Japan

Japan prioritises self-reliant development and the mutual benefits to be gained from development co-operation for Japan and its partner countries. Drawing on its experience and expertise, it tackles poverty, environmental degradation and economic growth, respecting partner countries’ ownership and promoting development that builds on social and cultural values. Total official development assistance (ODA) (USD 17.6 billion, preliminary data) increased in 2021, representing 0.34% of gross national income (GNI). ODA increases exceeded COVID-19 vaccine donations.

Find the methodological notes behind the profile here.

The 2015 Development Cooperation Charter underscores the mutual benefits of peace and security, and is aligned with the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). Japan seeks to reduce poverty and leave no one behind, including by helping to improve local capacity to grow the economy through technological and financial co-operation. Its development co-operation is primarily delivered through partner governments. The Japan International Cooperation Agency’s (JICA) 5th Medium-Term Plan (2022-2026) addresses infrastructure and economic growth, human-centred development, universal values and peacebuilding, and global issues.

Japan recognises multilateral partners’ expertise, impartiality, wide networks, capacity for effective and efficient co-operation in sectors or regions less accessible in bilateral co-operation, and the opportunity for synergies between multilateral and bilateral co-operation. In striving for the realisation of a free and open Indo-Pacific, Japan seeks to establish a rules-based international order by promoting fundamental principles such as the rule of law, freedom of navigation and free trade, pursuing economic prosperity with connectivity and building commitment to peace and stability. Japan is a strong proponent of quality infrastructure investment.

The 2020 OECD-DAC peer review praised Japan’s whole-of-society approach to implementing the SDGs and recognised Japan as a global champion of disaster risk reduction. It recommended that increasing ODA could strengthen Japan’s leadership and commitment to the SDGs and that a mechanism would help ensure coherence between domestic policies and global sustainable development objectives. Whole-of-government country policies would ensure synergies across Japan's portfolio and it could be more explicit about how programmes reduce poverty. More streamlined systems and procedures would make Japan a more agile donor Learn more about Japan’s 2020 DAC peer review. Japan’s next mid-term review is planned for 2023.

Japan provided USD 17.6 billion (preliminary data) of ODA in 2021,1 representing 0.34% of GNI. This was an increase of 12.1% in real terms in volume and an increase in share of GNI from 2020. Japan’s ODA has risen steadily over the past decade, almost doubling in volume (a 95% increase in total net ODA), and as a share of GNI. Japan is mindful of the need to achieve the 0.7% ODA/GNI target, but has not set a domestic target. Within Japan’s ODA portfolio in 2020, 39.3% was provided in the form of grants and 60.7% in the form of non-grants.2

In 2021, Japan ranked 3rd in terms of ODA volume and 12th among Development Assistance Committee (DAC) countries when ODA is taken as a share of GNI. The bulk of Japan’s ODA is delivered bilaterally through the public sector, with just under half going to least developed countries (LDCs) and lower middle-income countries, mainly in Asia and Africa. A high share (36% of gross bilateral ODA) went to fragile contexts in 2020. Japan’s ODA investments are primarily in economic infrastructure and services, and it has a high share of bilateral country programmable aid (81.7%).

Japan is committed to several international targets and Development Assistance Committee standards and recommendations. Learn more about DAC recommendations.

Japan provided a most of its ODA bilaterally in 2020. Gross bilateral ODA was 83.2% of total ODA. Ten per cent of gross bilateral ODA was channelled through multilateral organisations (earmarked contributions). Japan allocated 16.8% of total ODA as core contributions to multilateral organisations.

In 2020, Japan provided USD 3.0 billion of gross bilateral ODA for the COVID-19 response, representing 17.6% of its total gross bilateral ODA. Five per cent of total gross bilateral ODA was provided as health expenditure within the COVID-19 response.

In 2020, Japan provided USD 5.2 billion of gross ODA to the multilateral system, a fall of 7.1% in real terms from 2019. Of this, USD 3.4 billion was core multilateral ODA, while non-core contributions were earmarked for a specific country, region, theme or purpose. Project-type funding that is earmarked for a specific theme and/or country accounted for 14.8% of Japan’s non-core contributions and 85.2% was programmatic funding (to pooled funds and specific-purpose programmes and funds).

Seventy per cent of Japan’s total contributions to multilateral organisations in 2020 was allocated to the United Nations (UN), other multilateral institutions and the World Bank Group.

The UN system received 31.6% of Japan’s gross ODA to the multilateral system, mainly through earmarked contributions. Out of a total volume of USD 1.6 billion to the UN system, the top three UN recipients of Japan’s support (core and earmarked contributions) were: the UNDP (USD 310.1 million), UNICEF (USD 212.6 million) and the WFP (USD 170.8 million).

See the section on Geographic and sectoral focus of ODA for the breakdown of bilateral allocations, including ODA earmarked through the multilateral development system. Learn more about multilateral development finance.

