Diplomatic Bluebook 2015

Chapter 3

Japan’s Foreign Policy to Promote National and Worldwide Interests

Section 2 Japan’s International Cooperation —ODA and Response to Global Issues


Strategic Utilization of ODA and Development Cooperation Charter

The year 2014 was a milestone year marking 60 years since Japan commenced Official Development Assistance (ODA) by joining the Colombo Plan in 1954 shortly after the end of WWII. Over the years, Japan’s ODA has made significant contributions to the peace, stability, and prosperity of the international community, and by extension, to the security and prosperity of Japan itself.

In February 2015, the Government of Japan revised the ODA Charter, the basic document on Japan’s ODA policy, and newly established the Development Cooperation Charter, in order to adapt to the changes in Japan and the international community, while continuing to take the path that Japan’s ODA has followed over the past 60 years. Japan’s ODA which spans a 60-year period is an embodiment of the sincere efforts implemented by Japan, as a responsible nation of the international community, to resolve the issues facing the international community through cooperation for non-military purposes. In today’s world, which is seeing further deepening interdependency, it is essential to create a peaceful, stable, and prospering international community, and, in this process, build solid and mutually beneficial relationships between Japan and various actors in the international community in terms of ensuring the peace, stability, and prosperity of Japan.

Contributing to the growth of developing countries through ODA leads to taking in the dynamic growth of developing countries, and thereby, revitalizing the Japan’s economy. The Infrastructure Systems Export Strategy (revised in June 2014) sets out that ODA will be utilized strategically in helping Japanese companies expand their overseas operations. The Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MOFA) implements initiatives in conjunction with related ministries and agencies through the effective utilization of frameworks, including the Ministerial Meeting on Strategy relating Infrastructure Export and Economic Cooperation (established in March 2013). In 2014, the world was faced with serious situations, such as the outbreak of the Ebola virus disease in West Africa as well as humanitarian crises, including the rise of displaced persons and refugees in the Middle East caused by the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL), among other factors. Under such circumstances, it was a year that reaffirmed the importance of ODA in supporting all those who truly need assistance. Under the concept of human security, one of the characteristics of Japan’s ODA, cooperation is designed to help people live their lives with dignity, being free from fear and want. This concept is further made clear in the new Development Cooperation Charter, which identifies it as a guiding principle of Japan’s development cooperation that manifests the noble philosophy inherent in human beings.

Response to Global Issues

While globalization has resulted in dramatic economic and societal development worldwide, it has also brought about diverse threats to human security that transcend national borders. The challenges of conflict, terrorism, disasters, global environmental issues such as climate change, global health issues including infectious diseases, human trafficking, refugee problems, labor issues, and economic crises cannot be addressed by one country alone. The international community must work together while keeping in mind human security. For these global issues, 2015 in particular is a milestone year as new frameworks will be established. The international community is put to the test of whether it will succeed in developing such frameworks.

2014 was a year in which progress was made on the discussions for the establishment of frameworks in 2015 in those areas. With regard to disaster risk reduction in which Japan has experience and knowhow as a disaster-prone country, the Third UN World Conference on Disaster Risk Reduction will be held in Sendai City in March 2015. In the lead-up to the Conference, negotiations have commenced on the post-Hyogo Framework of Action that will serve as the new international guidelines on disaster risk reduction. Japan led these discussions as the host country of the Conference and as an advanced country in disaster risk reduction.

Furthermore, 2015 is the deadline for the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs). Discussions are thus under way towards the establishment of international development goals beyond 2015 (post-2015 development agenda). In addition to the goals, the means of implementing them also present challenges. As interest in sustainable development increases, Japan has contributed to the discussions by drawing on its experience and knowhow, including hosting the UNESCO World Conference on Education for Sustainable Development (ESD) in November 2014. Regarding discussions on health, steady achievements have been made in mainstreaming universal health coverage (UHC).

In the area of climate change, the end of 2015 will mark the deadline for reaching agreement on a new international framework which will be applicable to all Parties. On the occasion of the UN Climate Summit in New York in September 2014, Prime Minister Shinzo Abe announced “Adaptation Initiative” to support the adaptive capacity of developing countries in a holistic manner. That November, Japan announced that it would contribute up to 1.5 billion US dollars to the Green Climate Fund (GCF), which supports developing countries reduce greenhouse gas emissions and adapt to the impacts of climate change.

It is vital that Japan actively takes part in international discussions in this manner in order to establish international frameworks that reflect the view of Japan. Japan works with various countries, international organizations, the civil society, and other stakeholders to promote human security and to work proactively towards finding solutions to global issues.

Arctic issues are coming up for debate in the international arena, as changes in the Arctic environment have brought about new possibilities such as the use of the Arctic Sea Routes and the development of natural resources, and at the same time it is pointed out that the acceleration of the global warming and serious impact on the vulnerable natural environment of the Arctic could also be caused by these changes. Japan gained observer status of the Arctic Council (AC) in May 2013 and has been contributing more actively to AC’s activities by making use of the scientific knowledge it has accumulated over the years. In addition, Japan communicates its views and activities related to the Arctic in a proactive manner at various bilateral and multilateral fora, including those other than AC related ones.

Science and Technology Diplomacy

Science and technology constitute the foundational elements for peace and prosperity that support socioeconomic development, and furthermore, play a vital role in security. In this regard, there is a high level of international interest in and expectations for Japan’s advanced science and technology. Japan is contributing to peace and stability in the international community, resolution of global issues and further advancement in science and technology at home and abroad by enhancing relationships and cooperating with other countries through science and technology diplomacy. Japan is also striving to enhance its soft power by transmitting information as a science- and technology-based nation.