"The World and Japan" Database (Project Leader: TANAKA Akihiko)
Database of Japanese Politics and International Relations
National Graduate Institute for Policy Studies (GRIPS); Institute for Advanced Studies on Asia (IASA), The University of Tokyo

[Title] ODA Policy Speech by H.E. Mr. Fumio Kishida, Minister for Foreign Affairs of Japan “An Evolving ODA: For the World’s Future and Japan’s Future”

[Place] Tokyo
[Date] April 4, 2014
[Source] Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Japan
[Full text]


(1) Kishida Diplomacy: One Year and Three Months

Thank you for that introduction. My name is Fumio Kishida, and I am the Minister for Foreign Affairs of Japan. It’s a great honor to speak at the Japan National Press Club today. As Mr. Hoshi said in his introduction, I hope this will not be the first and last time I get to speak here. It’s been about one year and three months since I assumed the office of Foreign Minister. In that period of time, I visited 34 countries and regions based on my policy of going to as many places as possible to see with my own eyes and hear with my own ears. The distance I traveled so far is already equal to the distance of circling the Earth approximately eleven times. The distance of circling the Earth nine times is said to roughly equal the distance from the Earth to the Moon. By this calculation, I have already traveled to the Moon and am in the middle of returning back to the Earth. Recently, I made my sixth overseas visit of this year to Bangladesh and Myanmar. You have given me your valuable time today. I would like to take this opportunity to reflect on Japan’s diplomacy of the past one year and three months. This year is a milestone for Japan – it marks the 60th anniversary of the start of Japanese official development assistance (ODA). On this milestone year, I would like to speak about the vision of future ODA, the most important tool for Japanese diplomacy, while bearing in mind past ODA.

I would like to start by reflecting on the past one year and three months. Since assuming the office of Foreign Minister, I pursued diplomacy based on the three pillars of diplomacy, namely: strengthening the Japan-U.S. Alliance; strengthening our relations with neighboring countries; and strengthening economic diplomacy.

With regard to the first pillar concerning the Japan-U.S. Alliance, I feel that in the past year and three months, Japan and the United States were able to strengthen our bonds. In February of last year, the Japan-U.S. summit meeting was held. Since then, concrete achievements have been made, including Japan’s participation in the Trans-Pacific Partnership negotiations, as well as progress in the relocation of the U.S. Marine Corps’ Air Station Futenma. In October of last year, I myself hosted the Japan-U.S. Security Consultative Committee (“2+2”) in Tokyo, which was attended by all four ministers and secretaries for the first time. I have already held talks with U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry on 15 occasions, including telephone conferences. In late April, President Barack Obama will be visiting Japan. I will seize this opportunity to demonstrate the robust role that the Japan-U.S. Alliance plays for peace and prosperity in Asia to those in and outside of Japan.

The second pillar is promoting relations with neighboring countries. For example, last year was a milestone year of the 40th Year of ASEAN-Japan Friendship and Cooperation. Prime Minister Shinzo Abe visited all ten ASEAN member states. Furthermore, I held talks with the foreign ministers of all ASEAN member states. And last December, the ASEAN-Japan Commemorative Summit Meeting was held in Tokyo, Japan. This meeting brought leaders together from all ten ASEAN member states except for Thailand, whose Prime Minister regrettably could not come to Japan due to the disorder in her country at the time. Recently, I visited Myanmar, this year’s Chair of ASEAN, and followed-up on our deepening relationship. I perceive that Japan and Myanmar were able to elevate their relationship considerably over the past one year. Japan was also able to advance its cooperative relations with relevant countries, including Russia, India, and Australia.

The third pillar concerns economic diplomacy. In December of last year, I set up the Headquarters for the Promotion of Japanese Business Support, which I chair, at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Japan. The Headquarters compiled concrete action plans for further promoting the overseas expansion of Japanese enterprises, as well as establishing public-private partnership projects that contribute to Japanese economic growth. The Headquarters then gave instructions to all of Japan’s overseas diplomatic establishments. The Headquarters will continue to support a variety of initiatives, including the overseas promotion of Japanese infrastructure systems, the overseas expansion of Japanese small- and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs), and the export of Japanese agricultural, forestry, and fishery products.

In this way, centered on the three pillars of diplomacy, I spent the past one year and three months furthering Japan’s national interests. However, as Foreign Minister, I know firsthand that these initiatives alone are not adequate for Japanese diplomatic efforts. Japan can do more while protecting its national interests centered on the three pillars. Japan can make its presence felt and obtain understanding, precisely by making painstaking efforts to tackle what are considered by the international community as key and global challenges.

