Extraordinary Press Conference by Foreign Minister Taro Kono
Monday, December 17, 2018, 3:27 p.m. Ministry of Finance
Mr. Taro Kono, Minister for Foreign Affairs: Since Japan will host the Tokyo International Conference on African Development (TICAD) and assume the G20 presidency next year, I asked for an increase in NGO-related spending for the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). In addition, I asked that the NGO portion of the general administrative expenses for each project be increased from the current 5% to up to 15%. This is not an across-the-board increase but an increase of up to 15% for those projects that are deemed proper. I have also asked for 3.1 billion yen for the promotion of a free and open Indo-Pacific, grant aid, increase in operational grants for the Japan International Cooperation Agency, and other uses. Furthermore, I have asked for 500 million yen for enhancements, including security improvements at overseas establishments and the services provided by chefs for ambassadors and consul-generals of Japan. These two combined amounts to 3.6 billion yen. We are committed to using this budget to carry out thorough, strategic diplomacy, including next year’s G20 and TICAD.
Reporter: With regard to what you just touched upon, could you please explain the significance of the official development assistance (ODA) budget and its intended uses?
Minister Kono: While Japan faces a severe financial situation, we consider that steady implementation of international assistance for tackling poverty contributes to reining in extreme violence and eliminating terrorism, and that the steady implementation of infectious disease countermeasures helps prevent infectious diseases from entering Japan. We will carefully explain that such overseas assistance will ultimately benefit the country and the people of Japan in order to gain the understanding of the Japanese people. Although the total amount of ODA has been halved since its peak, it will likely not increase anytime soon in view of the financial situation. Under such circumstances, we will give strategic consideration to efficiency and effectiveness and carefully examine what needs to be done and how. Moreover, we would like NGOs to further demonstrate their strengths as implementers of ODA, and we will work to design a system to allow for this. We hope to slightly increase the NGO-related ODA budget and enable not only JICA but also a variety of other implementers to execute ODA.
Reporter: I have a related question. Could you tell us about how much you requested for the 15% increase?
Minister Kono: It does not mean a 15% increase will be approved for all projects. We would like to increase the amount only for those projects that submit proper reports and can ensure transparency. We will work to design such a system. We would also like to slightly increase the share of ODA implemented by NGOs. We asked for 3.1 billion yen in total, and this was approved. Going forward, we will carefully examine how this budget would be administered, including the operational grants for JICA.