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The Foreign Ministry established two new departments Tuesday, one of which aims to improve planning for official development assistance in Southeast and Southwest Asia.

The creation of the Southeast and Southwest Asian Affairs Department and the International Cooperation Bureau is part of the ministry’s effort to strengthen its ODA planning capabilities, officials said.

The shakeup also underscores the government’s desire to strengthen ties with India, which it sees as a strategically important country in light of its growing economic clout.

Members of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations and Southwest Asian countries are major recipients of Japanese ODA.

The other section, the International Cooperation Bureau, was created to formulate a comprehensive aid policy in line with Japan’s diplomatic strategy, the officials said.

The bureau absorbed the ODA planning functions previously handled by the Global Issues Department, which handled multilateral ODA, and the Economic Cooperation Bureau, which was in charge of bilateral aid.

The change is part of the government’s effort to improve the effectiveness of ODA, which the ministry sees as an important diplomatic tool.

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