Japan's Official Development Assistance White Paper 2006

Main Text > Part II ODA DISBURSEMENTS IN FISCAL YEAR 2005 > Chapter 2 Details about Japan's ODA > 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 sustainable economic growth through industrial advancement and improving economic productivity. The active use of ICT is highly significant in enhancing information disclosures by the government, improving governance—a cornerstone of democratization—through assistance to mass media, and strengthening civil society by means of improved convenience and services. At the same time, the disparity is becoming manifest between people who have access to ICT and those who do not. This so-called "digital divide" poses an issue that could threaten the stability of the international community by further widening the economic disparity between developed and developing countries. Therefore it has become of the utmost importance to resolve this issue in recent years.

    At the Kyushu-Okinawa Summit in July 2000, Japan announced Japan's Comprehensive Co-operation Package to Address the International Digital Divide, under which Japan pledged to provide assistance consisting of ODA and Other Official Flows (OOF), a total of approximately US$15 billion over the following five years. ICT is an area that is generally led by the private sector. Therefore, most of the assistance offered to this area is provided mainly by OOF such as investment loans, export financing, and untied loans through JBIC, which supports private sector-based projects. On the other hand, ODA assistance is extended to cooperation in areas that are not generally appropriate for private sector businesses to undertake, such as the establishment of infrastructure and human resource development in developing countries. Under these principles, Japan is advancing cooperation through public funding, including OOF 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 2001, Japan set up the Strategic Headquarters for the Promotion of an Advanced Information and Telecommunications Network Society in the Cabinet, aiming to quickly and intensively implement policies related to the creation of a society equipped with advanced information and telecommunications networks. The headquarters works on the development of ICT areas not only for Japan but also for other Asian countries.

    In March 2003 Japan formulated the Asia Broadband Program as an action plan to provide a broadband environment throughout Asia. With a revision in August 2006, the Program has designated as its prioritized target cooperation in the areas of application and human resource development. The program 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, Viet Nam, Indonesia, Cambodia, the Philippines, China, and India, and multilateral cooperation with China and the Republic of Korea (ROK). Based on these agreements, Japan has held policy dialogues in order to understand what is requested by the partner countries and actively implement measures that can fulfill the local needs of each partner country. Under this program, Japan has been assisting in developing infrastructure in Viet Nam, 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 the dissemination of applications. Furthermore, Japan has been focusing its efforts on development of ICT-related human resources by such means as implementing technical cooperation projects, holding training 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 Strategic Headquarters. Under the framework of this initiative, Japan is carrying out various forms of assistance for human resource development in the IT sectors of various Asian countries.

    Specifically, to Viet Nam, Japan extended a yen loan for the Higher Education Development Support Project on ICT, through which Japan provides the equipment necessary for ICT personnel development, accepts students from the country, and dispatches experts to promote high-level ICT education at local universities. To the Philippines, Japan extends assistance through the ICT Human Resource Development Project.

    Furthermore, the Basic Concept on IT International Policy Centered on Asia was adopted at the 27th Meeting of the IT Strategy Headquarters in September 2004. Under this initiative Japan worked to improve its system and operation of ODA in the ICT 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. Japan regards its economic cooperation focusing on Asia as the keystone for its ICT international policy. On the other hand, for Asian countries it is of great benefit to cooperate with Japan to foster their human resources on ICT, expand their businesses and seek economic development. To create such mutually beneficial relations with Asian countries, Japan promotes a comprehensive human resource development programs on ICT that combine various instruments for assistance related to ODA. 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 gives full consideration to the ICT sector through such means as formulating priority measures related to ICT international policies focusing on Asia, and selecting focus areas of the Government's assistance, such as the use of public resources.

    Japan intends to continue to put forth active efforts in the ICT sector under the industry-academia-government cooperation, while keeping close coordination with international agencies and the governments of Asian countries.

Column II-4 Third Countries Training Program (TCTP) at the Polish-Japanese Institute of Information Technology (PJIIT)