Japan Remains Committed to ODA-based Humanitarian Aid despite the Great East Japan Earthquake

September 2, 2011

In July 2011, Ministry of Foreign Affairs issued a policy paper on Japan's Humanitarian Assistance. The following is the gist of the paper, coupled with recent examples of Japan's humanitarian assistance.

Humanitarian Aid and Human Security

Human Security, which is one of the principal pillars of foreign policy of Japan, means focusing on individual people and building societies in which everyone can live with dignity by protecting and empowering individuals and communities that are exposed to actual or potential threats. Therefore humanitarian assistance can be considered as one of the undertakings to realize human security.

The Government of Japan will continue to make appropriate and active contribution to the international community in humanitarian assistance in spite of the recent serious domestic natural disaster, the Great East Japan Earthquake. Moreover, Japan believes that the reconstruction of Japan from this disaster is possible only through cooperation with international community.

Humanitarian crises are getting more diversified and the international environment around them is also changing. Japan will take following four points into account when implementing its humanitarian assistance: prolonged and more complex humanitarian crises; increase of natural disasters in number and scale; security of aid workers; and diversification of actors in humanitarian assistance.

The Government of Japan respects the basic principles of humanitarian assistance which are humanity, impartiality, neutrality and independence. Rapid and efficient implementation is essential in humanitarian assistance, and the Government of Japan decides its assistance based on needs on the ground, request from affected countries and/or international appeals.

Assistance to Refugees and IDPs

For example, one of important issues needing humanitarian assistance is the question of refugees and internally displaced persons (IDPs). The number of such people in the world forced to take refuge due to conflict, persecution, natural disasters and other factors exceeded 43 million at the end of 2009. Japan is determined to continue humanitarian assistance on the basis of the perception that such aid for refugees and IDPs is necessary from the perspective of human security and, as a result of assistance, serves to secure regional peace and stability.

Specifically, Japan is pursuing a two-way approach to help refugees. One is emergency relief for their daily lives such as the supply of housing, food and water. The other is assistance aimed at permanent solutions calling for refugees' voluntary return to home countries, and permanent settlement in countries of refuge or in third countries.

IDPs are different from refugees in the sense that they do not cross national borders in escaping from humanitarian crises. However, they are not much different from refugees in that they also need support after fleeing from places of residence. Response to IDPs used to be taken primarily as a domestic issue and excluded from the main target for international humanitarian assistance. Given a rapid rise in the number of IDPs and deterioration in their situations, however, the international community has embarked on their protection and assistance. Japan will continue humanitarian assistance proactively for IDPs as well in a manner similar to aid for refugees.

For further details on Japan's Humanitarian Assistance, please visit the following website:


Examples of Recent Humanitarian Assistance

The following are examples of recent Japanese humanitarian assistance after the Great East Japan Earthquake.

Horn of Africa

In the "Horn of Africa" region, drought has worsened since last fall. Without sufficient rainfall in the spring rainy season this year, the region has been struck by the worst drought-caused food crisis in 60 years. According to the U.N. Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (UNOCHA), about 12.4 million people require emergency humanitarian assistance in Somalia, Kenya, Ethiopia and Djibouti.

In response to U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon's request on July 12 for assistance in the Horn of Africa, Japan decided on July 15 and implemented food assistance in cooperation with the World Food Program (WFP), with grant aid of 5 million US dollars (about 400 million yen).

At the request of the Government of the Republic of Kenya, Japan decided on August 5 to offer, through the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA), approximately 600,000 US dollars (50 million yen) worth emergency relief goods (such as power generators and tents) to assist refugee camps in Kenya.

Japan has already decided and implemented assistance for the Horn of Africa, including approximately 95 million US dollars worth assistance extended in cooperation with international organizations and about 1 million US dollars worth offered to assist NGO activities in the region. The latest offer of emergency relief goods is another step of such assistance by Japan, and they will be used for activities by the Office of the U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) at Kenyan refugee camps in the Horn of Africa. Japan will provide additional humanitarian assistance as needed to address problems caused by the drought in the region, closely watching developments in the local situation.


On August 3, Japan provided about 1.3 million US dollars (100 million yen) to fund UNHCR activities in Yemen in order to help improve the humanitarian situation in the country. In Yemen, clashes have continued since February this year between anti-government demonstrators demanding the resignation of President Ali Abdullah Saleh, who has been in power for 33 years, and the security forces, leaving more than 300 people dead so far. More than 300,000 people have become IDPs. Under these circumstances, Japan's fund contribution will be used to assist these IDPs in Yemen.

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