Speeches by the Foreign Minister
Keynote Speech by Foreign Minister Fumio Kishida at the Open Symposium Commemorating the 60th Anniversary of Japan's ODA

"Development Cooperation in a New Era" -What Japan, a Contributor to Peace, Aims For-

November 17, 2014
Japanese

  • Photo1

I am Fumio Kishida, Minister for Foreign Affairs of Japan.

I thank you all for attending this symposium commemorating the 60th anniversary of Japan's international cooperation. In particular, we would like to welcome and offer our sincere appreciation to H.E. Miss Helen Clark, Administrator of UNDP, H.E. Mr. Albert F. del Rosario, Secretary of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of the Philippines, and H.E. Mr. Michael Kamau, Cabinet Secretary for Transport and Infrastructure of the Republic of Kenya, for visiting Japan to attend this symposium.

This year, Japan celebrates the 60th anniversary of its Official Development Assistance (ODA). At the Japan National Press Club last March, I announced to kick off the revision process of Japan's ODA Charter, last revised eleven years ago.

The reason behind this is the recognition that the roles of ODA have evolved along with the changing circumstances surrounding ODA both in and outside Japan. Since Japan started its ODA program in 1954, it has contributed to the stability and prosperity of developing world by providing ODA to 190 countries and areas. This has contributed to strengthening Japan's relationships with these countries and raising its stature in the international community.

However, as the economies in Asia, Africa and Latin America develop, the percentage of ODA in the total capital flows into developing countries has decreased from 40% to less than 20%, and in turn, private flows (PF), amounting to almost triple the volume of ODA, are playing an increasingly larger role for their development. The level of Japan's ODA, in terms of the annual regular budget (i.e. excluding supplementary budget), has declined year after year and halved compared to the peak period, due to severe fiscal situation.

These are the context in which we have initiated the discussions for the revision of the ODA Charter with a view to redefining the significance of our ODA in the future.

Today, I would like to share with you my own views in this regard.

1.Development Cooperation that Japan, as a Contributor to Peace, Aims For

Over the past 60 years, what Japan has put the greatest emphasis on with regard to ODA has not been to give unilateral "assistance" to developing countries but to extend "cooperation" which encourages self-help efforts and self-reliant development by and for developing countries and their people by meeting with them eye-to-eye and toiling together.

I myself, for the past year and ten months since I took office as Minister for Foreign Affairs, have seen with my own eyes the sites of Japan's ODA during my visits around the world. When I visited India in November last year, I had the opportunity to take a short ride on Delhi Metro whose scale is about to exceed that of Tokyo Metro. More than half of the total construction costs for the Delhi subway system, which commenced operation in 2002, were financed by Japanese yen loans.

Japanese assistance, however, has extended beyond simply providing the funds. Japanese companies and consultants participated in the installation of subway cars, the construction of railways and stations, and the management of construction works, and also provided technical assistance in fields such as safe operations and the maintenance and management of vehicles.

According to Indian members involved in the project, such assistance has brought about changes in their mindsets and working styles as a result of learning from Japanese colleagues about the importance of ideas such as taking a serious view of safety, maintaining quality, and observing due dates. I heard that the word "Nouki" (which means "due date" in Japanese) has become familiar among the members there. This subway, which is also friendly to handicapped people as well as women, has established its position as a means of transportation used by more than 2 million people per day, and has changed the population's quality of life.

"Building a country starts with the capacity building of its people" - this idea was held up by then Prime Minister Hayato Ikeda who founded my political group, Kouchikai, at the time our country started development cooperation. Japan, under this idea, has implemented cooperation which is conveyed from person to person, as the example of Delhi Metro shows, with our eyes meeting those of developing countries, and by sharing our experience of becoming the first Asian country to achieve the status of a developed country, an achievement made possible through the use of human resources, nearly the only resource left in the ashes of war.

On the occasion of my visit last August to Vietnam, I felt that the expectations and trust placed in Japan have truly grown. This year, when we asked Vietnamese people which countries they trust most, amazingly, 46% of them listed Japan, taking the number one spot far above other countries. Also, in almost all other ASEAN countries, Japan is regarded as the most trustworthy country. Certainly, behind such trust, there exist friendly relationships which our country has established through steady cooperation and by placing importance on linkages between people.

Japan has expressed its resolution to contribute even more actively to the peace, stability and prosperity of the world under the policy of "Proactive Contribution to Peace" based on the principle of international cooperation. We will act as a "Proactive Contributor to Peace" based on the trust we have garnered as a peace-loving country that has been contributing to the peace and prosperity of the international community through non-military cooperation by means of ODA. In this way, we will steadfastly maintain the principle of avoiding any use of ODA for military purposes or for aggravation of international conflicts.

Another important point is to free each and every person from fear and want, and to develop his or her potential capabilities from the perspective of human security. This constitutes a basic policy under which Japan extends development cooperation.

I believe that these ways of thinking which we have fostered through our long experience as a contributor to peace will support Japan's development cooperation from now on.

2.Concrete Direction of Japan's Development Cooperation from Now on

Well then, what importance and roles will Japan's ODA have in the coming era?

As I mentioned earlier, private flows which enter into developing countries from advanced countries considerably exceed the ODA amount and comprise a major force for the growth of developing countries.

