Diplomatic Bluebook 2019
Japan's Foreign Policy to Promote National and Global Interests
Section 2 Japan's International Cooperation (Development Cooperation and Response to Global Issues)
1 Development Cooperation (ODA, etc.)
(1) Development Cooperation Charter and Strategic Use of ODA
More than sixty years have passed since Japan started its Official Development Assistance (ODA)1 in 1954. Japan's development cooperation policy including ODA has greatly contributed to securing the peace, stability, and prosperity of the international community and consequently the national interests of Japan for many years.
On the other hand, the world is facing more diverse and complex challenges transcending national borders as the world becomes increasingly globalized. Furthermore, considering the growing roles of recent non-ODA public/private funds and support from emerging countries, it has become even more important to bring together the wisdom and actions of developing countries as well as developed countries and various resources apart from the central government (corporations, local governments, NGOs, etc.). In this new era, it is essential for ensuring Japan's national interests that Japan should consider development cooperation as a part of “Proactive Contribution to Peace” based on the principle of international cooperation, and strategically use ODA to address development and human rights issues while continuing to adhere to the course that Japan has taken to date as a peace-loving nation. Under the Development Cooperation Charter established based on this recognition (decided by the Cabinet in February 2015), there is a need to steadily implement the “Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs),” the development goals for the whole international community, including developed countries. Taking into consideration the recommendations made by the Advisory Board for ODA held under the leadership of Foreign Minister Kono in 2018, it is also necessary to put unremitting efforts into reviewing the approach to the implementation of ODA, so as to enable diverse entities including NGOs and corporations from the private sector, to put greater effort into resolving development issues. On top of that, it remains vital to establish a fully adequate system in order to secure the safety of Japanese people engaged in international cooperation abroad.
For Japan, development cooperation is one of the most important diplomatic tools. For 2018, in particular, Japan made use of ODA to advance cooperation with various countries with a view to maintaining and promoting a “Free and Open Indo-Pacific,” and took the opportunities of the Japan-U.S. Summit Meeting in September and the Japan-India Summit Meeting in October to present concrete examples of cooperation. With the vast demand for infrastructure that currently exists in the world, especially in Asia, it is vital to secure various elements including economic efficiency in view of life-cycle costs and debt sustainability of recipient countries which are included in the G7 Ise-Shima Principles for Promoting Quality Infrastructure Investment adopted at the G7 Ise-Shima Summit held in May 2016, as well as openness and transparency of infrastructure, and promote their international standardization. Japan will continue to contribute to the peace and prosperity of the international community while actively making use of ODA and developing quality infrastructure.
The revitalization of Japan's economy through the growth of developing countries and its growth alongside these countries is also an important issue for Japan's national interest. As described in the “Growth Strategy 2018” (revised in June 2018) and “Infrastructure Systems Export Strategy” (revised in June 2018), it is necessary to utilize ODA strategically in order to further promote the overseas expansion of Japanese companies.
Such efforts by Japan have won both high praise and trust from the international community. It is important that Japan continues and strengthens the efforts in the future so that Japan can lead the international community as a major responsible country in the world and ensure the international environment and order in line with Japan's national interests.
- 1 For details on Japan's international cooperation, refer to “Japan's International Cooperation” of White Paper on Development Cooperation.
(2) The Current Status of ODA
A FY2018 Priority Policy for Development Cooperation
From the perspective of “Proactive Contribution to Peace” based on the principle of international cooperation, development cooperation is one of the most important tools toward further contributing to securing the peace, stability and prosperity of the international community, and promoting Japan's diplomatic policies. With the aim of promoting strategic and effective development cooperation based on the Development Cooperation Charter, while also taking reference from diplomatic policies such as the promotion of a “Free and Open Indo-Pacific,” the “Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs)” and Japan's implementation guidelines for the SDGs, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MOFA) has positioned the following (items (A) to (C)) as priority issues for FY2018, and tackles these challenges while strengthening cooperation with various entities.
(A) Improving the environment and sharing fundamental values to achieve the peace, stability, and prosperity of the international community
Japan will engage in cooperation in fields such as strengthening maritime security capability and developing legal systems, in order to ensure the rule of law and freedom of navigation with a view to achieving a “Free and Open Indo-Pacific.” Japan is committed to improving connectivity within and outside the region from the Pacific to the Indian Ocean, in order to secure stability and prosperity of the region as a whole. Japan contributes proactively to the realization of peace and stability in the international community including through peacebuilding, support for refugees, countermeasures against terrorism and violent extremism, while at the same time strengthening the collaboration between humanitarian assistance and development cooperation. Japan also works to ensure the safety of Japanese nationals working abroad, such as by offering cooperation to efforts by developing countries to improve counter-terrorism measures and the security environment.
