Diplomatic Bluebook 2001
Chapter II. JAPAN'S FOREIGN POLICY IN MAJOR DIPLOMATIC FIELDS
SECTION 3. DEVELOPMENT ISSUES AND ODA
B. Japan's Development Cooperation Efforts
In recent years, however, many Japanese have become critical of Japan's official development assistance (ODA) due to the severe domestic economic and fiscal conditions. According to the Public Opinion Survey on Foreign Policy conducted by the Prime Minister's Office, nearly 70 percent of the Japanese public still supports Japanese ODA at least to some extent. However, the percentage of respondents who believe that ODA expenditures should be reduced as much as possible or stopped altogether has increased from about 10 percent a decade ago to about 30 percent today. Besides these reluctant views, those people who do recognize the importance of ODA are calling more and more for greater transparency and full accountability in Japan's ODA.
In the process of drafting Japan's FY 2001 budget, there were some calling for reducing ODA spending by as much as 30 percent from the previous fiscal year. Following extensive discussions, the total ODA budget in the government draft budget for FY 2001 decreased by 3 percent from the previous fiscal year. Nevertheless, the government must humbly listen to these calls, and implement ODA in a manner that is appropriate and effective, and on a prioritized and strategic basis. The government must also persuasively explain to the public that maintaining and strengthening Japan's ODA is both directly and indirectly in accordance with the national interest.
Japan is presently pursuing the following far-reaching reforms in order to implement ODA with the understanding and support of the public. (See Chapter I, D-3 and Chapter III, Section 1-D for information on Japan's economic cooperation to China, India, and Pakistan.)
a) Enhancing Transparency and Efficiency
As part of the measures to increase the transparency and enhance the programming of Japan's ODA, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs has been compiling Country Assistance Programs for individual major recipient countries following the Medium-Term Policy on Official Development Assistance announced in August 1999. These programs stipulate the guidelines for Japan's assistance policy for each country over a period of about five years, giving due consideration to the respective socioeconomic conditions and development agenda in each developing country, as well as the stances taken by other donors and international organizations. The Ministry has already published the programs for nine countries, including Thailand and Vietnam.
Moreover, as part of the government's overall administrative reforms, as of 2001, in order to ensure better consistency among all Japanese ODA programs, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs has been given responsibility for coordinating the planning by all relevant government ministries and agencies regarding the common policies of ODA as a whole, and for coordinating the planning and drafting of technical cooperation and loan aid. The Ministry of Foreign Affairs has also been given jurisdiction over the yen loans provided by the Japan Bank for International Cooperation (JBIC). Prior to this, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs established the ODA Inter-Ministerial Consultative Meeting as a venue for coordinating ODA with all the relevant government ministries and agencies.
b) Review of Yen Loans
In August 2000, the Council on the Yen Loan Scheme, a consultative committee of the Director-General of the Economic Cooperation Bureau (Ministry of Foreign Affairs), released a report which contains recommendations to the Ministry toward the reform of the yen loan scheme. This report suggests 26 specific measures, including selectively extending yen loans, reducing poverty, promoting economic growth, actively participating in aid donor coordination, making an intellectual contribution to nation-building efforts by developing countries, and improving accountability and public relations. The Ministry of Foreign Affairs is now examining these proposals toward their concrete implementation in coordination with the other relevant ministries and agencies and with the Japan Bank for International Cooperation among others.
c) Toward Improving the Assistance Evaluation System
In light of the increased need to improve ODA evaluation by shifting from project-level evaluation to country-level and program-level evaluation as well as theme-specific evaluation such as poverty and environment, the ODA Evaluation Working Group was established under the ODA Evaluation Reviewing Panel, an advisory body to the Director-General of the Economic Cooperation Bureau. After comprehensive studies, the Group submitted in March to the Minister of Foreign Affairs, the Report on the Reform of Japan's ODA Evaluation System. This report recommends initiatives such as shifting from project-level evaluation to program-level and policy-level evaluation, establishment of a consistent evaluation system from ex ante evaluation to ex post evaluation, promotion of information disclosure and public relations activities utilizing the Internet, establishment of an ODA Evaluation Study Group, development of human resources and a network of evaluators, and establishment of an evaluation feedback system. Based on these recommendations, the ODA Evaluation Study Group and the Japan Evaluation Society were established in July and September, respectively.
Strengthening public participation in ODA by creating opportunities for interaction between the public and private sectors is extremely important in securing greater public support for ODA, enhancing the effectiveness of Japan's development assistance, and reinforcing the country's emergency humanitarian assistance.
In terms of promoting collaboration with non-governmental organizations (NGOs), in addition to the existing support measures, in August 1999 the government introduced "Support Measures for Emergency Humanitarian Assistance Projects by Japanese NGOs" for the purposes of expanding the amount and the range of assistance, expediting procedures, and improving convenience through lump-sum payments based on approximate expense projections. The Ministry of Foreign Affairs' FY 2000 budget included 500 million yen in Assistance for NGOs' Emergency Relief Activities.
Also, in August 2000, NGOs, the Japan Federation of Economic Organizations (Keidanren), and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs jointly established "Japan Platform," which provides a common platform for closer coordination and cooperation among NGOs, the government, the private sector, foundations, the media, and other concerned parties to promote emergency humanitarian assistance activities. The Ministry of Foreign Affairs will actively cooperate with and participate in this initiative, for example, by providing financial assistance to the money pool of its NGO Unit to enable Japanese NGOs to deploy swift and effective initial-stage relief activities, and by offering assistance for human resources development and capacity building at NGOs.
Furthermore, Japan provides support for wide-ranging NGO activities in the social development field, and the government's NGO assistance is by no means limited to emergency humanitarian relief. In addition to assistance to projects, in FY 1999, the government initiated Capacity Building Support toward reinforcing the organizational structures and bases of Japanese NGOs. Capacity Building Support has three systems as its pillars: the consultant service program, the study group support program, and the technical advisor program.
Japan strives to promote public participation in assistance not only by strengthening collaboration with NGOs, but also by fortifying collaboration with the private sector by expanding volunteering systems such as the Japan Overseas Cooperation Volunteers (JOCV) and the Senior Volunteer programs, collaborating with local authorities, introducing special yen loans, and recruiting expert personnel from the private sector.
With the environment surrounding development cooperation changing significant, the key to implementing highly effective and visible Japanese aid is to secure and actively foster excellent assistance personnel who can respond to more knowledge-based, diversified, and sophisticated needs for assistance.
As a measure to help secure and foster younger generations of human resources for development assistance, in April 2000 the Foundation for Advanced Studies on International Development (FASID) and the National Graduate Institute for Policy Studies (GRIPS) jointly commenced a Master's Program in International Development Studies at GRIPS. In addition, the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) provides the Associate Specialist Program which enables young people with international experience, such as working for JOCV, to have two years of practical training in Japan and then to be dispatched overseas as experts or in other roles for one year.
Given Japan's current harsh economic and fiscal conditions, it is now extremely important that the government exert every effort to provide sufficient access to government information thereby achieving accountability and to make appropriate public relations efforts both domestically and abroad in order to gain understanding and support from the public, the taxpayers.
To these ends, in FY 1999 the government introduced the ODA Citizen-Monitor Program whereby members of the public monitor Japan's ODA projects on site. Other efforts include publicizing information via the Internet, the public announcement of candidate multi-year yen loan projects to specific recipients (the "long list"), and the disclosure of bidding and ordering information concerning grant aid and yen loan projects. The government is also working to promote understanding in recipient countries, by such means as using Japan's ODA logo, and to provide support for development education within Japan.
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