Official Development Assistance (ODA)

Introduction: Significance of Japan’s International Cooperation

The total amount of Japan’s Official Development Assistance (ODA) gross disbursements in 2018 was approximately $1,725.001 million (¥1,905.1 billion). Although there are various issues to address, such as the low birth rate, aging population, disaster recovery and disaster risk reduction, why does Japan support developing countries through ODA?

Out of around 7 billion people in the world, over 700 million people are living on less than $1.90 (¥200) a day, according to the World Bank. They barely survive without enough food or drinking water, or cannot go to school even if they want to, or to the hospital when they are sick. When there are people in need, we must help each other. The same is true between countries.

After World War II, Japan came back from the ruins and became a developed country. Japan received support from the United States and other developed countries as well as international organizations such as the World Bank in the course of reconstruction and economic growth. Basic infrastructures, which were essential for the reconstruction and development of Japan including the Tokaido Shinkansen, the Tomei Expressway, the Kurobe Dam, and the Aichi Canal Project, were built using such support. In return, Japan has been providing its support to developing countries by utilizing ODA. There are high expectations for Japan from various countries around the world in this regard.

Global issues, such as climate change, natural disasters, environmental problems, infectious diseases and refugees, are getting more serious and their impacts are spreading all over the world. In 2015, the United Nations adopted the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), and the international community has been promoting initiatives to build a society where “no one will be left behind” by 2030. Under this situation, helping others will eventually help you. For example, cooperating for a certain country to reduce greenhouse gas emissions or marine plastic litter will lead to improving the environment surrounding Japan. As a result of industrialization supported by Japan, octopus and salmon from developing countries are exported to Japan and served in our daily meals. However, it is also true that we are exposed to threats such as natural disasters, climate change, transnational terrorism and infectious diseases. We must cooperate with various stakeholders around the world and tackle these issues.

Over 65 years have passed since Japan started to provide ODA. The support and human resources development in various fields that Japan has provided to developing countries through ODA have led to their current trust in Japan. It can be said that this trust has had a considerable role in gathering much support from various countries in Japan’s campaigns to host the 2020 Tokyo Olympic and Paralympic Games and the Expo 2025 Osaka, Kansai. Since ODA is implemented using precious tax funds, it should be appropriately utilized and put to use for developing countries. Japan will continue to provide development cooperation to address global issues so that such effort will enhance Japan’s peace, security, and prosperity.

We should be reminded that Japan achieved its economic growth by receiving support from the international community after WWII!