(B) Addressing global challenges and promoting human security toward achieving the SDGs
Japan promotes cooperation with various countries toward achieving the SDGs, in ways ranging from the formulation of national strategies and plans to the implementation of individual projects, in fields such as health, food, women (gender), education, disaster risk reduction and tsunami countermeasures, water and hygiene, and climate change and global environmental issues. In particular, Japan shares the experience it has built up as a developed country facing emerging challenges with the leaders of developing countries, thereby nurturing pro-Japanese groups of the future while making it possible to work together with various countries to address international issues with a more strategic approach.
(C) Contributing to economic diplomacy and regional revitalization with the aim of achieving “quality growth” alongside developing countries
Japan is involved in cooperative efforts toward the realization of “quality growth” in developing countries, and through that cooperation, Japan also contributes to the growth of Japan alongside with the developing countries, and to regional revitalization in Japan. In particular, Japan works to improve the business environment for foreign direct investment, and to support the overseas expansion of local governments and small and medium-sized enterprises, while at the same time further promoting the global expansion of “quality infrastructure,” including the promotion of “Japanese style” technology, systems, and knowhow that Japan has an edge in, such as energy-saving infrastructure, information and communications technology (ICT), and next-generation motor vehicles. Furthermore, Japan takes full advantage of human resources developed for industries in developing countries, as well as the networks that have been established through them.
In tackling priority issues (A) to (C) above, efforts are made to organically tie up the initiatives with bilateral cooperation and cooperation through international organizations. At the same time, Japan also promotes companies that enhance Japan's visibility, with the involvement of Japanese private corporations, local government bodies, universities and research institutes, and NGOs and civil society organizations (CSOs). In addition to putting effort into domestic publicity aimed at deepening understanding among the citizens toward supporting developing countries, through development cooperation, Japan also actively communicates information about Japan's initiatives and promotes them to other countries. Japan is also engaged in efforts to strengthen measures to secure the safety of those involved in international cooperation projects.
B Safety Measures for Personnel Engaged in International Cooperation Projects
In the terrorist attacks that struck Dhaka, the capital of Bangladesh, in July 2016, seven Japanese engaged in ODA lost their lives while one Japanese was injured. The Government of Japan is determined to continue supporting developing countries, and to never give in to terrorism; however, the international terrorism situation is becoming increasingly severe. To ensure the safety of Japanese personnel engaged in international cooperation abroad, it is vital to establish a new system for ensuring utmost preparedness.
From the standpoint of such awareness, the Council on Safety Measures for International Cooperation Projects was established under MOFA. After five meetings with participation from many members from the relevant ministries and agencies, the Council published its final report at the end of August 2016, which sets forth new safety measures for personnel engaged in international cooperation projects. The final report covered the safety measures that should be taken in cooperation between MOFA and JICA, with the relevant parties, in accordance with the following five pillars: (1) Strengthening the collection, analysis, and sharing of threat information; (2) Code of conduct of partners and NGOs; (3) Physical/non-physical protective measures, and strengthening training and drills; (4) Post-crisis response; and (5) Heightening crisis management awareness and improving the organizational structure of MOFA and JICA. Since then, these have been steadily implemented by MOFA and JICA.
As a responsible major power, Japan will continue to ensure the safety of personnel engaged in international cooperation projects, while contributing proactively to the peace, stability, and prosperity of the international community.
(3) Japan's Development Cooperation Performance and Approaches to Major Regions
A Japan's ODA Performance
In 2017, Japan provided approximately 18.46 billion US dollars in ODA2, 9.8% more than the previous year on a gross disbursement basis. Japan ranks third among the member states of the Development Assistance Committee of the Organisation for the Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD/DAC), following the U.S. and Germany. In terms of net disbursements generally used for international comparison, the amount was about 11.46 billion US dollars, up 10.0% from the previous year, and ranking fourth after the U.S., Germany, and the UK. The ODA/GNI ratio based on net disbursements was 0.23%, ranking 19th among member states of the DAC.
B Approaches to Major Regions
(A) Southeast Asia
The peace, stability, and prosperity in the Southeast Asian region are important to Japan, which has a close relationship with the region. Japan has helped resolve various development issues including poverty reduction, by promoting economic growth and human security in the region through development cooperation, and contributed to the development of the region.