In 2020, Japan’s bilateral spending increased compared to the previous year. It provided USD 16.9 million of gross bilateral ODA (which includes earmarked contributions to multilateral organisations). This represented an increase of 11.7% in real terms from 2019. In 2020, Japan focused most of its bilateral ODA on addressing the industry, innovation and infrastructure; sustainable cities and communities; and health and well-being goals of the UN 2030 Agenda.

In 2020, country programmable aid was 81.7% of Japan’s gross bilateral ODA, compared to a DAC country average of 49.7%. The majority of Japan’s country programmable aid was delivered through project-type interventions (76.2%) and budget support (19.3%).

Japan is a pioneer in South-South and triangular cooperation, having started “third country training programmes” in 1975. Japan has dispatched more than 80,000 participants to these programmes from 1981 to 2020.

In 2020, Japan channelled bilateral ODA mainly through the public sector (82.8%) and multilateral organisations, as earmarked funding (10.3%). Technical co-operation made up 8.1% of gross ODA in 2020.

In 2020, civil society organisations (CSOs) received USD 217.6 million of gross bilateral ODA. One per cent of gross bilateral ODA was allocated to CSOs as core contributions and 0.4% was channelled through CSOs to implement projects initiated by the donor (earmarked funding). From 2019 to 2020, the combined core and earmarked contributions for CSOs decreased as a share of bilateral ODA, from 1.6% to 1.3%. Learn more about ODA allocations to and through CSOs, civil society engagement in development co-operation, and the DAC Recommendation on Enabling Civil Society in Development Co-operation and Humanitarian Aid.

In 2020, Japan’s bilateral ODA was primarily focused on Asia and Africa. USD 10.3 billion was allocated to Asia and USD 1.8 billion to Africa, accounting respectively for 61.2% and 10.5% of gross bilateral ODA. USD 1.3 billion was allocated to the Middle East (7.8%). USD 137.5 million was allocated to ODA-eligible countries in Europe. Asia and Africa were also the main regional recipients of Japan’s earmarked contributions to multilateral organisations.

In 2020, 58.7% of gross bilateral ODA went to Japan’s top 10 recipients. Its top 10 recipients are in the Asia, Middle East and Africa regions, in line with Japan’s focus on a free and open Indo-Pacific region. The share of gross bilateral ODA that was not allocated by country was 16.2%.

In 2020, the LDCs received 28.0% of Japan’s gross bilateral ODA (USD 4.7 billion). This is slightly above the DAC country average of 24.4%. Japan allocated the highest share of gross bilateral ODA (44.3%) to lower middle-income countries in 2020, noting that 16.2% was unallocated by income group. Japan allocated 2.8% of gross bilateral ODA to small island developing states in 2020, equal to USD 466.0 million.

Support to fragile contexts reached USD 6.1 billion in 2020, representing 35.9% of Japan’s gross bilateral ODA. Four per cent of this ODA was provided in the form of humanitarian assistance, decreasing from 6.9% in 2019, while 2.2% was allocated to peace, a decrease from 3.4% in 2019. Two per cent went to conflict prevention, a subset of contributions to peace, representing an increase from 0.7% in 2019.

Learn more about support to fragile contexts on the States of Fragility platform.

In 2020, economic infrastructure was the largest focus of Japan’s bilateral ODA allocations. Investments in this area accounted for 42.1% of bilateral ODA commitments (USD 9.3 billion), with a strong focus on transport and storage (USD 8.8 billion). ODA for social infrastructure and services totalled USD 5.2 billion, with a focus on water and sanitation (USD 2.2 billion) and health and population policies (USD 1.9 billion). Bilateral humanitarian assistance amounted to USD 629.9 million (2.8% of bilateral ODA). By contrast, earmarked contributions to multilateral organisations focused primarily on social infrastructure and services (53.2%), other macro sectors (27.9%) and humanitarian assistance (15.2%) in 2020.

In 2020, Japan committed USD 8.9 million of bilateral ODA to the mobilisation of domestic resources in developing countries, less than 1% of its bilateral allocable aid. Japan also committed USD 1.0 billion (54% of its bilateral allocable aid) to promote aid for trade and improve developing countries’ trade performance and integration into the world economy in 2020. Japan is among the top 10 providers of aid for trade globally.

In 2020, Japan committed 54.5% of its screened bilateral allocable aid to gender equality and women’s empowerment, as either a principal or significant objective (up from 33% in 2019),3 compared with the 2020 DAC country average of 44.6%. This is equal to USD 9.9 billion of bilateral ODA in support of gender equality. The share of screened bilateral allocable aid committed to gender equality and women’s empowerment as a principal objective was 0.7%, compared with the 2020 DAC country average of 4.8%. Interventions in production, government and civil society and multi-sectoral interventions focus less on gender than other sectors. Japan screens most activities against the DAC gender equality policy marker (94.1% in 2020). Learn more about ODA focused on gender equality, the DAC Network on Gender Equality and the DAC Recommendation on Ending Sexual Exploitation in Development Co-operation.

