No.12 Yosei-shugi (要請主義): The Mystery of the Japanese Request-based Principle

  • #Discussion Papers

It is intriguing how the request-based principle, which started as little more than a name for project formulation procedures, has come to attain a philosophy-like status in Japanese aid. This paper examines three aspects of this mystery: 1) the context that elevated this practice to the status of a principle (shugi), 2) the basic logic used by the Japanese government to substantiate such a principle, and 3) the effects it had on recipient countries. This paper argues that the request-based principle is a historical vestige that reveals the peculiarity of Japan as a latecomer to the field of foreign aid. The request-based principle has endured as a consistent undercurrent of Japanese aid since the end of the war, but it only attained the status of a principle in the late 1980s. Although the request-based principle no longer serves as a selling point for aid by the Japanese government today, a similar approach has now been adopted by emerging donors such as Thailand and China. By tracing the evolution of aid to practices of the war reparations period in the 1950s, this paper explores how this principle became institutionalized as a defining feature of the “Japanese style” of aid provision.

Keywords: request-based principle, Japanese style of aid provision, aid philosophies, tied aid

Date of issuance
July 2023
Number of pages
Related areas
  • #Asia
  • #Japan's Development Cooperation
Research area
Development Cooperation Strategies