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 2. Measures for Each of the Priority Issues > 2.Sustainable Growth > (4) ICT

(4) ICT

The dissemination of Information and Communication Technology ( ICT ) which has been advancing at a rapid pace in recent years, contributes to the realization of sustainable economic growth through industrial advancement and improving economic productivity.ICT has also been playing an important role in improving the countries' governance and strengthening their civil society, which is to become the basis for democratization through promoting information disclosure of governments and supporting the media. At the same time, the disparity between people who have access to ICT and those who do not, the so-called "digital divide," is becoming an issue that could threaten the stability of the international community to further widen the economic discrepancy between developed and developing countries. Therefore, it has become of utmost importance to resolve this issue.

At the Kyushu-Okinawa Summit in July 2000, Japan announced "Japan's Comprehensive Co-operation Package to Address the International Digital Divide," under which it will provide assistance consisting of ODA and non-ODA public funding, a total of approximately US$15 billion over the following five years. Because ICT is an area that is generally led by the private sector, most of the assistance offered to this area of cooperation is provided mainly by non-ODA funds such as investment funds, export financing, and untied loans through Japan Bank for International Cooperation ( JBIC ), which supports private-sector-based projects. ODA assistance is extended to cooperation in areas that are not generally appropriate for private-sector businesses to undertake, such as establishment of infrastructure and human resources development in developing countries. Under these principles, Japan is advancing cooperation through public funding, including non-ODA assistance, based on the following four pillars: (1) raising awareness of ICT opportunities and contributing intellectually to policy and institution-building; (2) developing and training human resources; (3) building ICT infrastructure and providing assistance for network establishment; and (4) promoting the use of ICT in development assistance.

In March 2003 Japan formulated the Asia Broadband Program as an action plan to provide a broadband environment throughout Asia. This plan aims to make Asia the information base of the world through the fulfillment of seven goals by FY2010, including broadband access for all people in Asia. To advance this program, Japan has so far made agreements to advance bilateral cooperation with Thailand, Malaysia, Vietnam, Indonesia, Cambodia, the Philippines, China, and India, and multilateral cooperation with China and South Korea. Based on these agreements, Japan has held policy dialogues in order to understand what is requested by the partner countries. Under this program, Japan has been assisting in developing infrastructure in Vietnam, Iraq, and Cambodia, as well as working for technology development through such means as collaborative experiments with other Asian countries using fiber optics broadband networks, etc., and dissemination of applications. Furthermore, Japan has been focusing its efforts on technical cooperation projects and development of ICT-related human resources by such means as holding trainings and seminars, and dispatching experts to various Asian countries and international organizations.

Moreover, the Asia IT Initiative ( AITI ) was submitted in July 2003 under the e-Japan II Strategy, which was adopted at the 19th Meeting of the IT Strategy Headquarters. Under the framework of this initiative, Japan is carrying out various forms of assistance for human resources development in the IT sector of many countries. Specifically, in the Philippines, Japan provided training in line with the IT engineer examination and training that aims at strengthening IT-related skills and dispatched experts to enhance the capacity of the organizations that conduct the IT engineer examinations. In Vietnam, Japan is putting forth efforts in building comprehensive personnel development programs, including various short-term training courses, in order to raise the standard of education provided in Vietnam and to develop its industries. Such training programs are mainly mid-term programs offered at higher-level education institutions in Japan and Vietnam, and make use of the curriculum of IT education that is in line with the information processing engineer examination.

Furthermore, based on the Basic Concept on IT International Policy Centered on Asia, which was adopted at the 27th Meeting of the IT Strategy Headquarters in September 2004, Japan made efforts to improve the system and operation of ODA in the IT sector. This included setting a standard processing timeframe aimed at shortening the period from request to implementation of ODA, procuring in lump orders, clarifying the scope of "goods procured from Japan" under the Special Term for Economic Partnership ( STEP ), and clarifying the definition of system start-up expenses eligible for cooperation. In addition, the IT Policy Package - 2005, which was adopted at the 29th Meeting of the IT Strategy Headquarters in February 2005, states that Japan will give full consideration to the IT sector through such means as formulating priority measures related to IT international policies focusing on Asia, and selecting focus areas of the government's assistance, such as the use of public funds.

Japan intends to continue to put forth active efforts in the IT sector under the industry-academic-government cooperation through closely cooperating with international agencies and governments of Asian countries.