Japan to increase aid to Asia amid China’s growing maritime assertiveness


The government will expand aid to Asian countries amid China’s growing maritime assertiveness in the South China Sea, according to an annual report on foreign aid, the contents of which were obtained by Kyodo News on Tuesday.

The Foreign Ministry’s latest white paper on the country’s official development assistance shows the government’s intention to secure vital sea lanes in the region, including around the member countries of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations.

The 10-member bloc is “extremely important from both the political and economic perspectives,” said the white paper, which is set to be submitted to the Cabinet on Friday.

With an aim to develop “order based on universal values” in East Asia, including in the ASEAN region, Japan will support the countries’ efforts to improve maritime security and build infrastructure, the white paper said.

As for infrastructure development, the report said Japan intends to promote high-quality infrastructure, which would “make Asia the center of global economic growth, create jobs and offer technology” to the local people.

Japan also plans to expand its aid spend for infrastructure building, seeking “not only quality but quantity” in outcomes from its aid provision, the paper said. By 2020, Japan will, together with the Asian Development Bank, expand total investment to Asia to around $110 billion.

Last year, Japan revised the Development Cooperation Charter for the first time since 2003, highlighting its stance of using overseas development assistance to protect its national interests in the wake of the changing global environment.

Under the charter, Japanese aid can be used to support foreign armed forces in noncombat operations such as disaster relief, infrastructure building and coast guard activities. Until then, overseas development assistance was usually disbursed for projects to build infrastructure and reduce poverty in recipient countries.

ASEAN groups together Brunei, Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam.