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 5. Formulation and Implementation of ODA Policy > 1. System for Formulation and Implementation of ODA Policy > 2. Increasing Public Participation

2. Increasing Public Participation

(1) Broad Participation by Japanese Citizens from All Walks of Life

In view of the fact that taxpayers' money contributes to ODA, sustaining ODA requires efforts to gain public understanding and support for Japanese citizens toward ODA by facilitating public relations and development education. At the same time, it is important to expand human resources engaging in ODA by further promoting public participatory cooperation activities and thereby encouraging the Japanese people to acquire a better understanding of ODA.

To expand the participation of the Japanese public on the basis of this concept, systems are being established that will allow involvement in the formulation and implementation of ODA at various levels. Specifically, MOFA has been soliciting opinions via its ODA website and holding public hearings in the process of establishing a new Medium-Term Policy on ODA. Likewise, opinions were solicited via the ODA website with regard to Country Assistance Programs. Through these and other efforts, the Government is broadly embracing the views of the Japanese public at the level of development of ODA policy as well.

In addition to this, concerning participation of Japanese citizens from all walks of life in ODA, there are programs like the Japan Overseas Cooperation Volunteers ( JOCV ) and Senior Volunteer.

The JOCV project dispatches young people between the ages of 20 and 39 for a period of about two years to work for the people of developing countries, while also lending assistance to the social and economic development of the country. JOCV has a long history, having marked its 40th anniversary in 2005, and is a form of Japanese assistance that has been highly praised overseas. By FY2004, a total of 26,932 JOCV members had been dispatched overseas.

The corresponding project for seniors is a public participatory project under which JICA supports the activities of senior citizens between ages 40 to 69 who possess a wide range of skills and abundant experience and wish to contribute to the development of developing countries on a volunteer basis. Launched as "Senior Cooperation Experts" in FY1990, it was renamed "Senior Volunteer" in FY1996, being positioned as the volunteer project serving as the senior version of JOCV. By FY2004, a total of 2,280 senior volunteers had been dispatched to 53 countries.

In order to promote public participatory projects, provisions were established in the JICA Reform Plan (Phase 2) to diversify the forms of participation in JOCV and Senior Volunteer, including short-term dispatches of members (less than one year), with a view to further increasing public participation.

Other programs for promoting citizens' participation include the annual International Cooperation Festival held in Tokyo's Hibiya Park in commemoration of International Cooperation Day, October 6 (the name of this festival changed to "Global Festa JAPAN" from FY2005), ODA Town Meetings, which commenced in August 2001, and the Monitoring Group of Citizens on Japan's ODA launched in FY1999. For details on the status of ODA Town Meetings, refer to 2 (4) of Part II, Chapter 2, Section 5.

Column 10 The Struggle of a JOCV Member in Mozambique

Meanwhile, concerning yen loan projects, JBIC is channeling efforts to not only foster collaboration with universities, local governments, and NGOs, but to expand public participation as well. In FY2004 various projects were implemented in this regard:

  • Agreements concerning economic cooperation programs were concluded with Yamaguchi University, Waseda University, Hitotsubashi University, Kyoto University, Nagoya University, and Hiroshima University (agreements have been concluded with a total of seven universities including Ritsumeikan University and Ritsumeikan Asia Pacific University already concluded in FY2003);

  • Upon the project formulation in China, JBIC missions received the participation of Japanese local municipal governments (Fukuoka, Yokkaichi, Sapporo, Osaka, etc.) and experts from universities (Toyama Medical and Pharmaceutical University, Yokkaichi University, and Shiga Prefectural University), which enabled Japan's experience and knowledge to be provided to the recipient government;

  • Promoting mutual understanding and information exchange through consultations with local governments and local international associations;

  • Organizing regular NGO-JBIC conferences and yen loan seminars;

  • Evaluating yen loan projects in Viet Nam with universities, local governments, and private enterprises that take interest in international cooperation in collaboration with JBIC;

  • Organizing seminars for promoting public participation in international cooperation activities.