Library Talk: Japan’s Development Assistance – Foreign Aid and the Post-2015 Agenda (29/01/2016)

 JICA Vice President Hiroshi Kato asserted that Japan maintained its “consistent” characteristics of its bilateral aid, with its emphasis on socioeconomic infrastructure and human resource developments aimed at poverty reduction, despite of repeated changes in the ODA Charter in 1992, 2003 and 2015.

JICA Vice President Hiroshi KATO and Deputy Director Shinobu YAMAGUCHI, International Cooperation Bureau, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Japan
JICA Vice President Hiroshi KATO and Deputy Director Shinobu YAMAGUCHI, International Cooperation Bureau, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Japan

 On 29 January, Chief Librarian Mayako Matsuki of the UN University moderated the presentations and discussion of the Japan’s foreign aid. Mr. Hiroshi KATO (Vice President of the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA)) and Dr. Sukehiro HASEGAWA (FMR. Special Representative of the UN Secretary-General for Timor-Leste, and Liaison Officer of the Academic Council on the United Nations System (ACUNS) in Tokyo) made presentations on the book Japan’s Development Assistance: Foreign Aid and the Post-2015 (edited by Hiroshi Kato, John Page, and Yasutami Shimomura; Palgrave Macmillan, 2015), “Japan and the United Nations: Its Past, Present and Future (Chapter 15)” respectively. Following these presentations, Mr. Shinobu YAMAGUCHI (Deputy Director of Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MOFA), Japan) gave his view on “2030 Agenda and Japan.”

 In 2014, Japan marked 60 years since it began providing official development assistance (ODA) in 1954. This book represents the results of research on “Japan and the Developing World: 60 Years of Japan’s ODA and the Post-2015 Development Agenda.” It comprises 21 chapters by experts and development practitioners from Japan and around the world, who offer a critical review of Japan’s past bilateral development assistance and its role in multilateral development institutions. They look at the origins, characteristics, and historical changes in Japan’s development cooperation, investigating its interactions with major partners including its Asian neighbours and international organizations. The authors demonstrate that Japan, with its own aid philosophy, experiences, and models of aid, has ample lessons to offer to the international community. (UNU Library)

Session 1: Overview of the book and Japan’s ODA from 1954 to 2014 by Mr. KATO

 Mr. KATO started his presentation by addressing four questions:

   (1) How to interpret the meaning of the Development Cooperation Charter (2015)?;
   (2) What Rrole can of Japan play in international development in the SDGs era?;
   (3) How to Ddealling / copeing with other development partners?; and
   (4) How can Japan Ccontributeion to Africa development?

 Referring to Chapter 1 of the book, where Mr. KATO aims at providesing a bird’s eye view over Japan’s 60-year history of bilateral and multilateral development cooperation, he contended shows that Japan’s ODA has been successful overall: not only contributing to international development but also helping the country resolve various economic and diplomatic issues of its own at various points in time. He also stressed that despite constant changes (as represented in the changes in the ODA Charter of 1992, 2003 & 2015), “consistent” characteristics have been maintained throughout its history: ex. emphasis on socioeconomic infrastructure and human resource developments, and growth orientation as a means of poverty reduction.

Session 2: Japan and the United Nations: Its Past, Present and Future (Chapter 15) by Dr. HASEGAWA

 With his previous experience as SRSG for Timor-Leste, Dr. HASEGAWA presented the Chapter 15, Japan and the United Nations: It’s Past, Present and Future, which illustrates a critical assessment of Japan’s engagement with the United Nations system. He then presented his argument that Japan first became a benefactor of development and humanitarian assistance and made use of its aid resources for strategic purpose, but then, adopted a more neo-realistic aid approach in its relationship with the UN when charitable diplomacy was found to be insufficient. He also explored thematic areas where Japan has pursued a constructivist approach to address human security, peacebuilding, and African development.

Session 3: 2030 Agenda and Japan by Mr. YAMAGUCHI

 Mr. YAMAGUCHI gave his view on the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, agreed by all member states in September 2015 and how Japan could participate this Agenda. This Agenda is a plan of action for people, planet, prosperity, peace and partnership. Japan’s initiatives aim to forge ambitious and necessary plan of actions in various fields, focusing on Goal 1: End poverty in all its forms everywhere; Goal 3: ensure healthy lives and promote well-being for all at age; Goal 4: ensure inclusive and equitable quality education and promote lifelong learning opportunities for all; Goal 5: achieve gender equality and empower all women and girls; Goal 9: build resilient infrastructure, promote inclusive and sustainable industrialization and foster innovation; Goal 11: make cities and human settlements inclusive, safe, resilient and sustainable. Japan’s ODA will promote development cooperation and serve as a catalyst for mobilizing a wide range of resources in cooperation with various funds and actors and as an engine to contribute proactively to the peace, stability and prosperity of the international community. To achieve these implementations, building new Global Partnership is the key: all member states (developed and developing) and all stakeholders (CSOs, private sectors, academia and media).

 The presentations were followed by comments and questions made by several Japanese and foreign academic researchers and scholars out of the total number of about 40 participants of the book launch.

(*This report was filed by Mr. Shintaro Higashiyama of the Tokyo University of Foreign Studies.)

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