2. Japan’s International Cooperation (ODA and Response to Global Issues)
In 2011, the warm-hearted support from the international community in response to the Great East Japan Earthquake in March made Japan recognize anew the ties connecting it with the rest of the world. To respond to the solidarity demonstrated by the world, as well as to help build a peaceful and stable world that Japan requires, Japan needs to make proactive contribution to the peace and stability of the international community at an even greater level than before, through faithful implementation of its international commitments regarding ODA. Japan has steadily been fulfilling the international commitment it has made, including the efforts toward achieving the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) by the deadline of 2015; supporting the African region where MDGs efforts are behind schedule; and assistance to Afghanistan and Pakistan, both of which are very important to peace and stability of the international community.
Saint Bernard Town (Southern Leyte, hit by massive mudslide in 2006) started fund-raising activities to return the
favor to Japan which gave assistance to the town after the disaster in 2006. “The amount may be small, but we want
to show our gratitude to Japan”, the mayor says. (Philippines)
With regard to Asian nations, with whom Japan has close relations, Japan has implemented assistance centered on infrastructural development such as transportation networks. In response to the flooding damage in Thailand and countries in its vicinity, Japan has provided emergency assistance such as dispatching Japan Disaster Relief Expert Teams and conducted disaster-prevention and recovery assistance such as formulating a new master plan for flood control measures. In response to the so-called “Arab Spring” that has spread across the Middle East and North Africa, Japan is proactively supporting the reform efforts of each country in that region, including efforts to achieve the transition to the stable systems in those countries.
ODA is an important means of expressing Japan’s gratitude to the solidarity shown by the international community in response to the Great East Japan Earthquake. At the same time, it plays an important role to advance an open reconstruction of Japan in cooperation with the international community for a quick reconstruction from the earthquake. The ODA will continue to be utilized for the reconstruction of affected areas and Japan’s economy. For example, supplying products of affected areas through ODA to developing countries on the basis of their needs accelerates the reconstruction of industries in the areas and counter reputational damages. In addition, through resuming Private Sector Investment Finance by the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA), promoting public-private partnerships including assistance to SMEs, and expanding the scope of countries and fields eligible for ODA loans, it has been an important challenge of Japan’s ODA to support overseas infrastructure development by Japanese firms and to combine the economic growth of both developing countries and Japan.
To carry out such international cooperation actively and steadily, public understanding and support is essential. For this purpose, it is important to involve various actors such as Japanese companies including SMEs, NGOs, and local governments in ODA projects to deepen their understanding of the importance of ODA as well as to fully mobilize their skills and knowledge. It is also important to enhance the efficiency and transparency of aid. Thus the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Japan has formulated Country Assistance Policies for each recipient country and established the new Development Project Accountability Committee as a forum for exchanging opinions with the experts. Furthermore, the website called “the ODA Visibility” was established to make the current status and achievement of all the ODA projects in principle visible on the websites of the Ministry and JICA, to release information systematically.
In recent years emerging countries are rapidly playing large roles in the field of development, and there is a renewed recognition of the roles played by the private sector in developing countries in terms of their economic growth. In light of such structural changes of the aid in the international community, there is a need for traditional donor countries, including Japan, to conduct effective aid in cooperation with diverse aid-relating parties. Development is discussed as one of the key agenda items in the G20, whose membership includes emerging counties, and the first Ministerial Meeting on Development was held in 2011. In the Fourth High Level Forum on Aid Effectiveness held in November include approximately 160 countries, international institutions, and NGOs and other members of the private sector took part, and they reached an agreement on the final outcome document that pointed out the importance of the transparency and results of aid and called for efforts such as toward the construction of a framework for cooperation involving diverse aid-relating parties. While cooperating to organize this forum, Japan also actively took part in discussions as a major donor country to formulate this final document.
