Japan has signed a USD 16.7 million agreement with the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) for the Independent Election Commission (IEC) of Afghanistan in support of free, fair and credible presidential elections and a more responsive democracy. The Ambassador of Japan, Hiroshi Takahashi and UNDP Country Director Alvaro Rodriguez exchanged notes in this context in the presence of IEC Chairman Yusuf Nuristani and Chief Electoral Officer Ziaul Haq Amarkhel in the capital city Kabul. According to an official press release, Japans Ambassador said: "These elections are central to the countrys political transition. Japan expects that this contribution will further the conduct of inclusive elections and will assist the IEC in its goal of fostering broader democratic participation and increasing public confidence." Presidential elections in Afghanistan are scheduled to be on April 5, 2014 and the international forces will leave the country in December 2014. The funding by Japan would help in printing of the ballot papers, indelible ink and polling station kits, ground transportation of the materials across the country and international freight cost for sourcing election items. Takahashi said that Japan had supported the electoral process in Afghanistan since 2004. On the occasion Rodriguez said, "This renewed partnership between Japan and Afghanistan reflects the firm commitment of the government of Afghanistan and the international community in enhancing democratic governance in Afghanistan." The chairman of the IEC of Afghanistan appreciated the recent support by Japan that follows its earlier contribution of USD 81.7 million to electoral assistance in Afghanistan during 2009 and 2010.