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Reforming Official Development Assistance (ODA) in Japan

Changes in global orientations and conditions awaiting Japan's ODA

As the 21st Century approaches, Japan is faced with the need to deal with changes within the country, particularly diversity in social values, an aging society, and a government deficit growing out of reach. Structural reform is required at every level of the country, be it political, economic, social, and administrative. We are now living under intense global competition and border-less economy. The international arena is also faced with changing needs and calling for Japan's active participation and cooperation on various global issues including regional conflict, poverty, refugee problems, and environmental conservation.

In response to such global expectations, Japan has contributed towards fulfilling them through non-military means of international cooperation such as economic cooperation, the United Nations Peace Keeping Operations, and inter-cultural understanding. Of all, economic cooperation, especially ODA, has become one of the most important means of international cooperation for Japan. It is easily observable as its scale – Japan has retained the position of the top donor of the world for the last five years. It has also received high marks from both other donors and recipients, for that fact Japan has helped development of the economy and standard of living in recipient countries.

Japan depends on most resources and owes its prosperity on the stability and development of international community, its trading partners. It is therefore important to ensure stable growth of the world economy and to secure natural resources, particularly energy, through its own strategic tool of economic cooperation. Contribution towards ensuring peace and prosperity of the world must also be interpreted as a measure to secure its national interest. For sure it will bring about security to the nation and its people, as well as to further development of its economy and industry. This also means that ODA, as well as the trade and investment of the business sector, has a big role to play in serving the national interests.

One must take note, however, the current ODA administration in Japan is complicated. It involves many different ministries, lacks coordination and flexibility towards changing global conditions. It is also necessary to remember that ODA budget is also under public scrutiny – the time is calling for structural changes in the fiscal spending.

To meet changing global conditions and national interests, while responding to international expectations on Japan's ODA, it is of absolute importance that the government pays due concern towards why ODA must exist and so on. Towards achieving the goal, the government must immediately start full-fledged efforts to structural reform of ODA administration.

Keidanren thus proposes three concrete measures under four basic principles towards fundamental reform of the ODA administration as follows.

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