Politics and Governance
Recently, we are witnessing more cases where wars, coup d'états and authoritarian administrations are destroying people’s peaceful lives and depriving people not only of the opportunities to pursue great possibilities in life but even their lives themselves. Furthermore, with competition among great powers becoming intense, it is increasingly important for many developing countries to establish a diplomatic environment that is not at the mercy of great powers.
Aware of such circumstances, this research cluster considers what kind of conditions in both domestic and international politics, as well as social mechanisms, allow every person to enjoy human security regardless of one’s country of residence. For instance, we look at norms and institutions, including liberal democracy and the rule of law, which are seen as universal values common to all humankind. Although it is an urgent task to reverse the global trend of liberal-democratic recession, it is important to bear in mind that universal values that are inflexibly defined carry the risk of being used by great powers as a weapon to attack other countries. Also, we will explore what kind of bilateral relationships developing countries are trying to build with great powers such as China, to secure their development and peace, in the face of intensifying great power competition.
Economic Growth and Poverty Reduction
There are still many impoverished people in the world, and poverty reduction remains a fundamental development challenge. In addition, some countries that have achieved a certain level of development are faced with the problem of disparities and delays in social development, and thus it is necessary to achieve not only quantitative economic growth but also quality growth with inclusiveness, sustainability and resilience.
This research cluster is systematizing the concept of quality growth as a theoretical pillar in international discussions, and analyzing the socioeconomic effects of infrastructure projects, one of Japan's major assistance projects for developing countries. In addition, we conduct research on the financial conditions that have a major impact on the domestic economy and the lives of people and provide empirical analyses of agricultural assistance that contribute to further growth and poverty reduction in African countries. To clarify that policies and initiatives in developing countries are effective for economic growth and poverty reduction, we are also conducting evidence-based analysis comparing intervention and non-intervention.
Human development is the process of enlarging people's capabilities and choices so that they can live full, creative and stable lives in freedom and dignity. Receiving an education, living a long and healthy life, and enjoying a good living standard are indispensable for individuals, as well as for socio-economic development of communities.
This is one area where Japan can make full use of its unique know-how cultivated in Japan and through the experience of providing assistance to developing countries during the past few decades. Faced with changes in the global context of human developmt, it is becmoing more important than ever to create evidences and empirical knowledge and disseminate this to the world in a way that will guide the direction of future development policy and strategy.
Key research topics include the history of Japan's international cooperation in education, the impact of studying abroad, and the acceleration of universal health coverage (UHC). Moreover, we aim to strengthen collaboration with global research institutes and expand our intellectual networks.
Peacebuilding and Humanitarian Support
In today's world, various crises threaten people's survival, livelihoods, and dignity. These include armed conflicts, large-scale natural disasters, outbreaks of infectious diseases, and transnational crimes. There are many underlying causes of these crises—such as poverty, discrimination, inequality and climate change—requiring the international community to think and act innovatively and dynamically.
From the perspective of realizing human security and sustaining peace in the face of imminent threats, we attempt to analyze the factors behind these crises in a more systematic way and explore effective approaches to address them through comparative studies of initiatives taken by diverse actors engaged in humanitarian support, sustainable development, and sustaining peace.
In many developing countries, environmental problems such as waste disposal, water pollution, and air pollution are becoming more serious than ever with the progress of economic development, population growth and urbanization. Climate change is also a threat to the stability and prosperity of all the countries of the world and to human security. However, many environmental problems are caused by a combination of complex factors, and it is difficult to find short-term solutions. In addition, the issues often need to be examined, taking account of various aspects such as the scientific analysis of environmental problems and climate change, the design of legal systems, and the implementation of policies. Therefore, it is important to consider how to address environmental problems and climate change in developing countries, and to conduct research based on experience and data obtained from the field of development cooperation while incorporating the latest knowledge and methods accumulated in the field of natural science.
Under these circumstances, this research cluster is studying economic methods for adaptation to climate change and methods for environmental impact assessment in project development. Furthermore, to achieve the SDGs, we have begun research in preparation for policy recommendations on the environment and climate change for ASEAN countries.
Development Cooperation Strategies
Since Japan began its development cooperation activities, the political and economic environment in this country and abroad has changed significantly. Research to guide the future direction of JICA projects and strategies through learning from history and empirical analysis is becoming more important than ever before. This research cluster is focusing on studies that recap the history of Japan's development and development cooperation, as well as those that explore the characteristics of its development cooperation, taking the field of industrial development as an example.
In recent years, an increasing number of emerging countries have started their own development cooperation activities, and this has affected the traditional order of assistance led by developed countries. Under these circumstances, we attempt to conduct research that will contribute to the formation of international norms for future development cooperation and work on cross-sectoral issues, while building networks with researchers in developing countries. We will also take on the challenge of research on new subjects such as peace through sports.