Over half a century of development assistance

Page 33 

Development is at the heart of the OECD’s mission, and Japan has always been at the heart of the OECD’s development efforts.

Japan’s development aid programme predates its OECD membership by a decade, since the country became a participant in the Colombo Plan for Co-operative Economic and Social Development in Asia in 1954. The Colombo Plan quickly became a way for Japan to launch technical co-operation and also to initiate a more international presence and influence in economic and social policy.

This role grew thanks to Japan’s yen loans, which it began disbursing in 1958 with a loan to India. Japan received the last of its own multilateral development loans in 1966, and by 2012 the country marked its 22nd year as the world’s largest creditor nation. The country’s official development assistance (ODA) expenditures also took on new importance as a foreign policy instrument when it joined first the Development Assistance Group (later Committee) at the OECD before joining the OECD proper in 1964. By 1989 Japan’s total ODA was the highest in the world, a position it held until 2000. By 2004 Japan had disbursed over US$220 billion for development in 185 countries.

Nowadays Japan’s bilateral development assistance comes to less than 0.2% of gross national income, down from over 0.3% in the late 1980s and early 1990s, and below the UN recommended target of 0.7%. Nevertheless, it was the fifth largest aid donor in net terms in 2012 with some US$11 billion, and in gross disbursements it is the second largest aid donor on the planet, after the US. According to JICA (Japan International Co-operation Agency), which is responsible for implementing the country’s overseas aid programmes, today’s projects aim for “inclusive and dynamic development”, with an emphasis on self-help and technical support. The range of projects which Japan has been responsible for is wide: from working with fishers to help kick-start salmon farming in Chile in the late 1960s and providing technical and financial support for traditional grain crops in Afghanistan in 2000s; to large scale infrastructural projects, such as expanding the Suez Canal in Egypt from the late 1950s, and a multibillion dollar loan and grant scheme for rebuilding Iraq in 2003.

Japanese aid also helps small businesses, medical facilities, education and research to take hold in Asia, Africa and Latin America. It provides for urban planning to improve living conditions and well-being in cities. And it assures emergency assistance, via disaster relief, volunteer medical teams and self-defence forces. More recently, as a traditional donor eager to improve the effectiveness of aid, Japan has been an active proponent of working not just with recipient countries but with relatively new donors from emerging countries as well, using so-called “triangular” co-operation.

Japan’s Official Development Assistance White Paper 2004: “Accomplishments and Progress of 50 Years”

The next OECD DAC Peer Review of Japanese ODA will be issued in 2014.

Visit www.oecd.org/dac

©OECD Observer No 298, Q1 2014

Economic data


Stay up-to-date with the latest news from the OECD by signing up for our e-newsletter :

Twitter feed

Suscribe now

<b>Subscribe now!</b>

To receive your exclusive print editions delivered to you directly

Online edition
Previous editions

Don't miss

  • Africa's cities at the forefront of progress: Africa is urbanising at a historically rapid pace coupled with an unprecedented demographic boom. By 2050, about 56% of Africans are expected to live in cities. This poses major policy challenges, but make no mistake: Africa’s cities and towns are engines of progress that, if harnessed correctly, can fuel the entire continent’s sustainable development.
  • “Nizip” refugee camp visit
    July 2016: OECD Secretary-General Angel Gurría visits the “Nizip” refugee camp, situated between Gaziantep and the Turkish-Syrian border, accompanied by Turkey’s Deputy Prime Minister Mehmet Şimşek. The camp accommodates a small number of the 2.75 million Syrians currently registered in Turkey, mostly outside the camps. In his tour of the camp, Mr Gurría visits a school, speaks with refugees and gives a short interview.
  • OECD Observer i-Sheet Series: OECD Observer i-Sheets are smart contents pages on major issues and events. Use them to find current or recent articles, video, books and working papers. To browse on paper and read on line, or simply download.
  • Queen Maxima of the Netherlands gives a speech next to Mexico's President Enrique Pena Nieto (not pictured) during the International Forum of Financial Inclusion at the National Palace in Mexico City, Mexico June 21, 2016.
  • How sustainable is the ocean as a source of economic development? The Ocean Economy in 2030 examines the risks and uncertainties surrounding the future development of ocean industries, the innovations required in science and technology to support their progress, their potential contribution to green growth and some of the implications for ocean management.
  • OECD Environment Director Simon Upton presented a talk at Imperial College London on 21 April 2016. With the world awash in surplus oil and prices languishing around US$40 per barrel, how can governments step up efforts to transform the world’s energy systems in line with the Paris Agreement?
  • Happy 10th birthday to Twitter. This 2008 OECD Observer interview with Henry Copeland said you’d do well.
  • The OECD Gender Initiative examines existing barriers to gender equality in education, employment, and entrepreneurship. The gender portal monitors the progress made by governments to promote gender equality in both OECD and non-OECD countries and provides good practices based on analytical tools and reliable data.
  • Once migrants reach Europe, countries face integration challenge: OECD's Thomas Liebig speaks to NPR's Audie Cornish.

  • Message from the International Space Station to COP21

  • The carbon clock is ticking: OECD’s Gurría on CNBC

  • If we want to reach zero net emissions by the end of the century, we must align our policies for a low-carbon economy, put a price on carbon everywhere, spend less subsidising fossil fuels and invest more in clean energy. OECD at #COP21 – OECD statement for #COP21
  • They are green and local --It’s a new generation of entrepreneurs in Kenya with big dreams of sustainable energy and the drive to see their innovative technologies throughout Africa. blogs.worldbank.org
  • Pole to Paris Project
  • In order to face global warming, Asia needs at least $40 billion per year, derived from both the public and private sector. Read how to bridge the climate financing gap on the Asian Bank of Development's website.
  • How can cities fight climate change?
    Discover projects in Denmark, Canada, Australia, Japan and Mexico.
  • Climate: What's changed, what hasn't, what we can do about it.
    Lecture by OECD Secretary-General Angel Gurría, hosted by the London School of Economics and Aviva Investors in association with ClimateWise, London, UK, 3 July 2015.
  • Is technological progress slowing down? Is it speeding up? At the OECD, we believe the research from our Future of ‪Productivity‬ project helps to resolve this paradox.
  • Is inequality bad for growth? That redistribution boosts economies is not established by the evidence says FT economics editor Chris Giles. Read more on www.ft.com.
  • Interested in a career in Paris at the OECD? The OECD is a major international organisation, with a mission to build better policies for better lives. With our hub based in one of the world's global cities and offices across continents, find out more at www.oecd.org/careers .

Most Popular Articles


What issue are you most concerned about in 2016?

Euro crisis
International conflict
Global warming

OECD Insights Blog

NOTE: All signed articles in the OECD Observer express the opinions of the authors
and do not necessarily represent the official views of OECD member countries.

All rights reserved. OECD 2016