Japan

Japan aims to reduce poverty and leave no-one behind by investing in quality growth and human security. In 2018, bilateral assistance comprised almost three-quarters of official development assistance (ODA), delivered primarily through grants, loans and technical co-operation to the public sector in partner countries. Three-quarters of multilateral ODA was provided as core contributions. The Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MOFA) sets development policy and the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) is responsible for implementation. Private flows from Japan to developing countries provided at market rates are four times greater than Japan’s net ODA.

An OECD-DAC peer review of Japan’s development co-operation is due to be launched in 2020.

The 2015 Development Cooperation Charter underscores the mutual benefits of peace and security, and is well aligned with the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). Japan’s approach is based on respect for country ownership and self-reliant development, and building on Japan’s experience and expertise, basing decisions on partner country needs. Its development co-operation is primarily delivered through partner governments. It recognises multilateral partners’ expertise, impartiality, wide networks, and ability to work where Japan cannot. JICA’s 4th Medium-Term Plan (2017-21) addresses infrastructure and economic growth, human-centred development, universal values and peacebuilding, and global issues.

Japan provided more ODA in 2019 than in the previous year. Total ODA on a grant-equivalent basis stood at USD 15.5 billion (preliminary data), representing 0.29% of Japan’s gross national income (GNI) in 2019.1 The increase of 7.5% in real terms from 2018 was due mainly to an increase in its lending to developing countries. Among DAC member countries, Japan ranked 13th in relation to its ODA/GNI ratio and 4th in relation to ODA volume in 2019. The government is mindful of the need to achieve the 0.7% ODA/GNI target, but has not set a target. Under the cash-flow methodology used in the past, net ODA was USD 11.6 billion in 2019. Within Japan’s gross ODA portfolio in 2019 (USD 18.8 billion), 44.2% was provided in the form of grants and 55.8% in the form of non-grants.2

While the volume of net ODA has remained largely the same since 2013, its ODA levels and ODA/GNI ratio began to rise with the use of the grant-equivalent methodology in 2018. The bulk of Japan’s ODA is delivered bilaterally through the public sector, with just under half going to lower middle-income countries and to fragile contexts, mainly in Asia. Japan’s focus on gender equality and women’s empowerment is stronger in economic infrastructure and services and its support for environment is well above the DAC average. See the methodological notes for details on the definitions and statistical methodologies applied.

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In 2018, Japan provided the largest proportion of its ODA bilaterally. Gross bilateral ODA was 77% of total ODA, of which 10% was channelled through multilateral organisations (earmarked contributions). Core contributions to multilateral organisations were 23% of total ODA.

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In 2018, Japan increased its total support (core and earmarked contributions) to multilateral organisations. It provided USD 5.2 billion of gross ODA to the multilateral system, an increase of 4.1% in real terms from 2017. Of this, USD 4 billion was core multilateral ODA and the rest was earmarked for a specific country, region, theme or purpose. Project aid earmarked for a specific project or purpose (tight earmarking) accounted for 24% of Japan’s non-core contributions, while the remaining 76% was softly earmarked (to pooled funds and specific-purpose programmes and funds).

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In 2018, Japan’s total contribution to multilateral organisations was mainly allocated to the World Bank Group, the United Nations (UN) and regional development banks. These contributions together accounted for 85% of Japan’s total support to the multilateral system. The UN system received 26% of total multilateral contributions, mainly through earmarked contributions. Out of a total gross volume of USD 1.3 billion to the UN system, the top three UN recipients of Japan’s support (core and earmarked contributions) were: the United Nations Development Programme (USD 249 million), the World Food Programme (USD 143 million) and the UN Department of Peace Operations (USD 119 million).

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Note: See the list of UN acronyms.

See the section on “Geographic and thematic focus of ODA” for the geographical and thematic breakdown of bilateral allocations earmarked through the multilateral development system. Learn more about multilateral development finance.

In 2018, Japan’s bilateral spending declined compared to the previous year. It provided USD 13.3 billion of gross bilateral ODA (including earmarked contributions to multilateral organisations), which represented a decrease of 13.1% in real terms from 2017.

In 2019, providers of development co-operation started voluntarily reporting to the OECD data on how ODA focuses on the Sustainable Development Goals for 2018 activities. In 2018, Japan focused most of its bilateral ODA on addressing the goal of the UN 2030 Agenda for industry, innovation and infrastructure.

In 2018, country programmable aid was 79% of Japan’s gross bilateral ODA, compared to a DAC country average of 49%.

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Note: NGO: non-governmental organisation.

In 2018, Japan channelled its bilateral ODA mainly through the public sector and multilateral organisations, as earmarked funding.

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Note: NGO: non-governmental organisation; PPP: public-private partnership.

In 2018, civil society organisations (CSOs) received USD 224 million of gross bilateral ODA. One per cent of gross bilateral ODA was allocated to CSOs as core contributions and 0.7% was channelled through CSOs to implement projects initiated by Japan (earmarked funding). Between 2017 and 2018, core and earmarked contributions to CSOs remained stable as a share of bilateral ODA, at 1.7%. Learn more about ODA allocations to and through CSOs and civil society engagement in development co-operation.

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In 2018, Japan’s bilateral ODA was primarily focused on Asia and Africa. USD 8.5 billion was allocated to Asia and USD 1.9 billion to Africa, accounting respectively for 64% and 14% of gross bilateral ODA. USD 219 million was allocated to Oceania and USD 214 million was allocated to ODA-eligible countries in Europe. Asia was also the main regional recipient of Japan’s earmarked contributions to multilateral organisations. Fifteen per cent of gross bilateral ODA was unspecified by region in 2018.

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Bilateral ODA by recipient country

In 2018, 55% 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. The share of gross bilateral ODA that was not allocated by country was 17%.

