The history of Japan’s official development assistance can be divided into four distinct periods in which objectives have diversified and institutional arrangements have evolved. However, these objectives ranging, from Japan’s own economic development, poverty reduction, the promotion of democracy and a market economy, to the solution of global issues such as environmental degeneration, have remained juxtaposed without being prioritized on the basis of a national philosophy of international cooperation. The diversity of the ODA goals has been perpetuated by the lack of a unified entity that manages ODA. At the same time, such diversity without clearly defined priorities has reinforced poor coordination among ministries and agencies involved in ODA. In recent years, the international trend of development assistance has shifted from a strong emphasis on poverty reduction and input-oriented “aid effectiveness” to a greater attention to economic growth and output-oriented“development effectiveness.” This tendency fits the traditional approach of Japan. However, in order to lead the changing world of international assistance, the Japanese government will need to clarify its assistance philosophy, using the concept of human security to prioritize poverty reduction and the three interfaces between poverty reduction and private-sector activity—capacity development, governance reform, and infrastructure development. It will also need to establish an ODA control center under a national-strategy deliberation council independent of any ministries or agencies.
Keywords: ODA, Japan, aid effectiveness, development effectiveness, human security, JICA