The Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) uses an array of development assistance schemes to meet diverse needs of developing countries around the world. As one of the schemes, technical cooperation contributes human resource development through utilizing Japan's technology, skills and knowledge. JICA's Training and Dialogue Programs are a form of technical cooperation that JICA carries out in Japan. Much of the knowledge accumulated in Japanese society can be understood only by actually visiting Japan. An example of this is the unique way of forming social systems and organizational structures, the so-called "Japanese model." If "seeing is believing," then experiencing is understanding. By actually visiting Japan, people from developing countries come to a setting surrounded by Japanese society and its organizations, where they can discuss the hardships in their home countries and develop an understanding of social conditions and values very different from their own. This experience imparts valuable knowledge that could be obtained in no other way.
In addition to providing unique knowledge, this sort of technical cooperation stimulates people to draw inferences on their own, which is crucial element for human resource development along with other assistance schemes. JICA's Training and Dialogue Programs are therefore a major component of Japan's international cooperation programs, receiving nearly 10 thousand participants each year. The majority of the participants are affiliated with a governmental or public organization, though the number of people from non-governmental organizations (NGOs) has been increasing in recent years.
Japan has enlisted cooperation from a wide range of levels including national and local governments, universities, non-profit organizations, private companies and NGOs, creating a system capable of responding to any sort of need from advanced technology to expertise in vitalizing villages. In terms of scale and available resources, there is no other program in the world that can compare to JICA's Training and Dialogue Programs, which have become one of the cornerstones of Japan's international cooperation.
JICA's Training and Dialogue Programs themselves have three components. Projects for Country Focused Training and Dialogue are carried out in response to a specific request from a developing country. Training and Dialogue Programs originate as a proposal from Japan to a developing country and are carried out only after a corresponding request is received. The third component is the Training Program for Young Leaders, which focus on training young leaders to lead the next generation. Of these, the Training and Dialogue Programs are the rare form among Japan's official development assistance (ODA) because they are based on a request from a developing country. They are used as a strategic and effective means of communicating Japan's values internationally in such areas as disaster prevention and environmental conservation.
Japan has a history of fusing its national character with learning from other countries. Through a process of trial and error, Japan has adopted foreign knowledge and technology, becoming proficient at adapting it to the particular circumstances in Japan. The concept is summed up in the phrase wakon yosai, meaning "Japanese spirit, Western learning." Although all nations borrow and apply foreign knowledge, Japan's experience in doing so is particularly unique and includes many lessons that may be useful to the people of developing countries who are seeking to build their own nation to embrace globalization. JICA's Training and Dialogue Programs are expected to play an increasingly important role in Japan's international cooperation as a means to effectively transmit Japan's unique experiences.