Approximately 59.7% of the total bilateral ODA of Japan went to the Asia region in 2017. A large portion of it comprised of support for Member States of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN). Japan not only provides support toward efforts aimed at overcoming issues faced by ASEAN and further promoting integration, but also places a strong emphasis on support for the building of quality infrastructure and training of industrial human resources to strengthen regional connectivity and industrial foundation development. For example, following up from the “Industrial Human Resource Development Cooperation Initiative” that aims to train 40,000 industrial human resources in three years, including experienced technical experts, engineers, and human resources for research and development, as announced at the Japan-ASEAN Summit Meeting (Malaysia) held in November 2015, during the Japan-ASEAN Summit Meeting (Singapore) held in November 2018, Japan has announced a new plan to undertake human resource development for about 80,000 people in the next five years, including in the digital field such as AI, under the “Industrial Human Resource Development Cooperation Initiative 2.0.” In order to contribute to the strengthening of ASEAN's unity and centrality through technical cooperation, Japan also took the opportunity of the Japan-ASEAN Foreign Ministers' Meeting to confirm an agreement in principle on the Japan-ASEAN Technical Cooperation Agreement. Furthermore, for the purpose of establishing a free and open international order, Japan actively provides support for capacity building in the area of maritime law enforcement for Southeast Asian countries located along Japan's sea lanes, through such means as the provision of patrol vessels and equipment including coastal monitoring radar, and human resource development through the long-term dispatch of experts. From this perspective, Japan has been providing consistent support of 15 billion Japanese yen over two years through a comprehensive approach to improve security in the southern part of the Philippines and the Sulu-Celebes Seas, as announced at the East Asia Summit (EAS) held in the Philippines in November 2017. In addition, Japan is also providing consistent support to eradicate domestic and regional disparity, and support for the creation of a sustainable society in areas including disaster risk reduction, environment and climate change, and energy.
At the 10th Mekong-Japan Summit Meeting held in Tokyo in October 2018, Japan summarized the results of the New Tokyo Strategy 2015 and the Japan-Mekong Connectivity Initiative adopted at the Mekong-Japan Summit Meeting held three years ago, and announced its aim to further advance cooperation with the Mekong region in line with the Tokyo Strategy 2018, which sets out future guidelines for Japan-Mekong cooperation. By strengthening connectivity from three aspects: the hardware aspect that includes promoting “Quality Infrastructure,” the software aspect that includes cooperation in the digital field, and the industrial aspect that includes promoting investment and developing special economic zones, Japan aims to continue to contribute to the realization of “vibrant and effective connectivity” in the Mekong region.
- 2 The main forms of ODA from Japan are: grant aid, namely, bilateral fund donations; loan aid for development in developing regions; technical cooperation; and donations or contributions to international organizations. Of these, loan aid for development accounts for the largest percentage. Loan aid for development is typically repaid with interest.
Completed the handover ceremony for a yen loan project for the expansion of an existing airport building
Masaaki Takahashi, Port & Airport Department,
Transportation & Urban Development Division, International Consulting Operations, Nippon Koei Co., Ltd.
Japan concluded a yen loan contract worth 9.017 billion yen in 2014 for a project that addresses rapidly growing demand at the Vientiane Wattay International Airport in the capital city of Laos, and started expansion of the international passenger terminal building, construction of a new domestic passenger terminal building, and work on related facilities (parking lot, airport road, and guidance lights). The implementing agency was the Ministry of Public Works and Transport's Department of Civil Aviation (DCA). The project consultants were Nippon Koei Co.Ltd., Azusa Sekkei Co.Ltd. and Lao Consulting Group. Hazama Ando Corporation began construction work in December 2015. I performed project manager as a representative of the main consulting firm. The core policy for the project was continuation of airport operations with a careful approach to enhance stakeholder's convenience, efficiency, and safety. In simple terms, a project manager's job is overall supervision and management of the project. During the peak phase in the second half of 2017, project work took place continuously day or night, 24-hour-a-day, and involved up to 1,200 people. Water leaked on the second-floor renovation and soaked some airline offices on the first floor directly below during renovation work on the existing building, calling into question the management responsibility of both the builder and consultants. Intensive workdays continued to ensure smooth construction. Besides having to make steadfast efforts to manage the project, one of my major tasks as the consulting project manager was to provide updates to high ranking officials. In 2018 alone, I provided a briefing on the construction to Foreign Minister Kono (April 7) and JICA Executive Senior Vice President Koshikawa (May 16), as well as State Minister for Foreign Affairs Nakane, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Finance Somdy, and Minister of Public Works and Transport Bounchanh at the handover ceremony on August 9. It was very rewarding to listen to comments and receive words of appreciation and encouragement from each official. I intend to continue contributing to gaining greater approval from customers and society, and help further expand our overseas airport business.
Aiming for a world-class international airport.
Lao-Japan Airport Terminal Services Co., Ltd. (L-JATS), Vice President, Koshi Hayashi
L-JATS, which operates the international passenger terminal at Vientiane Wattay International Airport, located in the capital city of Laos, was established in 1999 as a joint venture between the Government of Laos and a Japanese company, and has been running the terminal building for about 20 years. This is the first privatization project of overseas airport terminal operation that a Japanese company has worked on. Furthermore, a basic agreement has been reached on extending the operation contract for ten years from March 2019 to March 2029. This airport expansion project is to address increasing demand from the steadily growing number of passengers at the airport. L-JATS aims to further enhance and expand facilities and improve passenger service in order to make this an excellent and pleasant international airport that can be a source of pride as the country's capital city airport.