Japan has also been tackling global issues. As globalization is rapidly progressing, the threats to human security, namely the threats to people’s survival, livelihoods, and dignity, are diversifying and intensifying. Those threats include the internationalization of domestic conflicts, terrorism, the spread of infectious diseases, issues of human trafficking and refugees accompanying the expansion of migration, economic crises, spread of poverty-related problems, environmental and climate-change issues, and natural disasters. In order to respond to such issues, it is necessary to strengthen cooperation in the international community toward the achievement of the shared goals including the MDGs and realization of sustainable development. Considering that the achievement of the MDGs is necessary to attain human security, Japan continues to make proactive contributions and is leading the efforts in the international community. Japan is also playing a leading role in discussions on the Post MDGs, the international development framework beyond 2015, (the year 2015 is the deadline to achieve the MDGs) Japan believes that the international community should establish a set of shared goals and work together beyond 2015. Furthermore, considering the transition to green economy that can balance economic growth and environmental protection to be an important issue for realization of sustainable growth worldwide, Japan contributed actively to the discussions in fora such as the United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development (Rio+20).
On the subject of global environment, the Tenth Meeting of the Conference of the Parties (COP10) to the Convention on Biological Diversity, which was held in Nagoya in 2010, was able to achieve important results such as adopting the “Nagoya Protocol” and the Aichi Biodiversity Targets.
Despite the great national crisis of the Great East Japan Earthquake, Japan has made clear to the international community that its position to address the efforts on climate change is unwavering and continues proactive efforts in this area. Amid difficult negotiations in the Seventeenth Conference of the Parties (COP17) to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, Japan was able to achieve considerable results by contributing proactively to the debate, as the conference was able to make progress toward a future framework, reflecting Japan’s proposals. At the COP17, Japan announced “Japan’s Vision and Actions toward Low Carbon Growth and a Climate Resilient World” to effectively address global warming, and regional cooperation is being advanced through practical efforts under this vision such as formulating a strategy regarding low-carbon growth in Africa and advancing “East Asia Low Carbon Growth Partnership”. Through such efforts, Japan will make active contributions toward the achievement of low-carbon growth worldwide.
There has been a growing international debate on issues such as environment, opening of shipping routes, and development of natural resources in the Arctic Region. Recognizing the need to be appropriately involved in such debate, Japan is strengthening its participation in international discussions regarding the Arctic Region, such as submitting a formal application for permanent observer status at the Arctic Council. Furthermore, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Japan has established the Arctic Task Force (ATF) in order to make a cross-sectoral approach towards Japan’s foreign policy on the Arctic and to advance appropriate policies. In addition to sharing the related information and exchanging opinions regularly, ATF holds study meetings on the Arctic region.
Concerning Antarctica, the Antarctic Treaty adopted in 1959 stipulate Antarctica as the area south of 60 degrees South Latitude and introduces basic principles in the area such as (1) the use of Antarctica for peaceful purpose, (2) international cooperation and freedom of scientific investigation, and (3) freeze on territorial rights and claims. Japan is promoting research and observation activities in Antarctica in accordance with these basic principles and is striving to preserve the environment of Antarctica based on the Protocol on Environmental Protection to the Antarctic Treaty adopted under the Antarctic Treaty in 1991, and is contributing to the maintenance of the Antarctic Treaty System.
The international community holds high interest in and expectations at Japan’s scientific and space technologies, which rank at the highest level in the world. The Fourth Science and Technology Basic Plan, approved by the Cabinet in August 2011, stipulates the need for new development of science and technology diplomacy. To advance science and technology of Japan and the world as a whole, to achieve sustainable growth and to resolve global issues, Japan is actively making efforts in enhancing science and technology cooperation through bilateral joint committees, dispatch of scientists and experts, and multilateral cooperation in fields such as nuclear fusion. In the field of outer space, Japan is advancing cooperation in various areas with the U.S. and contributing actively to the creation of international norms to develop a safe space environment in order to address the rapid increase of space debris.