In 2020, Japan committed 78.6% of its total bilateral allocable aid (USD 15.1 billion) in support of the environment and the Rio Conventions (the DAC country average was 38.8%), up from 46.8% in 2019. Five per cent of screened bilateral allocable aid in 2020 focused on environmental issues as a principal objective, compared with the DAC country average of 10.8%. Seventy-eight per cent of total bilateral allocable aid (USD 15.0 billion) focused on climate change overall, up from 45.8% in 2019 (the DAC country average was 34%). Japan had a greater focus on adaptation (56.6%) than on mitigation (29.8%) in 2020. Learn more about climate-related development finance and the DAC Declaration on Aligning Development Co-operation with the Goals of the Paris Agreement on Climate Change.

The OECD initiative Sustainable Oceans for All shows that Japan committed USD 1.7 billion in support of the conservation and sustainable use of the ocean in 2020, up from USD 33.6 million in 2019. The 2020 value is equivalent to 8.8% of Japan’s bilateral allocable aid. The large increase is mainly due to two large projects to enhance coastal infrastructure in the Philippines which have been marked under the Rio marker for adaptation and have been classified as sustainable ocean economy ODA. Learn more about development co-operation in support of a sustainable ocean economy and the data platform on development finance for a sustainable ocean economy.

Japan provides resource flows to developing countries beyond ODA and makes use of leveraging instruments to mobilise private finance for development.

Japan uses its ODA and other official development finance to mobilise private finance for development. In 2020, JICA, including through its Leading Asia’s Private Sector Infrastructure Fund (LEAP Fund) at the Asian Development Bank, and the Japan Bank for International Co-operation together mobilised USD 513.2 million from the private sector through syndicated loans, credit lines and to a lesser extent direct investment in companies and special purpose vehicles, and shares in collective investment vehicles.

Almost all (99%) of Japan’s private finance mobilisation targeted middle-income countries in 2020, noting that 1% was unallocated by income.

Private finance mobilised by Japan in 2020 related mainly to activities in the energy (66%); agriculture, forestry and fishing (14%); and industry, mining and construction (13%) sectors. Moreover, 72% of Japan’s total private finance mobilised was for climate change mitigation and/or adaptation.

Learn more about the amounts mobilised from the private sector for development.

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MOFA) has responsibility for co-ordinating the planning of Japan’s development co-operation policies and most contributions to multilateral organisations. JICA has the main responsibility for implementing bilateral ODA. JICA provides grants, Japanese ODA loans and technical co-operation in response to the priorities of each partner country. JICA conducts its operations based on medium-term plans stipulating five-year cycles. The 5th Medium-Term Plan (2022-26) addresses infrastructure and economic growth, human-centred development, universal values and peacebuilding, and global issues.

Japanese civil society organisations are active in development co-operation, humanitarian assistance and global citizenship education. The Japan NGO Center for International Cooperation (JANIC) promotes networking and collaborative activities amongst NGOs engaged in international co-operation.

Internal systems and processes help ensure the effective delivery of Japan’s development co-operation. Select features are provided in Features of Japan’s systems for quality and oversight.

Explore the Monitoring Dashboard of the Global Partnership for Effective Development Co-operation.

Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA): https://www.jica.go.jp/english

Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Japan (MOFA): https://www.mofa.go.jp/policy/index.html

Ministry of Foreign Affaris of Japan (2015), Development Cooperation Charter: For Peace, Prosperity and a Better Future for Everyone: https://www.mofa.go.jp/files/000067701.pdf

JICA (2021), Japan International Cooperation Agency, Annual Report: https://www.jica.go.jp/english/publications/reports/annual/2021/fp4rrb000000sky0-att/2021_all.pdf

Japan NGO Center for International Cooperation: http://link.janic.org/en

Japan’s practices on the Development Co-operation TIPs: Tools Insights Practices learning platform: https://www.oecd.org/development-cooperation-learning?tag-key+partner=japan#search

Member of the OECD Development Assistance Committee since 1960.

The methodological notes provide further details on the definitions and statistical methodologies applied, including the grant-equivalent methodology, core and earmarked contributions to multilateral organisations, country programmable aid, channels of delivery, bilateral ODA unspecified/unallocated, bilateral allocable aid, the gender equality policy marker, and the environment markers.

Notes

← 1. DAC members adopted the grant-equivalent methodology starting from their reporting of 2018 data as a more accurate way to count the donor effort in development loans. See the methodological notes for further details.

← 2. Non-grants include sovereign loans, multilateral loans, equity investment and loans to the private sector.

← 3. The use of the recommended minimum criteria for the marker by some members in recent years can result in lower levels of aid reported as being focused on gender equality.

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