into parts of Indonesia's hard-hit Aceh province virtually cut off from the rest of the world for nearly a week after a powerful earthquake and subsequent tsunamis claimed 80,000 lives in Indonesia.

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