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 3. Assistance for Each Region > 7. Oceania

7. Oceania

Japan's bilateral ODA to Oceania in 2004 was approximately US$42.15 million, 0.7% of total bilateral ODA.

Japan and Oceania, which share the Pacific Ocean, have strong historical ties and maintain friendly relations. Countries in the Oceanian region have an extensive Exclusive Economic Zone ( EEZ ). This region provides an important fishing ground for Japan's deep-sea fisheries industry, as well as strategic stops for maritime transportation. As such, peace and prosperity in this region are extremely important for Japan.

Many countries in Oceania have achieved independence relatively recently and the priority issues are to establish socially and economically self-reliant states. In addition, these countries face a number of common difficulties peculiar to island nations, such as small-scale economies, the dependence on primary industries, geographic dispersion, the distance from international markets, vulnerability to natural disasters, the risk of losing land territory, and others. Based on such circumstances, and as a friendly partner of the Oceanian region, Japan provides assistance, while taking into account the individual situation of each country.

Oceania is divided into three major regions of Melanesia, Polynesia, and Micronesia. 49 Each area has its own unique ethnic groups, traditional societies, and geological characteristics.

Chart 32. Japan's Assistance Disbursements in the Oceania

Chart 32. Japan's Assistance Disbursements in the Oceania

There are many countries in Melanesia which are in difficult economic situations, such as low national income, and have a high development demand. In the Solomon Islands, where the domestic policies had been chaotic for a long time, public stability improved significantly in recent years, and therefore, Japan resumed in May 2005 its dispatch of Japan Overseas Cooperation Volunteers ( JOCV ), which had been halted since June 2000. Japan also provides assistance for national reconstruction of the Solomon Islands by rebuilding the Honiara International Airport, and by restoring the foundation for its fishery industry for bonito and tuna in order to foster domestic industry. On the other hand, there are countries like Fiji, which has a large population and economy and is relatively developed. Fiji is one of the best known tourist spots in the Pacific, where many head offices for regional agencies such as the University of the South Pacific ( USP ) and the Pacific Islands Forum ( PIF ) are located. Japan supports Fiji through cooperation such as dispatching experts to promote tourism so it can gain economic independence. Meanwhile, in order to provide region-wide cooperation not only to Fiji but also to the whole Pacific region, Japan is implementing a project to provide remote education programs to USP and to enhance information and communication technology. In Papua New Guinea, Japan is implementing a technical cooperation project to promote small-scale rice farming that would help raise income and reduce disparities among regions.

In the Micronesian region, there are many countries which were governed by Japan before the Second World War as South Sea Islands under the League of Nations mandate. After the War, these were governed by the trusteeship of the United States under the United Nations and later gained independence. Many Japanese descendants, including a number of former presidents, have actively taken part in the region's political and business circles. To date still, the tendency to rely on financial support from the United States remains strong. However, the United States adopts a limited time frame for assistance, and therefore, expectations toward Japan and the role for Japan to fulfill in order for Micronesian countries to achieve economic independence have been expanding. In addition, due to the geographical situation in the Micronesian region, being rich in coral reef and atolls, but poor in underground resources, and the dispersion of their territory over a large area, it is extremely difficult to achieve economic development. Therefore, assistance remains essential for this region to gain economic independence. In FY2004, Japan provided grant aid to assist in the development of national infrastructures and the promotion of industries in Micronesia including the Project for Improvement of the Circumferential Road in the Pohnpei Island and the Project for Improvement of Interisland Access Road in Palau which had began in FY2003. Moreover, in the area of fisheries, which is one of the core industries of the Micronesian countries, Japan provided grant aid for the Project for Kritimati Island Coastal Fisheries Development in Kiribati aiming at developing fishing infrastructures such as refrigeration and ice making to promote small-scale fishing operations.

Polynesia is made up of countries such as Tonga and Samoa, which are volcanic islands, whose land is relatively fertile and well suited for agriculture, and small island states and regions such as Tuvalu, which is formed by a coral reef , and the Cook Islands and Niue, which are part of the dominion of New Zealand. In FY2004, Japan dispatched individual experts to Samoa to provide guidance on utilizing facility equipment and computer maintenance at the National University of Samoa, which was constructed through grant aid. Assistance is also provided to develop human resources in Samoa by improving vocational schools through grant aid.

The Project for Rehabilitation of Bridges on the Highlands Highway (Papua New Guinea), as the roads and bridges of Papua New Guinea's Highlands Highway constitute the main transportation artery of the country
The Project for Rehabilitation of Bridges on the Highlands Highway (Papua New Guinea), as the roads and bridges of Papua New Guinea's Highlands Highway constitute the main transportation artery of the country

Japan has been promoting cooperation with PIF, a framework for regional cooperation composed of the leaders of the Oceanian countries. The Japan-Pacific Islands Forum ( PIF ) Summit Meeting, a leaders' meeting of Japan and the PIF countries, was held twice, in 1997 and 2000. In May 2003, the Third Japan-PIF Summit Meeting was held in Okinawa, which shares common characteristics with the island countries of the Pacific such as climate and oceanic environment. At this summit meeting, in addition to previous cooperation with the Oceanian countries, the leaders adopted the Okinawa Initiative, which takes into account the discussions and the Koizumi initiative on concrete measures taken at the WSSD in September, 2002. The Okinawa Initiative contains a strategy and an action plan for Japan and the Oceanian countries to think together about the development of the region and to make joint efforts. Based on the initiative, each country is to take responsibility and make efforts in the following five priority sectors: security, environment, education, health, and trade. As specific examples, in the area of education, Japan announced that it would implement new construction, expansion, renovation, or equipment provision for 100 primary education facilities such as elementary schools over a period of three years, and has already realized this in over 100 schools. In the area of health and environment, Japan has steadily implemented assistance in line with the Okinawa Initiative, through training, dispatch of experts, etc. In March 2005, upon PIF Chairman and Samoan Prime Minister Tuilaepa's visit to Japan, Prime Minister Koizumi expressed the intention to hold the next Japan-PIF Summit Meeting in mid-2006.

Japan provides assistance for environmental conservation and the provision of educational services through wide-area cooperation outside the framework of state in order to carry out efficient and effective assistance that takes into account the geographic dispersion of the Oceanian region. With regard to the support for environmental conservation, Japan has been contributing to solve regional environmental problems by dispatching experts and training in waste management for the Training Education Center for the South Pacific Regional Environmental Programme, which was built by Japan's grant aid, and by drafting a waste management master plan for the island countries. Concerning the provision of educational services, Japan offers a wide range of opportunities to the people of the island nations to receive higher education through facilitating remote education networks at the USP.