Photo/Illutration Foreign Minister Yoshimasa Hayashi, right, attends the 8th Tokyo International Conference on African Development in Tunisia on Aug. 27. (Provided by Japanese Foreign Ministry)

The Japanese government intends to make strategic use of official development assistance to achieve a free and open Indo-Pacific region.

The government decided it will review the development cooperation charter, which stipulates guidelines for Japan’s ODA to developing countries, in the first half of next year.

The government has stressed the importance of an Indo-Pacific strategy in light of China’s growing military and economic influence in the region, along with Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

The revision of the charter would be the first since 2015.

The government will announce the review as early as Sept. 9, and a panel of experts will be set up to discuss the plan.

The new charter will state that attempts to unilaterally change the status quo by force will not be tolerated. It will call for the realization of the concept of a free and open Indo-Pacific based on the rules Japan has advocated.

The charter will state it is essential to strengthen cooperation with countries in the Indo-Pacific region for this purpose, and the government intends to utilize ODA further.

The charter will set out to achieve fair and transparent development finances, saying it will focus on the quality of growth leading to the improvement of people’s lives in the region.

The government will prioritize economic security as a key issue and will work to secure supply chains.

With emergencies, such as the one caused by China in Taiwan in mind, there is a sense of urgency to revise the charter.

“Ukraine today may be East Asia tomorrow,” Prime Minister Fumio Kishida has said several times.

China has been expanding its influence on the economic front with its Belt and Road Initiative, which is aimed at creating a giant economic zone.

It has been strengthening its control over developing countries by extending large amounts of loans for infrastructure construction, with some experts calling it a “debt trap.”

The Japanese government, on the other hand, intends to take a different approach of emphasizing quality rather than quantity.


The Asahi Shimbun

The Foreign Ministry requested an ODA budget of around 494.2 billion yen ($3.4 billion) for fiscal 2023, a 12 percent increase from this fiscal year’s initial budget.

The ministry intends to work to “achieve connectivity through support for high-quality infrastructure” and “support the development of legal systems and human resource as a basis for the establishment of the rule of law and the sharing of universal values.”

However, the overall government ODA budget has remained flat due to the difficult financial situation in Japan.

After peaking at around 1.2 trillion yen in fiscal 1997, the budget went on a downward trend for more than 10 years. It has remained in a range of 500 billion to 600 billion yen since fiscal 2011.

The United Nations has set a target of 0.7 percent for ODA as a percentage of gross national income.

However, Japan’s ODA-to-GNI ratio remained at 0.34 percent in 2021, according to the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development.