For example, in connection with the Middle East peace process, Japan has led the “Corridor for Peace and Prosperity” initiative and the CEAPAD (Conference on cooperation among East Asian countries for Palestinian Development) initiative which coordinates Asian assistance to the Palestinians. In regard to Iran’s nuclear issue, I visited Iran and worked on it based on the unique historical relationship, in line with the progress of the international talks between Iran and EU3+3 on that issue. Japan has also made contributions in dealing with the issue of chemical weapons in Syria. In the area of nuclear disarmament and non-proliferation, this year, the NPDI (Non-Proliferation and Disarmament Initiative) Ministerial Meeting will be held in Hiroshima from April 11. The final Preparatory Committee for the 2015 NPT Review Conference held every five years will take place immediately after the NPDI Ministerial Meeting in Japan. Japan is also committed to making steady contributions in the area of disarmament and non-proliferation.

Aside from the issues I just mentioned, there are other global challenges, such as environment and disaster management. If Japan fully tackles these global challenges, I think Japan can show that it is different from other Asian countries. I believe, then, Japan can make its presence felt in Asia and have a greater voice. In short, alongside furthering Japan’s national interests centered on the three pillars of diplomacy, I pursued diplomacy based on the stance that Japan can enhance its presence in the international community, precisely by addressing these global challenges.

(2) Global Significance of 2015 and Japan’s Contributions

Against this background, I imagine that next year, 2015, will be a very significant milestone year for the world. Next year will mark an array of milestones, including the 70th anniversary of the end of World War II, the 70th anniversary of the founding of the United Nations, and the 50th anniversary of the normalization of diplomatic relations between Japan and the Republic of Korea. Next year, 2015, will also mark a turning point in the field of development. Next year will mark the deadline for achieving the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) that the international community has been working to realize, and the year that new development goals called the post-2015 development agenda will be formulated. In addition, 2015 is the year that the new international climate change framework beyond 2020 will be decided, and the year that the World Conference on Disaster Risk Reduction will be held in Sendai.

In the field of development, 2015 will be a very significant year. ODA will become the most important tool for Japan to fully address these international challenges, especially in the area of development. Japan’s ODA Charter was created in 1992. The Charter was revised once in 2003, and over a decade has passed since then. In view of the big year ahead in 2015 as well as the dramatic changes that have unfolded in Japan and the international community since 2003, I would like to announce here that the ODA Charter will be reviewed and revised during this year of the 60th anniversary of Japan’s ODA.

To serve as a pillar of peace diplomacy, the ODA Charter was first created in 1992, when Japanese diplomacy was entering a new phase following the end of the Cold War. The Charter was developed under the Kiichi Miyazawa Cabinet by then-Prime Minister Kiichi Miyazawa, who is my great superior from my hometown of Hiroshima, and who was the chair of the Kochikai faction. This time, the Abe Cabinet, which aspires to create a Japan that shines in the world, will revise the ODA Charter in order to tailor it to the environment of a new era. To revise the ODA Charter means to show to the world Japan’s path forward.

I would first like to take a look back at the past 60 years of ODA. Then, I will discuss how ODA in the new era should be administered. I will conclude my remarks by describing this year’s review of the ODA Charter.

1. Looking Back at ODA’s 60 Years

In looking back at ODA’s 60 years, I would like to explain my views on why Japan extends development cooperation in the first place.

The first reason has to do with what Japan should stand for as a country. The world is filled with people who suffer from poverty and disease and cannot have hope for tomorrow. Extending a helping hand to such people is a noble ideal or philosophy inherent in human beings. I believe that, first and foremost, this principle must be at the basis of what Japan should stand for as a country. ODA provides a concrete tool for going about this.

Another important reason Japan extends development cooperation is to create a favorable environment for peace, stability, and prosperity in Japan. As ODA utilizes Japanese taxpayers’ money, ODA must be of a nature that contributes to Japanese interests. However, we shall not be going after short-term national interests. We must explore methods of assistance that will contribute to Japanese interests while also benefiting the entire international community.

(1) The History and Characteristics of Japanese Assistance

A. Assistance for Self-help Efforts

In my view, Japanese ODA that has been implemented to date has three features: assistance for self-help efforts; promotion of sustainable economic growth; and ensuring human security.

The first feature, assistance for self-help efforts, is a concept that constitutes the foundation of Japanese assistance. It refers to building up developing countries’ capacities through education and human resources development for paving their own path to growth. It is about thinking together what is appropriate for that country and advancing together.

For example, at one time Singapore wished to introduce Japan’s koban system of community policing. Japan then carried out technical cooperation. With this cooperation, Singapore launched its first koban in 1983. By 2004, approximately 100 kobans were set up throughout the country. The Singaporean version of the koban system, which introduced Singapore’s unique wisdom into the Japanese system, has earned the deep trust of the Singaporean people and contributed significantly to reducing the crime rate. This is precisely an example of assistance for strengthening ownership that turned out to be successful.