Specifically, various works are scheduled to be implemented one by one through to next year, including large-scale renovation of restaurants, cafés, bars, and other related sites as well as duty-free shops, convenience stores, and gift shops, new construction of a lounge, and a new parking area to alleviate congestion in front of the terminal building. My sincere hope is that direct flights from Japan will begin service in the near future to provide more opportunities for many Japanese people to learn about the attractive tourism sites in Laos as soon as possible.
(B) Southwest Asia
Southwest Asia holds strategic importance as a marine transportation hub that connects East Asia with the Middle East, and is also a region with countries that have immense economic potential, such as India. It is also increasingly drawing interest from Japanese companies as an export and investment destination. On the other hand, the region is still confronted by many unresolved issues such as undeveloped infrastructure and poverty. While also keeping in mind improving the investment environment for Japanese companies and human security, Japan provides a range of assistance through ODA to assist the region in overcoming these challenges.
With regard to India, on the occasion of Prime Minister Modi's visit to Japan in October 2018, notes concerning the provision of ODA loan were exchanged, related to seven projects including the construction of the Mumbai-Ahmedabad High Speed Rail, and the construction of a bridge in India's North Eastern Region. Prime Minister Modi expressed his gratitude for the ODA provided by Japan, while Prime Minister Abe expressed Japan's intentions to continue supporting India's efforts for social and industrial development, including through key quality infrastructure projects and capacity building.
With regard to Bangladesh, alongside with the deterioration of humanitarian conditions in camps for displaced persons from the northern part of the Rakhine state of Myanmar as a result of the large-scale influx of displaced persons over a short period of time, the situation has also had a severe impact on the living environment of the surrounding host communities. In response to this situation, Japan provided support through international organizations and NGOs in the areas of water and hygiene, health and medical care, education, and environmental conservation. Japan is also actively offering cooperation under the Bay of Bengal Industrial Growth Belt (BIG-B) initiative, in areas such as strengthening connectivity and improving the investment environment.
With regard to Sri Lanka, on the occasion of President Sirisena's visit to Japan in March, Prime Minister Abe announced that Japan will work to strengthen connectivity, enhance cooperation in the maritime sector, and put full effort into supporting Sri Lanka's growth through the development of “Quality Infrastructure” in areas such as ports, transportation, and energy, while at the same time providing support that is rooted in the lives of Sri Lanka's citizens. The two leaders also exchanged a note on the provision of ODA for the supply of advanced medical equipment.
(C) Central Asia and the Caucasus
The Central Asia and the Caucasus are geopolitically important areas surrounded by Russia, China, South Asia, the Middle East, and Europe. Their stability and development are important for all in the whole of Eurasia, including Japan. Japan supports the “open, stable, and independent” development of Central Asia and the Caucasus region, and upholds the ideal of Japanese diplomacy that contributes to peace and stability in the region and around the world. Japan supports nation building that allows fundamental values such as human rights, democracy, market economy, and the rule of law to take root for long-term stability and sustainable development in this region, while also taking into account broad-based views covering neighboring regions including Afghanistan and Pakistan.
In September when Foreign Minister Kono visited three countries in the Caucasus region (Armenia, Georgia, and Azerbaijan), he unveiled the “Caucasus Initiative” that emphasizes support for people-development with a view to nation building, and support for the development of an attractive Caucasus region through the development of infrastructure and the business environment. This initiative is based on the concept of promoting cooperation between Japan and the Caucasus, with the aim of realizing the independent growth of the Caucasus region that plays an important role as a gateway connecting Asia and Europe.
(D) Central and South America
Central and South America has enjoyed friendly relations with Japan for a long time and have deep historical ties with Japan, as demonstrated by the fact that about 2.1 million Japanese descendants, known as “Nikkei,” reside in the region. The region is a major supplier of resources and food, as well as a potential new market with gross regional production exceeding 5 trillion US dollars. On the other hand, as many countries in the region are confronted by problems such as domestic income disparity and poverty in the agricultural and mountainous regions, Japan is engaged in various cooperative efforts while also taking into account the characteristics of each country in the Central and South America region. For example, Japan and Bolivia exchanged notes in August on the provision of Japanese grant aid toward road development in the Okinawa settlement, with the aim of improving logistics in Bolivia which has a road paving rate of 8.5%. In September, Japan exchanged notes with Ecuador on a dollar-denominated loan to support projects such as the establishment of legal and institutional frameworks for expanding and strengthening national power transmission and distribution networks, and promoting energy conservation, through the Co-financing for Renewable Energy and Energy Efficiency (CORE) program implemented jointly with the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB). Japan also exchanged notes with Suriname, and Saint Vincent and the Grenadines (in October) on the provision of a grant for fishery equipment to contribute to the sustainable development of the fisheries industry, and with Paraguay (in December) on the provision of a grant for medical equipment to improve health and medical services.
