'The Historical Development of Japanese ODA Policy in the OECD: A Corpus Analysis of DAC Aid Reviews'(Yu Oliver Maemura)

  • #Other Publications and Papers

This paper provides a discussion on the historical development of Japanese ODA policy and practice through a linguistic study of policy documents. The study applies corpus linguistic methods to analyze OECD-DAC Annual Aid Reviews to reveal patterns within relevant texts over three decades (from 1962 to the 1990s). Policy discussions have been generated by interpreting the linguistic patterns in tandem with existing literature on international development aid policy and practice.

Findings have revealed that several theoretical policy narratives that are used to describe Japanese ODA policy are consistent with the linguistic characteristics of OECD policy documents drafted by the Japanese government. While these findings do provide some additional support for existing theories on development cooperation, they are insufficient in providing new insight and a deeper understanding about the history of ODA.

Newer and notable insights and observations into historical trends in Japanese ODA policy have instead been produced through deep readings into counter-intuitive patterns within the data. These include the seemingly politically motivated gaps in the language-use and terminology utilized between the OECD and Japanese authorities; a notable absence of coverage on characteristic policy decisions and actions taken by the Japanese government (i.e., relatively few mentions of China despite being the largest recipient of Japanese ODA); and the discovery that while many have long asserted that Japan’s ODA has identified itself through a strong focus on self-help, the concept itself originated from OECD-DAC discourse.

Keywords: History of ODA, OECD, DAC Annual Review, policy analysis, corpus linguistics

Yu Oliver Maemura
Date of issuance
November 2019
Number of pages
20 page
  • #Japan's Development Cooperation
Research area
Development Cooperation Strategies
Research project