National

Japan targets more coordination with firms and NGOs to get most out of development aid

Kyodo

Japan will join with private companies and nongovernmental organizations to make more efficient and effective use of official development assistance, one of Tokyo’s key diplomatic pillars, according to a white paper released by the Foreign Ministry on Friday.

The annual report on development cooperation reflects Tokyo’s review of the ODA it provides to promote economic and social advancements in developing nations.

“It will become even more necessary to strengthen coordination among various aid providers,” the ministry said in the white paper. “The ministry will deepen discussion with various parties involved and carry out ODA provision in a more efficient and effective way.”

Japan was the world’s largest provider of ODA in 2000, but fell to third place — after the United States and Germany — in 2017, spending around $18.46 billion. The nation’s increasingly poor fiscal situation prompted calls for the review.

Japan has already declared an end to its ODA support for China, provided since 1979, which helped that country’s ascent to its status as the world’s second-largest economic power, saying the neighbors are now “equal partners.”

The total amount of ODA extended to China over the four-decade period exceeded ¥3.6 trillion ($32 billion), enabling it to improve infrastructure and tackle environmental problems such as air pollution.

The latest report, however, stressed the importance of ODA in achieving a “free and open” Indo-Pacific, the initiative advocated by Prime Minister Shinzo Abe to ensure the smooth movement of people and goods, and the rules-based order.

Humanitarian assistance is also a priority area. Tokyo will continue to provide support to the Rohingya, a Muslim ethnic minority group who have fled to Bangladesh to escape a military crackdown in Myanmar, and to pave the way for their repatriation, the ministry said.

Focused on nonmilitary contributions, Japan’s assistance aims to improve human security globally. Its ODA includes grant aid, loans and technical cooperation.

As host of the Group of 20 summit in June and an international conference on African development in August, 2019 is a “critical year” to meet U.N. Sustainable Development Goals — a set of targets to be attained by 2030 in areas such as poverty, inequality, climate and peace, the ministry said.

“Japan will show the world that it is a strong promoter of SDGs and exercise leadership,” it said.

The white paper is compiled every year to outline, with statistics, Japan’s contributions in development assistance.

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