Central and South America is also highly vulnerable to natural disasters, and tackling these problems is a challenge. For example, Japan exchanged notes with Cuba and Haiti in February and October respectively to provide grant aids for made-in-Japan equipment related to the development of road, parks and infrastructure, with the aim of contributing to their recovery and reconstruction from the large-scale hurricane damage that the two countries have been faced with in recent years, as well as to improving their ability to cope with such disasters. As for Chile, Japan aims to undertake the development of human resources (target of 4,000 people) who can contribute to disaster risk reduction in Central and South America, through the KIZUNA Project (Disaster Risk Reduction Training Program for Latin America and the Caribbean) and based on the Japan-Chile Partnership Program (JCPP) 2030, a trilateral cooperation program for disaster risk reduction and other areas.
(E) The Middle East
Securing peace and stability in the Middle East and North Africa regions, which are key geopolitical regions, is crucial not only for the energy security of Japan but also for the stability of the world. From these standpoints, Japan has steadily provided comprehensive support at a sum of about 6 billion US dollars to stabilize the Middle East, as it announced at the G7 Ise-Shima Summit in 2016, with a view to achieving peace and stability in the region.
With regard to Syria, where civil war has been ongoing, Foreign Minister Kono announced during the UN General Assembly in September the provision of support of about 10 million US dollars to strengthen the health sector, with the aim of helping to cope with the humanitarian crisis in Syria. Furthermore, Japan decided in December to provide humanitarian recovery support through the United Nations Development Program (UNDP). From 2017 to March 2019, 57 students have arrived in Japan for fostering human resources expected to contribute to the recovery of Syria in the future.
To support the stability of Jordan, which is accepting a large number of Syrian refugees, Prime Minister Abe took the opportunity of his visit to Jordan in May 2018 to announce support toward improving the health and hygiene environment of refugees and improving the waste disposal system. During the visit by King Abdullah II of Jordan to Japan in November, the two leaders agreed on the implementation of support for improving Jordan's fiscal situation.
Based on the Corridor for Peace and Prosperity initiative that is implemented through cooperation between Japan, Israel, Palestine, and Jordan with the aim of promoting economic and social development for Palestine, Japan is engaged in efforts to develop the Jericho Agro-Industrial Park (JAIP). The progress in these efforts were welcomed by the participants at a meeting of the Four-Party Consultative Unit hosted by Foreign Minister Kono in April 2018, Prime Minister Abe also visited JAIP in May and inspected the products of the companies in operation (See Special Feature “Japan's Assistance for Palestine (JAIP, CEAPAD)”).
Human resource development is vital to realize stability in the Middle East in the medium- to long-term, and the “Kono Four Principles” which sets out Japan's basic policy toward the Middle East, also highlights the importance of investing in people. In February 2018, Japan decided to provide an ODA loan for promoting the introduction of Japanese-style education in Egypt. Since September, new Egypt-Japan schools that adopt Japanese-style education have been opened, and such cooperation programs were also highly appraised by Foreign Minister Shoukry of Egypt during his visit to Japan in October.
In Yemen, where the crisis is still ongoing, Japan is cooperating with international organizations to provide humanitarian support such as food aid. To support the reconstruction effort by Afghanistan, Japan is providing assistance to encourage the growth of a self-reliant economy and poverty reduction in the country. Attending the Geneva Conference on Afghanistan in November, State Minister for Foreign Affairs Sato introduced Japan's assistance provided to Afghanistan in 2018 in the areas of health, agriculture, and irrigation. He also announced Japan's decision to provide emergency grant aid of 13 million US dollars to help Afghanistan tackle drought.
Africa has been gradually recovering from the economic depression caused by the rapid drop in resource prices around 2014, and backed by its abundant natural resources and a rapidly growing population, continues to attract the attention and anticipation of the international community as a potential market. The Tokyo International Conference on African Development (TICAD) processes that Japan has been leading for a quarter of a century since 1993 further strengthen relations between Japan and Africa, and have been highly appraised by African countries. At TICAD VI held in August 2016, Japan announced that it will be investing a total of 30 billion US dollars jointly from the private and public sectors toward Africa's future, in the following three priority areas: (1) diversification and industrialization of the economy; (2) promotion of resilient health systems; and (3) stabilization of society with a view to sharing prosperity. Based on this, Japan has been steadily providing support to Africa.
For example, from the perspective of investing in “Quality Infrastructure” for the diversification and industrialization of the economy, Japan provided support for the formulation of the West Africa Growth Ring Master Plan, a wider regional development strategy, which is one of the three priority regions announced at TICAD VI. In January 2018, a seminar bringing together the relevant countries and donors was held in Abidjan, Côte d'Ivoire. Furthermore, as a part of the concrete support provided to the region, Japan agreed on providing support for the repair of major arterial roads in Ghana during the visit by President Akufo-Addo to Japan in December, and on providing support to Côte d'Ivoire for traffic facilitation in Abidjan. Japan's support for the West Africa Growth Ring and its importance were recognized in the Japan-Burkina Faso Joint Statement issued when President Kaboré of Burkina Faso visited Japan in November, and in the Japan-Ghana Joint Statement issued in December.
