Japanese catch-up experiences since Meiji modernization and with post-war economic development have been characterized by learning and internalization of Western technologies and knowledge, accompanied by efforts to adapt them into Japanese own culture and system. We call this process “translative adaptation”. Moreover, Japanese industrial policies have a unique feature of real sector concern, with focus on industry structure and components of the market economy such as human resources, technologies, and firms. This “ingredients approach” can be contrasted to the (often Western) “framework approach,” which focuses on rules and functions of the market economy. These experiences and perspectives underlie Japanese industrial development cooperation, an area where Japan including JICA has accumulated its own expertise. In addition, Japanese development cooperation emphasizes respecting ownership of the counterparts of developing countries and co-creating workable solutions rather than forcing them to apply normative prescriptions. This “hands-on” or “knowledge co-creation” development cooperation approach is likely to assist self-sustaining capacity development and “translative adaptation” of Japanese experience in developing countries.
Nevertheless, those characteristics of Japanese development cooperation are not sufficiently recognized by governments in developing countries or other donors. The “framework” or “normative” approach, which encourages direct application of the best practices composed in developed countries, is more prevalent even in the field of industrial development, although there is much room for utilizing Japanese development cooperation experience.
Therefore, this research project aims to identify the characteristics of Japanese experiences of industrial development and development cooperation by conducting an analysis of the “translative adaptation” processes of its development cooperation programs and projects, beyond the simple exhibition of successful cases. We focus on three key fields: (i) industrial policies, (ii) skill development, and (iii) productivity improvement. We target areas of Southeast Asia, Sub-Saharan Africa and Latin America where Japan and Western countries have conducted many development cooperation projects or programs in the above fields. We plan to publish three English reports as intermediary outputs, then books in both English and Japanese as final outputs.