ODA serves as an investment in ASEAN: white paper

Kyodo

The nation’s official development assistance to the Association of Southeast Asian Nations has been an effective “investment in the future” for the 10-nation region and Japan, bolstering development and prosperity for both, according to a government paper released Friday.

The ODA White Paper for 2013 calls for ensuring that Japanese ODA will spur ASEAN initiatives to build infrastructure and narrow intraregional development gaps toward the goal of boosting regional “connectivity” and achieving a more integrated economic community by the end of 2015.

“While supporting ASEAN’s efforts toward integration, it is hoped that (the Japanese government) will make greater efforts and worked-out plans to realize ODA that will also contribute to building a basis for overseas deployment of Japanese companies,” the paper says.

The paper says that amid rapid changes in the global environment for Japan, “It is necessary to support countries that share fundamental values such as freedom, democracy, human rights and the rule of law, as well as strategic values, as we deploy ODA strategically as a diplomatic tool.”

With a total population of about 600 million and gross domestic product of more than $2 trillion, ASEAN draws attention from the world as a major “production base.” As of 2011, Japan’s investment accounted for 17 percent of foreign direct investment into the region, it says.

In 2012, Japan’s ODA totaled about $10.60 billion, down 2.1 percent from the previous year and fifth after the United States, Britain, Germany and France.

Vietnam was the largest recipient of that aid with $1.64 billion, followed by Afghanistan with $873 million, India with $704 million and Iraq with $360 million.

Among ASEAN countries, Cambodia ranked seventh, Myanmar 17th and Laos 18th. Among African countries, Tanzania ranked 10th, Kenya 11th, Ghana 12th and Ethiopia 14th.