From the perspective of human resource development, Japan has also accepted more than 1,200 trainees to Japan through JICA under the assistance of the African Business Education Initiative for Youth (ABE initiative) since its launch in 2014 until 2018.
From the viewpoint of promoting a resilient health system, Japan decided in April 2018 to provide support to improve regional referral hospitals in Uganda. During the visit of President Lungu of Zambia to Japan in December, an agreement was concluded for Japan to provide support for the veterinary department of the University of Zambia.
As for social stabilization, Japan provided food aid, supplied security equipment, and provided support in cooperation with international organizations for large numbers of refugees and internally displaced people as a result of conflict and terrorism in the Sahel region, South Sudan, Somalia, and the surrounding countries. In addition, Japan decided to provide electoral support to Guinea-Bissau in cooperation with UNDP in December 2018.
Looking ahead to TICAD7 to be held in Yokohama in August 2019, a TICAD Ministerial Meeting was held in Tokyo in October 2018. Foreign Minister Kono, who served as co-chair of this meeting, affirmed the importance of providing assistance based on international standards such as debt sustainability. He also stated that Japan will strengthen connectivity through the development of “Quality Infrastructure” in order to achieve a “Free and Open Indo-Pacific” that connects Asia and Africa, and provide support for the transformation of Africa's economic structure as set out in the African Union's (AU) “Agenda 2063.”
Currently, the number of refugees and internally displaced persons (IDPs) has risen to the highest level since the Second World War at 68.5 million people. Humanitarian assistance needs are steadily growing. In this environment, Japan promotes efficient assistance that leverages data and advanced technologies and takes advantage of experience in development cooperation accumulated over many years to contribute to the stability and development of host regions.
Data is important for refugee assistance too! - Effective assistance to refugees and host countries based on a needs survey
Toshinori Katsumata, Special Advisor, Office for Peacebuilding and Reconstruction,
Infrastructure and Peacebuilding Department, Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA)
It has become even more important to learn and analyze challenges and needs in refugee-hosting countries and regions to alleviate burdens from rapidly increasing refugees and IDPs.
One example is JICA's data collection and a needs survey in a refugee-hosting region in the northern Uganda. JICA has started development assistance to northern Uganda since 2000s. In July 2017, in response to the massive influx of refugees from South Sudan (totaling about 800,000 people as of the end of 2018), JICA began a new survey to collect basic social infrastructure information of the region.
Based on the idea that medium and long-term development perspective needs to be incorporated into emergency humanitarian assistance for the region, JICA thoroughly surveyed social infrastructure in the region and identified the needs on the ground. Furthermore, by utilizing strong connections with local governments, ministries and agencies, JICA collected, analyzed, and integrated information on both refugees and host communities from various organizations in each region. Using such data, JICA developed integrated geographical information system (GIS) map and formulated a list of potential assistance projects.
JICA's survey results and map data were highly welcomed by the Ugandan government, local governments, international organizations, NGOs, and many development partners since it was virtually the first integrated data encompassing both refugees and host communities. Many parties in refugee-hosting areas have been utilizing the survey results and map data as basic information while collaborating and coordinating to support Uganda. Japan also considers a variety of initiatives and encourages the international community to tackle serious refugee issues as a whole, rather than leaving them to the concerned countries alone.
Utilizing blockchain technologies to assist refugees - Application of cutting-edge technology on the frontline of humanitarian assistance
Naoe Yakiya, Director, World Food Programme (WFP) Japan Relations Office
The World Food Programme (WFP) provided about 7 billion US dollars in assistance to 90 million people struggling with starvation in over 80 countries in 2017 as the world's largest humanitarian assistance agency.
Food assistance is closely linked to international security concerns amid the growing number of people suffering from starvation around the world due to conflicts and climate change. WFP's assistance goes beyond just saving lives - various support projects such as support for school meals, and livelihood and disaster prevention assistance to promote self-resilient communities are being implemented in cooperation with local governments, NGOs, and the private sector to save the futures of the affected countries.
Furthermore, with the aim of improving assistance, WFP launched an Research and Development (R&D) facility in Munich, Germany, to utilize innovative cutting-edge technologies in pursuit of completely eliminating starvation. The R&D facility calls for ideas widely from the WFP employees and the private sector.