In this case, will ODA no longer be necessary? I believe that there still exists a role for the ODA typical of Japan which is not simply an offer of funds.

First, the role of ODA as a catalyst.

Strong growth led by the private sector is necessary for developing countries to eradicate poverty and achieve self-reliant development. Sustainable eradication of poverty cannot be achieved without growth, in light of Japan's experience that, since as early as the 1960s, Japan has been providing ODA mainly in Asia to promote economic development such as infrastructure and human resources development which led to the growth of Asian countries. ODA has played the role of a "catalyst" to get private sector-led growth on track.

Economic growth alone, however, may widen the gap between the rich and poor, and leave socially vulnerable people behind.

Therefore, "Quality Growth" is important.

"Quality Growth" means that the fruits of growth are shared within society as a whole and no one is left behind, and in that sense, such growth is "inclusive". It entails realizing "sustainable" development in three dimensions, namely economic, social and environmental, while recognizing the worsening global environment and taking limited resources into account. Also, it means building a society that is "resilient" to various threats such as economic crises, natural disasters, and conflicts, which all countries may encounter. "Quality Growth" is growth accompanied by these three elements, namely inclusiveness, sustainability and resilience.

I believe that it is important for future ODA to continue to play the role of a catalyst to attract private sector investments and, in the end, a catalyst to link these investments with "Quality Growth".

There exists in the ASEAN region huge demand for infrastructure development including strengthening of connectivity with the aim of building the Community. Japan will make use of ODA with a view to mobilizing private sector funds more effectively, including business development by Public and Private Partnerships (PPP), through dialogue with ASEAN countries.

Today, we have here Mr. Kamau who is the Cabinet Secretary for Transport and Infrastructure of Kenya. The realization of "Quality Growth" in Africa was announced as a development target for the next five years in the TICAD V (5th Tokyo International Conference on African Development) in June last year. Development of growth corridors, which includes the north corridor linking Kenya and Uganda, will serve this objective.

We will realize "Quality Growth" by pursuing quality of infrastructure with advanced technologies and ideas as well as environmental and social considerations. In doing so, we believe that it is important to extend cooperation not only providing ODA but gathering "All Japan" 's efforts, in coordination with other public funds, private companies, NGOs, local governments, universities, etc.

Working on development cooperation with all of these people should strengthen exchanges between people at the grassroots level and in turn enhance friendly relations with the world.

Second, ODA for a peaceful and stable society.

In order to achieve "Quality Growth", it is essential as a prerequisite to have an environment which enables each and every person to focus on his or her economic and social activities with a sense of safety.

Japan has given support to realizing a peaceful and stable society, including involvement in peacebuilding efforts. Cooperation to the Mindanao peace process in the Philippines, which we have proactively engaged in over the past ten years or so, is a good example. We support the realization of the comprehensive Agreement on the Bangsamoro, which the Government of the Philippines is advancing, in cooperation with Secretary Del Rosario.

Also, in order to realize a stable society, it is indispensable to ensure universal values such as freedom, democracy, respect for fundamental human rights, and the rule of law. From these points of view, Japan will make efforts even more proactively by supporting capacity development for legal and judicial sectors as well as improving governance. What we believe is most effective about Japan's assistance is that we have actually shaped what a region or a country ought to be, on a mid- to long-term basis, in collaboration with recipient countries, by mobilizing not only funds but also people, technology, ethics and habits.

Last but not least, what we should never forget is ODA for human security.

Along with the advancement of globalization, we see mounting global challenges such as environmental problems, climate change, natural disasters, and infectious diseases. These are some of the issues, among others, that affect the poorest populations in developing countries and which cannot be resolved by any one country acting alone. To make efforts in promoting cooperation to overcome common threats to mankind is a desirable common interest of all countries. This represents a common challenge that Japan should sincerely undertake.

The issues which accompany globalization are important themes for discussions on the post-2015 development agenda. Hand in hand with international organizations, including UNDP, of which Administrator Clark is present today, we will contribute to promoting universal health coverage in the public health area, improving the status of women, and promoting the mainstreaming of disaster risk reduction by building on the outcomes of the Third UN World Conference on Disaster Risk Reduction to be held in Sendai next March. There is no doubt that ODA will be playing a major role there.

3. Conclusion

Based on the aforementioned ideas, I have decided to review the ODA Charter for the first time in eleven years and newly formulate "Development Cooperation Charter".

I was informed that Administrator Clark, when she was Prime Minister of New Zealand, often stated that countries in the world were on a race to the future and that to compete in that race it was important to be very strategic and make the right policy moves and investments.

In the current era where the world is changing on a large scale, there are new roles for ODA to play as "Investment in the Future". For this reason, we, grounded on Japan's strong tradition with a 60-year history of ODA, and intensifying both in quality and volume, must create ODA that can play a role that fulfills the needs of this age, for the peace and prosperity of Japan and the world.

The new "Development Cooperation Charter" will serve as a compass indicating the direction in which Japan's development cooperation should go as a responsible country in the international community.

It would greatly please me if you would actively exchange opinions on the roles and directions Japan's ODA should aim for in the international community and, at the same time, if we could kindly receive your understanding on and support for the fundamental ideas which I have set forth today.

Thank you very much.