December 7, 2009
Japan and China should foster closer bilateral and international links to help tackle such global problems as climate change and the rapid spread of infectious diseases, according to JICA President Mrs. Sadako Ogata.
Mrs. Ogata spent one week, her first visit to the country for three years, touring northeast China and visiting Beijing before returning home Saturday (December 5).
She viewed JICA-related projects in Liaoning and Jilin provinces and in the capital, met a series of provincial officials, government ministers, experts in such fields as health and technology as well as Chinese personnel who had attended training courses in Japan or were about to do so.
At Beijing’s Tsinghua University Friday she was invited to deliver one of the school’s ‘Global Vision’ lectures and took the opportunity to review development relations between the two countries and outline proposed future cooperation.
Japan, she noted, had been active in China itself for three decades and with assistance totaling some 3.6 trillion in yen loans, grant aid and technical assistance, had helped the country to build some of its basic infrastructure such as ports, harbors, sewage plants, medical and technology facilities as well as providing equipment. Some 20,000 Chinese had also attended training courses in various fields in Japan.
Now it was time to move ahead in relations, Mrs. Ogata said. Looking forward to the futures, the JICA president said that in addition to ties between the two governments, it was time to strengthen links in other areas including local government, private companies, universities, non governmental organizations (NGOs) and the general public.
China and Japan should also liaise more closely in the international development field where the world faced increasingly critical problems such as climate change and the spread of infectious diseases.
Japan is one of the world’s largest ‘traditional’ development donors, but Mrs. Ogata noted that as China’s economy developed strongly in recent years it, too, was becoming seriously involved in development assistance to some of the world’s most vulnerable people.
She has repeatedly emphasized for several years that key to combating these crises was closer cooperation between donors themselves, including newly emerging players such as China, India and Brazil and she took the opportunity of her China visit to re-emphasize this point.
JICA, for instance, is working closely with Asian and African nations to help transfer some of the experiences and lessons learned during Asia’s recent economic and agricultural renaissance to emerging nations in Africa.
After Japanese experts and financial assistance helped transform swathes of Brazil’s cerrado high plateau into an agricultural giant starting in the 1970s, the two countries recently announced a joint project to attempt a similar transformation in the southern African state of Mozambique.
China has been particularly active in Africa in the last several years and in the past Mrs. Ogata said she saw China as a partner and not a competitor in such areas.
Mrs. Ogata also emphasized to her audience the importance of ‘human security’ in JICA’s work. It is a concept she helped develop in the 1990s which emphasizes the importance of ensuring the full participation of local communities in helping to develop and then receiving the full rewards of projects in such fields as health, education and poverty alleviation.
During her visit to the northeast, a vice governor of Liaoning Province, Mr. Teng Weiping, said JICA had been instrumental in ensuring the region’s rapid economic development with its financial and technical assistance and looked forward to continuing support in such areas as science, technology, hygiene and environmental issues.
One of her last activities before flying back to Japan was to review JICA’s involvement in a project to tackle environmental problems in and around the capital.