Official Development Assistance (ODA)

2. Efforts for Securing the Appropriateness of Development Cooperation

Japan formulates and implements development cooperation policies based on the implementation principles outlined in the Development Cooperation Charter.

(1) Development Cooperation as a Peace-loving Nation

Under the Development Cooperation Charter, Japan is committed to promoting development cooperation in order to contribute more proactively to securing peace, stability, and prosperity of the international community from the perspective of “Proactive Contribution to Peace” based on the principle of international cooperation. For this purpose, Japan sets forth the basic policy of “contributing to peace and prosperity through cooperation for non-military purposes,” i.e., promoting development cooperation that is suitable for Japan as a peace-loving nation.

The Development Cooperation Charter does not change the consistent principle that Japan will not use ODA for military purposes; it stipulates “contributing to peace and prosperity through cooperation for non-military purposes” and firmly maintains policies to promote development cooperation that is suitable to Japan as a peace-loving nation. On the other hand, in recent years, the armed forces or members of the armed forces have played an important role in non-military activities such as measures to combat infectious diseases, public welfare for recovery and reconstruction after conflict, assistance for disaster relief, etc. There have been an increasing number of situations in which the cooperation of these people for non-military purposes is necessary in order to address the important development issues in the international community.

Based on these points, the Development Cooperation Charter clarified Japan's policies about dealing with the armed forces or members of the armed forces engaging in development cooperation for non-military purposes, that had not been sufficiently clear before, under the principle of “avoiding any use of development cooperation for military purposes or for aggravation of international conflicts.” Furthermore, Japan has been proactively contributing to fighting against terrorism and peacebuilding, and ensures that the principles of the Charter are fully respected in all situations in order to prevent the use of Japan's aid supplies and financing for military purposes. At the same time Japan thoroughly implements pre-screening by the Development Project Accountability Committee and post-monitoring in order to ensure the appropriateness of cooperation.

Japan also provides development cooperation bearing in mind the situation in recipient countries regarding military expenditures, development and production of weapons of mass destruction and missiles, and export and import of arms, etc. This is done with a view to maintaining and enhancing international peace and stability including the prevention of terrorism and the non-proliferation of weapons of mass destruction, and based on the position that developing countries should allocate their resources appropriately and preferentially for their own socio-economic development.

(2) Impact on the Environment and Climate Change, and Consideration to the Socially Vulnerable
Villagers in Sao Tome and Principe which has no water supply gather at the river every morning to do the washing. (Photo: Nao Muramoto / Embassy of Japan in Gabon)

Villagers in Sao Tome and Principe which has no water supply gather at the river every morning to do the washing. (Photo: Nao Muramoto / Embassy of Japan in Gabon)

The environmental footprint and the impact on local communities need to be taken into consideration in the process of economic development. Japan utilizes its experience of industrial pollution, including Minamata disease, in the careful implementation of Japan's ODA to avoid and minimize adverse effects on the environment.

When implementing development cooperation, Japan checks whether the counterpart governments or relevant implementing organizations have given consideration to the impact on the environment and local communities, such as the resettlement of residents and the violation of the rights of indigenous people and women. In accordance with the Guidelines for Environmental and Social Considerations* established in 2010, Japan has provided support to ensure that partner countries have given appropriate environmental and social considerations to avoid or minimize the potential undesirable impacts of development cooperation projects on the environment and local communities. These efforts lead to ensuring transparency, predictability, and accountability related to environmental and social considerations.

Japan also gives consideration to make sure that its development policies do not have an undesirable impact on local communities, in particular, on those who are prone to becoming socially vulnerable, such as the poor, women, ethnic minorities, and persons with disabilities. For example, JICA announced the new Guidelines for Environmental and Social Considerations in 2010, and follows the guidelines to ensure that due consideration is given to environmental and social factors in its preliminary studies, environmental reviews, and monitoring at the implementation stage (verification of target achievement status).

(3) Anti-Corruption

The Development Cooperation Charter also includes new principles for securing appropriateness including preventing fraud and corruption.

Since Japan's ODA is funded by taxpayers' money, fraudulent practices associated with ODA projects are inexcusable. Those practices will not only disturb the appropriate and effective implementation of development cooperation, but also undermine public trust in ODA projects.

The Government of Japan and JICA have taken various measures to prevent the recurrence of fraudulent practices, including increasing the maximum period for bid suspended measures. However, even in recent years, such fraudulent practices related to ODA project still exist, and therefore there is a need for the Government of Japan and JICA to take further action.

In response to the detection of fraudulent practices involving an ODA loan project in Bangladesh in 2017, the Government of Japan and JICA took measures against the corporation that had undertaken the fraudulent practices to suspend its eligibility for participation in ODA projects for a fixed period of time.

To prevent such fraudulent practices, it is necessary to ensure that organizations are aware that those practices will be found and severe penalties will be imposed. Therefore, in light of practices, the Government of Japan and JICA have taken measures to enhance its monitoring systems, including strengthening the function of the Consultation Desk on Anti-Corruption and expanding third-party checks, etc., as well as measures to reinforce penalties, including raising the amount of penalty charges for breaching contracts and introduction of a point-deduction system on corporations that repeatedly engage in serious fraudulent practices, etc.

The Government of Japan will continue to take firm steps to prevent fraudulent practices in cooperation with JICA, under the strong resolve that fraudulent practices in association with ODA project are unacceptable.

(4) Securing the Safety of People Involved in International Cooperation Projects

The security situations are complex in developing countries where not only the JICA staff, experts and volunteers but also a variety of people involved in international cooperation projects including consultants, contractors and NGOs are working. The situations differ from country to country, and are constantly changing.

In response to the terrorist attack in Dhaka in July 2016, MOFA and JICA together with the relevant ministries and experts, reviewed safety measures for people involved in international cooperation projects, and released the new safety measures (the Final Report) in August the same year. Taking into account the recent international situation, this Final Report recognized that “safety is no longer free of cost” and it has become essential for the top of their organizations to take the lead in taking safety measures. In order to secure the safety of a wider range of people involved in international cooperation projects and NGOs, the report put together the following measures: (i) strengthening the collection, analysis, and sharing of threat information; (ii) code of conduct of project partners and NGOs; (iii) physical and non-physical protective measures, and strengthening training and drills; (iv) post-crisis response; and (v) raising crisis management awareness and improving organizational structure of MOFA and JICA. After the release of the report, MOFA and JICA made the “Council on Safety Measures for International Cooperation Projects” a permanent council with the attendance from governments, companies, and NGOs. The council has convened four meetings to date, and the new safety measures have been steadily implemented.

*Guidelines for Environmental and Social Considerations
“Environmental and social considerations” refer to taking into consideration the adverse impacts that a project could have on environmental and social aspects, such as impact on air, water, soil, and nature including ecosystem, flora, and fauna, as well as the involuntary resettlement of people. The Guidelines for Environmental and Social Considerations assist JICA in conducting necessary studies and avoid or minimize adverse impacts of their ODA projects when the aforementioned adverse impacts are anticipated. The Guidelines are also intended to assist JICA to support and ensure that ODA recipient countries can give appropriate environmental and social considerations in order to avoid unacceptable adverse impacts on their countries.