Through this effort, WFP introduced a cash support platform that employs blockchain technologies* at a refugee camp in Jordan. The platform has reduced costs that had been previously incurred for bank transactions and enabled safe and highly transparent management of data on food purchases by refugees receiving assistance. Building on its success, in addition to the broad deployment of this technology, WFP continues its various initiatives, such as assisting market access by small farmers using an IT app, implementing R&D on agricultural products with high nutritional value that utilize hydroponic techniques, and improving the efficiency of assistance, utilizing a natural disaster early-warning system that uses a combination of AI and drones.
- * Distributed ledger (database) technology enables the handling of important data transactions over the Internet and other open networks, which requires a high level of trust. Utilization of this technology makes it possible to prevent falsification and tampering without working through a third-party entity (intermediary), which incurs costs.
Enabling humanitarian assistance effectively utilizing experiences accumulated in development cooperation - Supplying safe water to displaced persons from Myanmar (DPFM)
Ryuichi Katsuki, Programme Advisor (Agriculture, Rural Development),
Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) Bangladesh Office
Following the deterioration of conditions in Rakhine State (Myanmar) in August 2017, more than 700,000 people fled into the southern part of the Cox's Bazar District in Bangladesh, resulting in increasing the total number of DPFM in the area to over a million including those who were already there.
Thousands of shallow wells were dug to meet rapidly increased demand for water due to this unprecedented influx of people into the DPFM camp. As they were dug without any advance planning on their locations, depth and so forth, this led to various problems such as groundwater depletion and contamination by E. coli.
To improve the situation, JICA utilized well-digging equipment provided as a grant aid project by the Government of Japan and dug a well with a depth of 400 meters at the camp site for securing safe water. It was also confirmed that this deep well could steadily supply safe water appropriate for drinking.
The International Organization for Migration (IOM) and Bangladesh's Department of Public Health Engineering, which handles rural water supply, have been working on the development of a water supply with a piped network. By around April 2019, it is expected to supply safe water to about 30,000 people.
Key factors that enabled the swift commencement of this significant project were as follows: quick implementation of local needs surveys by JICA experts involved in providing technical assistance to the Department of Public Health Engineering and its officials, arrangements for a site for digging by JICA expert dispatched to the country's Ministry of Disaster Management and Relief which is responsible for DPFM acceptance and repatriation, and continuous interaction as well as other collaboration between JICA and international organizations.
JICA will continue to support initiatives by the Government of Bangladesh for both DPFM and host communities in light of the expected protraction of displaced persons issues.
(4) Approaches to Appropriate and Effective Implementation of ODA
A Approaches to Appropriate Implementation of ODA
In the implementation of ODA, efforts are made to enhance transparency by exchanging views with external experts at each phase and formulating projects based on these discussions. In the phase of preliminary studies in the implementation of ODA, MOFA holds the Development Project Accountability Committee in public and decides whether studies should be implemented upon reviews and discussions conducted with external experts. Furthermore, after the implementation of the project, JICA publishes on its website the ex-post evaluation results for all projects valued at 200 million Japanese yen or more, while ex-post evaluations are also conducted by third parties for projects valued at 1 billion Japanese yen or more. With regard to grant aid projects implemented by MOFA, an ex-post evaluation system has also been introduced since FY2017. Internal ex-post evaluations are carried out for projects over 200 million Japanese yen or more, and the results of the evaluation are published, while third-party ex-post evaluations are conducted for projects over 1 billion Japanese yen or more. The matters pointed out in such ex-post evaluations are applied to the formulation of future ODA projects.
B Approaches to Effective Implementation of ODA
ODA is implemented through three frameworks corresponding to the needs of the partner country and the scale of the project: grant aid, loan aid, and technical cooperation. In order to utilize the limited budget efficiently and achieve a high level of development, MOFA and JICA take into account the needs of the partner country, establish priority areas of cooperation for each country, and formulate projects that contribute to these areas while going beyond the boundaries of each framework. For example, in Sri Lanka, seasonal torrential rains from the monsoon pose a serious problem causing landslides and the collapse of steep slopes particularly in mountainous and hilly regions. To resolve this problem, Japan provides support through Grant Aid for the development of a meteorological observation radar system, as well as support through ODA loans for construction works to shore up steep slopes in major national highways that face a high risk of landslides. Japan has also provided support through technical cooperation, aimed at improving design and construction management capability in Sri Lanka in the area of construction works to counter landslide disasters. At the Japan-Sri Lanka Summit Meeting held in March 2018, Japan announced that it will provide technical cooperation with Sri Lanka to further improve its capability to implement measures for countering landslides, such as the building of early warning systems for landslide disasters.