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In 2018, least developed countries (LDCs) received 25.8% of Japan’s gross bilateral ODA (USD 3.4 billion). This is slightly higher than the DAC country average of 23.8%. Japan allocated the highest share of gross bilateral ODA (45.5%) to lower middle-income countries in 2018, noting that 17% was unallocated by income group. Japan allocated 2.9% of gross bilateral ODA to small island developing states in 2018, equal to USD 383 million.

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Note: LDC: least developed country; LIC: low-income country; LMIC: lower middle-income country; UMIC: upper middle-income country; MADCTs: more advanced developing countries and territories.

Support to fragile contexts reached USD 4.7 billion of gross bilateral ODA in 2018 (42.4% of gross bilateral ODA). Extremely fragile contexts received 23.4% of this amount. Learn more about support to fragile contexts on the States of Fragility platform.

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Note: The chart represents only gross bilateral ODA that is allocated by country.

In 2018, most of Japan’s bilateral ODA was allocated to economic infrastructure and services. Investments in this area accounted for 57% of bilateral ODA commitments (USD 11.1 billion), with a strong focus on transport and storage (USD 9.6 billion) and energy (USD 1.4 billion). ODA for other macro sectors totalled USD 3.2 billion and ODA for social infrastructure and services totalled USD 3.0 billion, with a focus on water supply and sanitation (USD 1.1 billion). Bilateral humanitarian aid amounted to USD 571 million (3% of bilateral ODA). Earmarked contributions to multilateral organisations focused also on other macro sectors and social infrastructure and services in 2018.

In 2018, Japan committed just USD 20 million of ODA to the mobilisation of domestic resources in developing countries, amounting to 0.1% of bilateral allocable aid. Japan also committed USD 12.5 billion (68.6% of bilateral allocable aid) to promote aid for trade and improve developing countries’ trade performance and integration into the world economy in 2018.

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In 2018, Japan committed 66% of its bilateral allocable aid to gender equality and women’s empowerment as either a principal or significant objective (up from 35% in 2017),3 compared with the DAC country average of 42%. This is equal to USD 11.2 billion of bilateral ODA commitments in support of gender equality. Out of this, the share of bilateral allocable aid committed to gender equality and women’s empowerment as a principal objective was 1%, compared with the DAC country average of 4%. Excepting population and reproductive health, a significantly higher share of interventions on economic infrastructure and services addresses gender equality than those on social infrastructure. Japan screens virtually all activities against the gender marker (93.2% in 2018). Learn more about ODA focused on gender equality and the DAC Network on Gender Equality.

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In 2018, Japan committed 56% of its bilateral allocable aid (USD 10.1 billion) in support of the environment as either a principal or significant objective, up from 52% in 2017 (the DAC country average was 33%). Fifteen per cent focused on environmental issues as a principal objective, compared with the DAC country average of 11%. Fifty-three per cent (USD 9.6 billion) focused on climate change as either a principal or significant objective, up from 39% in 2017 (the DAC country average was 26%). Japan has a greater focus on mitigation (45% in 2018) than on adaptation (9%). Learn more about climate-related development finance.

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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. The Japan International Cooperation Agency (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 4th Medium-Term Plan (2017-21) addresses infrastructure and economic growth, human-centred development, universal values and peacebuilding, and global issues

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Japan conducts evaluations of its development co-operation to enhance its transparency and accountability and to improve its management, as stated in its Development Cooperation Charter adopted by Cabinet in 2015. Japan’s evaluation standards and ODA Evaluation Guidelines are based on the DAC Criteria for Evaluating Development Assistance. The independence and impartiality of its evaluations are secured by conducting third-party evaluation by academia, experts and/or consultants who are independent from both providers and recipients of ODA.

Both MOFA and JICA have a division or department responsible for evaluation with interlinkages between them. MOFA’s ODA Evaluation Division is independent from policy and implementation of ODA, and is headed by an external expert. Furthermore, MOFA’s ODA evaluations are conducted by third-party evaluators selected by open competitive biddings, thereby ensuring impartiality and expertise.

The Evaluation Department of JICA is mainly responsible for planning and implementing project evaluations for technical co-operation, Japanese ODA loans and grant aid projects throughout a project’s PDCA (Plan, Do, Check, Act) cycle. JICA also conducts ex-post evaluations by third-party evaluators (external evaluations) for projects with a scale of more than JPY 1 billion, and MOFA conducts internal ex-post evaluations for projects with a scale between JPY 200 million and JPY 1 billion. Additionally, within the Advisory Committee on Evaluation, external experts discuss JICA’s evaluations and provide advice and recommendations to enhance the evaluation quality, strengthen feedback of evaluation results, and ensure accountability. Learn more about evaluation in Japan.

MOFA’s ODA Evaluation Division prepares an annual evaluation plan, which is approved by the management of the Minister’s Secretariat. In the 2020-21 financial year, MOFA intends to conduct a review of its past ODA evaluations, in addition to evaluations of Japan’s assistance to Brazil, Mongolia and Rwanda and grant aid projects to Jordan and Mozambique. JICA’s evaluation work plan is approved by JICA’s Director General of the Evaluation Department.

Visit the DAC Evaluation Resource Centre website for evaluations of Japanese development co-operation.

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

2020 OECD-DAC peer review of Japan (forthcoming): https://www.oecd-ilibrary.org/development/oecd-development-co-operation-peer-reviews_23097132

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

Member of the OECD Development Assistance Committee (DAC) 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.

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

← 2. All 2019 statistics in this paragraph are expressed in current prices and, therefore, they may differ from values in the ODA volume chart, which uses constant prices. 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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https://doi.org/10.1787/2dcf1367-en

© OECD 2020

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