Human resources development forms the foundation of the assistance for self-help efforts. To date, JICA has dispatched around 126,000 experts to the world, and received around 516,000 training participants in Japan. Dr. José Ramos-Horta, who became the President of Timor-Leste and received the Nobel Peace Prize, had visited Japan as a JICA trainee. Many people who received training in Japan are now playing active roles at the center of their respective countries.

B. Promotion of Sustainable Economic Growth

The second feature of Japan’s ODA to date is, I have to say, promotion of sustainable economic growth.

In the 1980s, a fishing village in eastern Thailand, which had hardly any water sources, developed into a major industrial complex because of Japanese ODA. Many companies, including Japanese companies, established hubs there, and products began to be exported to all parts of the world.

Furthermore, Japan has provided ODA to build infrastructures in the ASEAN region, including roads, bridges, airports, ports, and power grids, and thereby, contributed to strengthening connectivity and facilitating distribution that is indispensable to ASEAN’s integration. Infrastructure development promotes private investment, generates employment, and contributes to sustainable economic growth. Bringing sustainable economic growth to a country by carrying out infrastructure development is a pattern distinctive to the ODA and international cooperation of Japan. This is substantiated by Japan’s experience in Asia, as well as by Japan’s track record in assistance to Asia. As you are all aware, ASEAN is now registering dramatic growth.

C. Ensuring Human Security

The third feature of Japan’s ODA to date is ensuring human security, in other words, cooperating to ensure that people can live in dignity, free from fear and want. This gets at what I noted earlier regarding what Japan should stand for as a country and about methods of assistance that manifest the noble philosophy inherent in human beings. Japan, based on this philosophy, has focused on the needs of each and every human being, providing support to protect and empower individuals.

In 1997, in an area which had the highest cholera incidence rate in Lusaka, the capital of Zambia, Japan installed public flushing toilets and showers. Since then, the local people have come to know this area, a former waste disposal site, by the name of “KOSHU” (the Japanese word for “public”). Cholera infection in this district fell sharply, recording just one outbreak in 2004.

(2) Achievements of Japan’s Development Cooperation

A. Growth of Developing Countries and Poverty Reduction

Japan’s ODA has yielded significant results. In the past 30 years, the proportion of people living on less than US$1 a day decreased from 52% to 20% worldwide. The infant mortality rate also decreased by more than 45%. Of course, these results also owe to the efforts made by developing countries themselves. However, I feel proud that Japanese ODA contributed considerably to these outcomes. Furthermore, these outcomes have led to earning other countries’ deep trust and favorable impression towards Japan. In the wake of the Great East Japan Earthquake, Japan received support from many countries around the world. It was very memorable that many developing countries explained they were doing this in return for the Japanese assistance they received.

B. Benefits for Japan and for the Entire International Community

Additionally, we must not forget the benefits that ODA delivers to Japan. Japan has given priority to extending assistance to Asia. During a 20-year period from 1981, Asia achieved annual growth exceeding 6.4% on average. Today, ASEAN has grown to become a huge market with a total GDP of more than US$2 trillion. ASEAN is moving towards the realization of an ASEAN Community by 2015. This evolving ASEAN is an essential partner for the Japanese and global economies.

Africa should also be mentioned. In the early 1990s, Africa was very different from Africa today. While Africa is now the center of global attention as a “dynamic continent,” in the early 1990s, Africa was in a very tough situation, which was marred by confusion and poverty. In those days, when the world showed less interest in Africa, Japan believed in the potential of Africa and started the Tokyo International Conference on African Development (TICAD) process ahead of the initiatives of other countries. Japan launched this TICAD process 21 years ago, and hosted TICAD V in Yokohama in June of last year. Japan has supported Africa’s growth through the TICAD process. This led to Africa’s dynamism today. Japanese companies have increasing interest today in Africa.

The achievements of ODA are not limited to the economic realm. The oceans in Southeast Asia, including the Strait of Malacca and Singapore Strait through which over 80% of Japan’s crude oil imports pass, are important transportation channels that support the prosperity of Japan as well as of the entire international community. With Japan’s cooperation, this region has registered stable development. I believe this also has immense significance in the security context.

2. ODA in a New Era

I have looked back at the history of the 60 years of Japan’s ODA. Yes, improvements and corrections could have been made in some instances. Yes, further efforts are of course needed to ensure the appropriate implementation of ODA, especially for the prevention of frauds and corruption. However, it is an undisputable fact that ODA contributes to the development of developing countries and to the resolution of a host of issues facing the international community, and that ODA serves the national interests of Japan.