C Efforts with regard to International Discussions on ODA
Japan also contributes actively to international discussions on ODA. The Development Assistance Committee (DAC) of the OECD is advancing efforts to modernize ODA based on an agreement concluded at the High-Level Meeting held in 2014. This includes changing the ODA accounting rules for ODA loans, formulating ODA accounting rules for expenses related to migrants and refugees as well as peacekeeping and peacebuilding activities, and efforts to promote the mobilization of private-sector funds. Japan also strives to ensure that ODA programs are aligned with the modern times, and that efforts by donors are reflected accurately. In addition, Japan has been serving on the Steering Committee of the Global Partnership for Effective Development Cooperation (GPEDC) since September 2015. The GPEDC serves as a framework that various entities participate in with the aim of improving the effectiveness of development cooperation. These entities are not limited to the governments of various countries, but also include civil society, the private sector and so on. Japan has also been introducing its initiatives in areas such as investment in quality infrastructure and triangular cooperation at the GPEDC.
D Efforts toward Promotion of Information Disclosure and Improvement Development of Cooperation Quality
The understanding and support from Japanese citizens is essential for the implementation of development cooperation. Therefore, efforts are made for effective communication and higher quality of development cooperation to enhance their understanding of ODA. Various PR events took place aiming to reach out to a wide range of people. Specifically, these included publicity through participatory type events such as “Global Festa Japan 2018” (September 29), Japan's largest event for international cooperation, in Odaiba, Tokyo, and “One World Festival” (February) in Osaka City, as well as the production of a short anime program “Go! ODA-Man” based on the popular anime “Eagle Talon.” This animated film simply introduces Japan's ODA projects around the world such as maritime security projects in ASEAN and education support projects in Kenya. The film was also broadcasted on the Tokyo Metro's train channel and BS TV to reach a wide audience. Publicity activities were also implemented with the comedy duo “Penalty” serving as Goodwill Ambassadors to publicize the 30th anniversary of the Grant Assistance for Grassroots Human Security Projects (KUSANONE). Also, efforts are continuously made to deliver information on development cooperation through the ODA website.
Furthermore, based on the Development Cooperation Charter, which declares enhanced efforts for overseas publicity, Japan plans tours to its development cooperation project sites for the local media so that they will also cover Japan's cooperation, and issues PR pamphlets in English and local languages.
In order to improve the quality of ODA, it is necessary to feed recommendations and lessons-learned from the evaluation of the implementation status and effectiveness of ODA back to the decision-making and program/project implementation. MOFA mainly conducts policy and program evaluations by external experts, and the results are shared and used by stakeholders. At the same time, the evaluation results are published on MOFA's website in order to fulfill the accountability to the public. From the viewpoint of improving transparency of the JICA's projects, JICA publicizes the current status and achievements of each project on its “ODA Mieru-ka Site” (a website for the visualization of ODA). As of the end of December 2018, a total of 4,322 projects are listed on this site.
Foreign Minister Kono commissioned “Yoshida-kun,” the main character in the Eagle Talon animated series, as ODA-Man to represent the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in September 2018 and help raise awareness of ODA among the Japanese people. This led to the creation of “Go! ODA-Man” a series of animated videos that are full of jokes introducing Japan's ODA activities that contribute to the world.
Not many opportunities are available for the people of Japan to learn about Japan's ODA activities, which mainly assist the advancement of developing countries through local projects. That is why many people seem to feel that they are not clear as to what ODA is all about, despite having heard about the term, even if they do know not to pronounce it “Oda (a common Japanese family name).” Some might wonder whether it is necessary to use Japanese Government funds, in other words taxpayer money, to assist other countries.
Actually, Japan was also a recipient of ODA activities in the past. Japan's important infrastructure that still supports its society, such as the Tokaido Shinkansen, highways in the Tokyo metropolitan area, and Kurobe Dam in Toyama Prefecture, was built using ODA funds from overseas after the Second World War. Japan recovered at an unprecedented pace while receiving such assistance and, from 1954, switched to the side of helping other countries through the provision of ODA and started contributing to global peace and stability.
The world is likely to become more peaceful if countries around the world become prosperous and everyone can lead healthy and better lives. Everything is linked globally. Japan's peace and prosperity are only possible with global peace and prosperity. Answering calls for Japanese assistance from around the world also raises trust in Japan and boosts the country's presence globally. ODA helps developing countries and at the same time also benefits Japan!
Of course, no matter how enthusiastic this explanation may be, this, in and of itself, will not foster a full understanding of ODA. “ODA-Man” was born to help provide a clear explanation of the meaning, purpose, and importance of ODA, which uses precious tax payer money, and facilitate greater understanding of ODA among the Japanese people. The “Go! ODA-Man” video series introducing Japan's ODA activities in Asian countries, Kenya, and other countries around the world aired on Tokyo Metro's train channel and Japanese satellite broadcasting in September and October 2018. A manga version of it has been distributed on the LINE app too. In addition, a costumed ODA-Man is also actively involved in this initiative, making appearances at various events.
Please give your support to ODA-Man as he continues his efforts to deepen interest in and understanding of ODA among Japanese people!
Videos and manga of “Go! ODA-Man”* are available for viewing on the Ministry of Foreign Affairs website! (*Japanese version only)