Kishida to Expand ODA in Move Toward Free and Open Indo-Pacific

The Yomiuri Shimbun
Fumio Kishida

Japan will expand its official development assistance (ODA) to developing and emerging economies in the Global South as part of its new plan to promote the vision of a free and open Indo-Pacific, Prime Minister Fumio Kishida is set to announce when he visits India from Sunday to Wednesday.

He also intends to clearly express his resolve to take the lead in maintaining and reinforcing the international order based on the rule of law, global public goods such as international public health, and safety at sea and in the air, several government sources said.

On Monday, he will meet with Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi, and later he will deliver a speech on the new plan at a meeting organized by a policy research institute.

In his speech, he will emphasize the growing importance of a free and open Indo-Pacific, which will lead to cooperation among countries rather than division and confrontation, as the international community faces a historic turning point in the wake of Russia’s aggression against Ukraine.

He will also emphasize that Japan’s partnership with India is essential to the free and open Indo-Pacific vision.

A key policy tool for a free and open Indo-Pacific is the expansion of ODA, in both quality and scale. The government has allocated ¥570.9 billion for ODA in the budget bill for fiscal 2023.

Japan will tailor its assistance — provided in partnership between the public and private sectors — to the circumstances of countries in the Global South, which vary in their development stages.

Japan envisages that the plan will stimulate the development of high-quality infrastructure, helping to achieve stability and economic growth in the target countries, leading to peace and prosperity in the Indo-Pacific region.

Recent years have seen a “debt trap” problem, in which Chinese assistance to newly emerging economies takes the form of loans that leave recipient countries so mired in debt that they are forced to give China extensive rights to ports and other facilities in those countries.

Japan hopes to counter such diplomacy through strategic use of its ODA, thus preventing emerging economies from becoming heavily dependent on certain countries.