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The Cabinet said Friday it will create new sections in the Foreign Ministry to improve the planning of official development assistance, especially for Southeast and Southwest Asian nations, government officials said.

The plan to create the Southeast and Southwest Asian Affairs Department and the International Cooperation Bureau, effective Aug. 1, comes in connection with the ministry’s overall efforts to strengthen its capability in ODA planning.

The decision to restructure the ministry’s Asian and Oceanian Affairs Bureau by creating the new section for Southwest Asia reflects Tokyo’s intention to strengthen ties with India, which Japan deems a strategically important country given its rising economic power, one of the officials said.

Member states of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations and Southwest Asian countries are among the major recipients of Japan’s ODA.

The Cabinet also gave the green light to creating the International Cooperation Bureau to formulate a comprehensive policy on ODA consistent with diplomatic strategy.

The bureau will absorb the ODA planning functions that had been handled by separate bureaus, the Global Issues Department and Economic Cooperation Bureau.

The ministry is making the moves in line with the government’s efforts to reform the implementation of ODA, which the ministry sees as an important diplomatic tool.

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