The environment surrounding Japan has changed drastically over these past 60 years – no, even over just the past 10 years. Amid these changes, ODA needs to evolve even further. Let me explain the three ways in which I believe ODA should evolve going forward.

(1) Evolution 1: ODA that Leads Global Debates

First, ODA must evolve to take the lead in global discussions. At the moment, lively discussions are taking place about the new international development goals. As a new compass for development cooperation, Japan set forth: 1) Inclusiveness; 2) Sustainability; and 3) Resilience. ODA should first take the lead in the discussions on the elimination of disparities.

Furthermore, Japan must continue to offer steady assistance in primarily the area of maternal and child health, an area that Japan is strong in. Going forward, women’s issues are another vital area that Japan should aspire to address through ODA.

In the area of global health, last year, Japan pledged to the international community that it would promote “universal health coverage.” Global health is another area in which Japan needs to make steady contributions.

In addition, assistance in the field of climate change is critical. As I noted a short while ago, next year, the 3rd World Conference on Disaster Risk Reduction will be held in Sendai. Disaster risk reduction is another key issue. Japan must aim to implement ODA which will lead the international community on these issues.

(2) Evolution 2: Peace, Stability, and Security as a Bedrock of Development

Secondly, ODA must evolve to ensure peace, stability, and security. Whether it is devoting efforts to economic and social activities or unleashing the potential of individuals, a peaceful and stable society must lie at the bedrock. From this perspective, ODA should play an extensive role also in the area of security in a broad sense.

Even up to now, Japan has contributed in the area of peacebuilding. Japan supported peace in Mindanao Island in the Philippines. In northern Uganda, Japan provided assistance from the immediate aftermath of the ceasefire. Moving forward, further efforts will be needed to provide seamless assistance in peacebuilding. This includes cooperation for the democratization of the military and the reform of security agencies, as well as peacekeeping operations and the active engagement of the Self-Defense Forces. In addition, ODA must strengthen its partnerships with other cooperation mechanisms. Also, cooperation schemes with NGOs and international organizations must be created.

ODA efforts must be strengthened for ensuring the security of the international community. ODA for creating a peaceful and stable society which will serve as the bedrock of the economy and of the active participation of individuals, or ODA for peace, stability, and security – I believe this is also one of the directions that ODA should be moving towards.

(3) Evolution 3: Strengthening Partnerships with Various Actors

Thirdly, ODA must evolve to form partnerships with a variety of actors, and Japan considers this to be important.

Today, the amount of private flows into developing countries from developed countries is more than double that of ODA. We will be on track to breaking out of poverty if private investment generates employment stimulates consumption, and leads to growth in a virtuous cycle. ODA has a role to play in attracting private investment. This kind of partnership with the private sector is critical. Today, Japanese local governments and SMEs also play an important role in international cooperation. Miyakojima City in Okinawa Prefecture makes use of the island’s unique water-related technology to extend cooperation to Samoa, an island country. Higashi-Matsushima City in Miyagi Prefecture shares the lessons learned from the Great East Japan Earthquake to Banda Aceh in Indonesia, another city that suffered from a tsunami. The use of technologies and products of local SMEs underlie this type of cooperation. Partnerships with such local governments and SMEs are important. Furthermore, when thinking about the future of ODA, partnerships with NGOs are essential. ODA’s partnerships with international organizations are likewise crucial. While partnerships with a variety of international organizations are important, so will be partnerships with regional organizations, such as ASEAN and the African Union in Africa.

ODA is a hub to link a variety of actors, and to generate synergistic effects. This in turn leads to the vitalization of Japan and the world. This is what ODA must aspire to be in the future.


As I have described, as we move into a new era, ODA that has built up a 60-year history must also evolve. In this light, I have decided to this year review and revise the ODA Charter, which was created 22 years ago and previously revised 11 years ago. Under my leadership, an advisory panel chaired by Professor Emeritus Taizo Yakushiji of Keio University will be set up to carry out the discussions. The goal is to establish a new Charter by the end of this year, based on the discussions of the panel.

In the face of a severe financial situation, the ODA policy of the future requires nationwide efforts. The policy must be created with the Japanese people, while obtaining their understanding. In formulating the new Charter, we will be listening to the opinions of a variety of people, including NGOs, civil groups, and the business community.

I believe the time has come for the further evolution of Japan’s international cooperation, in order to ensure that Japan can firmly lead the international community as a peace-loving nation that genuinely aspires for peace and prosperity in the world, and as a responsible player in the international community. I am convinced that this year’s review of the ODA Charter will lead to the creation of an important foundation for these evolutions.

With that, I would like to conclude my remarks on the review of the ODA Charter to be undertaken this year, on the 60th anniversary of Japan’s ODA. Thank you very much for your attention.