Japan's Official Development Assistance White Paper 2005

Main Text > Part II ODA DISBURSEMENTS IN FISCAL YEAR 2004 > Chapter 2 Details and New Policies about Japan's ODA:Striving for Further ODA Reforms > Section 1. Major Activities in Fiscal Year 2004 > 1. Formulation of the New Medium-Term Policy on ODA

Section 1. Major Activities in Fiscal Year 2004

1. Formulation of the New Medium-Term Policy on ODA

Within the framework of Japan's ODA policies, the ODA Charter, which clarifies the philosophies and principles of Japan's ODA, is the top-level policy. The Medium-Term Policy on ODA, under the ODA Charter, outlines the basic policies related to assistance activities within a three-to-five-year perspective. There are also Country Assistance Programs, which serve as guidelines for implementing assistance in relation to respective recipient countries, and sector-specific initiatives, which are guidelines for implementing assistance in relation to each sector.

The former Medium-Term Policy on ODA was formulated in August 1999 under the former ODA Charter, and since then, five years have passed. With the revision of ODA Charter in August 2003, the former Medium-Term Policy was fundamentally re-examined, and in February 2005, the New Medium-Term ODA Policy was formulated (see 2 of Chapter 3 for the main text). This formulation was highly significant for fulfilling accountability to Japanese people about how ODA is utilized, and in presenting Japan's approaches to ODA and its comparative advantages in assistance to recipient countries and other donor countries and organizations.

Preparations for the formulation of the New Medium-Term ODA Policy began in July 2003. First, Medium-Term Policy evaluation meetings were held to evaluate the former Medium-Term Policy and make proposals on the formulation of the New Medium-Term Policy. Then, based on these proposals, the Board on Comprehensive ODA Strategy was held in July 2004 to sort out issues and begin discussions on this matter, and the meeting was held five times in all. Also, from the policy formulation stage, numerous informal meetings were held to exchange opinions with NGOs, the business community, and others. The resulting first draft was brought forth to receive public feedback, and hearings on the New Medium-Term Policy were held in various places in order to hold discussions extensively with the general public, after which the New Medium-Term ODA Policy was submitted to the Cabinet on February 4, 2005.

Hearings on the New Medium-Term ODA Policy
Hearings on the New Medium-Term ODA Policy

Chart 12. Japan's ODA Policy Framework

Chart 12. Japan's ODA Policy Framework

In accordance with the ODA Charter, the New Medium-Term ODA Policy sets forth Japan's positions and actions focusing mainly on issues that Japan needs to present in concrete terms at home and abroad. Specifically, it addresses the "perspective of human security," which is one of the basic policies stipulated in the ODA Charter, "poverty reduction," "sustainable growth," "addressing global problems," and "peace-building" which are the four priority issues of the ODA Charter, and "measures to ensure the efficient and effective implementation of assistance." While presenting Japan's positions, approaches and specific actions regarding these issues above to people in Japan and abroad, the New Medium-Term ODA Policy states clearly the specific roles of the country-based ODA task forces, with the aim of implementing ODA more efficiently and effectively. The following section provides an overview and some particular features of the "perspective of human security," "priority issues," and "measures to ensure the efficient and effective implementation of assistance," which are addressed in the New Medium-Term ODA Policy.

(1) Perspective of Human Security

The perspective of human security is an item that was newly added to the ODA Charter revised in August 2003 as one of the basic policies. Upon positioning the perspective of human security as an issue to be reflected in the entire ODA, the New Medium-Term Policy details its approaches based on this concept. In sum, human security 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." From the viewpoint of determining what type of assistance is needed in order to reflect the human security perspective in ODA, the New Medium-Term Policy specifically exemplifies assistance that puts people at the center of concerns and that effectively reaches the people, assistance to strengthen local communities, assistance that emphasizes empowering people, assistance that emphasizes benefiting people who are exposed to threats, assistance that respects cultural diversity, and cross-sectoral assistance that mobilizes a range of professional expertise.

(2) Priority Issues

The New Medium-Term ODA Policy outlines Japan's approaches and specific actions related to the four priority issues that are upheld in the ODA Charter: poverty reduction, sustainable growth, addressing global issues, and peace-building. The following provides a brief explanation on the features of the respective issues.

Poverty Reduction

Japan reaffirms that it will actively contribute to achieving the Millennium Development Goals ( MDGs ). To this end, Japan will extend cross-sectoral assistance that is tailored to the stages of development. Furthermore, Japan not only provides direct assistance to the poor, but also supports the policy-making, the improvement of the investment climate through infrastructure development and the fostering of small- and medium-sized enterprises in order to reduce poverty by promoting economic growth of the entire country or region These are approaches that Japan has always stressed the importance of based on its experiences in East Asia.

Sustainable Growth

Japan in the past has actively provided assistance for the development of economic and social infrastructure that supports economic growth by means of yen loans and other forms of assistance, and has been playing a major role in providing the basis for economic growth mainly in the Asian region. Upon clearly stating such experiences and ideas held by Japan, the New Medium-Term ODA Policy describes Japan's policy to provide assistance for infrastructure development, policies and institutions related to trade and investment, human resources development, and the enhancement of economic partnerships.

Addressing Global Issues

Focus is placed on addressing environmental issues and disaster countermeasures that take into consideration the major earthquake off the coast of Sumatra, Indonesia and the tsunami in the Indian Ocean. Japan has acquired experience and knowledge on overcoming environmental issues and natural disasters, such as earthquakes and tsunamis, giving it comparative advantage over other countries in providing assistance. Japan will provide assistance by utilizing such accumulated know-how.


Based on the awareness that peace is the prerequisite for successful development, coherent assistance corresponding to various stages before and after conflict will be provided promptly and effectively in order to realize peace and stability. For example, Japan has the policy of securing a smooth transition from post-conflict emergency humanitarian assistance to the subsequent reconstruction development assistance, and eliminating as far as possible the gap that tends to occur between these two stages. Such assistance is extremely important, especially from the viewpoint of ensuring human security as well.

Box 1. Examples of Efforts in Human Security

(3) Measures to Ensure the Efficient and Effective Implementation of Assistance

Regarding measures to ensure efficient and effective implementation of assistance, the focus is placed on "strengthening functions at the field level." Specifically, it is stated that the country-based ODA task force, which is made up of Japanese embassies abroad, the overseas offices of Japan International Cooperation Agency ( JICA ), Japan Bank for International Cooperation ( JBIC ), and others, will fulfill an even more active role in formulating and considering assistance policies, such as Country Assistance Programs, and in formulation and selection of candidate projects for ODA. Strengthening such local functions is extremely vital in having a correct understanding of the needs of developing countries and providing assistance in a coherent manner.