Official Development Assistance (ODA)
Opening remark by H. E. Mr. Seiji MAEHARA,
Minister for Foreign Affairs of Japan,
at the Eighth Plenary Meeting of the Leading Group on Innovative Financing for Development

Tokyo, 16 December 2010

I appreciate that many countries and organizations have joined today's 8th Plenary Meeting of the Leading Group on Innovative Financing for Development.

In particular, as the President, Japan is honored to have the participation of His Excellency Mr. NGY, Secretary of State, Ministry of Economy and Finance of Kingdom of Cambodia and Dr. Jayasundera, Secretary, Ministry of Finance and Planning and Ministry of Economic Development of Democratic Socialist Republic of Sri Lanka.
I would also like to express my heartfelt gratitude to the efforts made by the Permanent Secretariat, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of France, in organizing this Plenary Meeting.

The world is still facing the severe reality in which many people suffer from starvation, diseases, climate change and natural disasters, and are unable to live in dignity.

Although the international community, including Japan, has been actively engaged in international cooperation, we need to mobilize even broader development resources to meet the global challenges of development, a major example being the MDGs. For this purpose, it is necessary to promote discussion on innovative financing.

The Leading Group on Innovative Financing for Development has taken the lead in international discussions concerning innovative financing mechanisms since its inception in 2006. I realize that the Leading Group has developed the ripples of innovative financing into a global wave. There still remains, however, the need to evoke greater interest in this undertaking and to promote active engagement by a broader range of countries, if we are to substantially spread the idea of innovative financing.

In order to lead international discussions, Japan assumed the Presidency of the Leading Group in June this year. When inducted as the President, Japan wished to fulfill its responsibility by stirring interest in innovative financing at home and abroad and by contributing to its promotion. Japan, thus, calls on countries to understand the importance of innovative financing and to join discussions at the Leading Group, while transcending differences in their individual positions and opinions.

Through the efforts of the successive Presidents and the Permanent Secretariat, the Minister for foreign Affairs of France, the Leading Group has expanded its membership year by year, and the number of member states has reached sixty one. On the other hand, only six countries including Japan have joined the Leading Group from Asia. Considering that one of the contributions Japan can make as a President from Asia would be to increase participation from Asia, Japan called on countries to participate in this Plenary Meeting.
A number of Asian countries have joined today's Plenary Meeting for the first time, responding to Japan's invitation. In particular, I would like to extend my hearty welcome to new participants from Asia including Sri Lanka and Bhutan as a formal member of the Leading Group, Australia, Indonesia, Laos, Mongol, Myanmar, New Zealand, Pakistan, Thailand, Timor-Leste and Vietnam as an observer for this Plenary Meeting.
When turning our eyes to G8 members, Canada and Russia are with us today for the first time as an observer for this Meeting. Moreover, from South America, Ecuador has joined the Leading Group as a formal member, and from Europe, Ireland has decided to participate as an observer for this Plenary Meeting.
The participation of these countries means that innovative financing has already developed from the interests of certain countries into international agenda in a true sense, and has reached the new stage.

For its own part, Japan has taken specific measures. The Government of Japan has been a strong supporter for the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis, and Malaria, from its incipience, which has implemented innovative financing mechanisms including Debt2Health. Japanese private companies have also supported the Global Fund: the Takeda Pharmaceutical Company has been providing financial support; and the Sumitomo Chemical has also cooperated with the Global Fund by supplying long-lasting insecticide-treated mosquito nets. Besides these measures, from 2011, the Government will start to provide assistance to the GAVI Alliance, which develops and practices innovative financing mechanisms such as IFFIm and AMC.

Regarding international solidarity levies for development, the Government of Japan will continue exploring such levies at fora such as its Tax Commission. We will deepen the understanding of the public through discussion on international solidarity levies at the Tax Commission, while taking account of international discussion and practice.

Moreover, voluntary contributions by the private sector are of great importance in tackling global development challenges including the MDGs. Financial flow to developing countries, including migrant's remittance and donation by civil organizations, is estimated to be much larger than the amount of ODA according to certain research.

In Japan, citizens are becoming more interested in contributing to financing for development. For example, the International Financial Facility for Immunization has mobilized over 2 billion dollars in the international market since November 2006. Out of this amount, over 1.3 billion dollars has come from Japanese individual and institutional investors.
In addition, various bonds have been issued in Japan for the purpose of assisting developing countries. These bonds include "Water Bond" by Asia Development Bank and "Africa Education Bond" by Africa Development Bank, to name a few. From the beginning of this year to the end of this September, the amount of bonds for financing development issued in Japan reached approximately 3.5billion dollars. This demonstrates that Japanese citizens widely share the sense of solidarity in supporting people in the world.

The Government of Japan will assist the efforts by the private sector to translate the will of citizens and civil society into concrete results. To harmonize these voluntary contributions with the international trend of development assistance, the Government of Japan will explore new forms of cooperation between the public and private sectors through active dialogue with private companies and organizations. By doing so, Japan will make constructive contributions in a nation-wide approach.

I hope that active discussion at this Plenary Meeting will further raise awareness on innovative financing in each country and contribute to the achievement of international development goals.