Govt Poised to Overhaul Development Assistance Charter

Yomiuri Shimbun file photo
A bridge in the Philippines that was funded by Japanese development assistance in the 1990s

The government’s new Development Cooperation Charter will include policies to address issues such as digitization and food and energy security in developing nations, as well as efforts to strengthen supply chains, it has been learned.

The charter, which sets guidelines for the government’s official development assistance (ODA), is set for its first revision in eight years.

There has been some criticism among the Japanese public about the large amount of taxpayers’ money that goes toward aid for developing countries, amid the severe fiscal situation in Japan.

The new charter will emphasize the benefits created by development assistance to Japanese society and the Japanese economy through the promotion of Japanese companies overseas, among other ways.

Developing countries will be positioned as Japan’s “equal partners” in the charter, which will also state that Japan will take the initiative in promoting and implementing transparent and fair rules in light of China’s strategy of plunging countries into a debt trap to gain the rights to use infrastructure, such as ports.

Policies to tackle climate change and other challenges faced by developing countries, as well as the food crisis triggered by Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, will also feature in the charter, which is expected to be approved by the Cabinet soon.

In the past, official development assistance was provided in response to a developing country’s request. Under the new charter, Japan will capitalize on its strengths and proactively offer aid project ideas to developing countries.

After the Cabinet approves the charter, the Foreign Ministry will release a document on the offer-style-ODA with examples of specific aid projects related to social infrastructure development, medical care and education.