Currently a large number of problems such as poverty, conflict, terrorism, infectious diseases, and environmental issues are accumulating, primarily in the developing countries. In this context, the international community is strengthening its efforts toward the realization of the Millennium Development Goals adopted in 2000. With the changes in the international environment following the end of the Cold War, the new development issues and concepts such as peace-building and human security have started to attract attention and actually a new situation has appeared where a perceptional change is required such as assistance for the reconstruction of Iraq.

Meanwhile, the domestic economic and fiscal situation is severe in Japan, so there is increasing necessity of gaining the public support and understanding for ODA. From this perspective, I have been vigorously pursuing ODA reform since my appointment as Minister for Foreign Affairs in February 2002.

Based on these new realities surrounding ODA, the solution we have come up with concerning what ODA should be in future is the revised ODA Charter, approved by the Cabinet in August 2003. The ODA Charter is a policy document that clarifies the philosophy behind Japanese ODA policies and comprehensively describes the results and direction of ODA reforms. The government is endeavoring to increase the strategic aspect, flexibility, transparency, and efficiency of ODA through the steady implementation of the revised ODA Charter. The government intends to work improve Japanese assistance by obtaining the wide-ranging participation of the Japanese public.

This year’s ODA White Paper, based on the fact that the ODA Charter has been revised for the first time in 11 years, explains the background to the revision of the ODA Charter, and the content and the recent status of implementation of the revised ODA Charter and we have taken care to describe in a clear and understandable manner, the direction of Japan’s ODA that the revised ODA Charter aims to achieve. Along with these explanations, case studies of the utilization of Japan’s experience and expertise, such as the activities of senior volunteers, emergency medical assistance by Japanese NGOs, and the dissemination of Maternal and Child Health Handbooks are taken up and concretely introduced in the ODA White Paper. I would be pleased if this white paper could be of any service in deepening understanding of the development issues of developing countries and Japan’s ODA.

April 2004


Yoriko Kawaguchi
Minister for Foreign Affairs

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