Japan

Introduction

The 2015 Development Co-operation Charter commits Japan to making a proactive contribution to peace, and mobilising a wide range of resources for development in addition to official development assistance (ODA). Japan aims to contribute to peace and prosperity, promote human security, and support self-reliant development based on Japan’s experience and expertise. It seeks to achieve quality growth and, through this, poverty eradication. Its assistance supports sharing of universal values such as freedom, democracy, respect for basic human rights and the rule of law in order to realise a peaceful, stable and secure society. Japan’s efforts to address global challenges contribute to building a sustainable and resilient international community. A DAC Peer Review of Japan’s development co-operation commences in 2019.

Official development assistance

Japan is the 4th largest DAC donor in terms of volume and the 16th most generous in terms of its gross national income (GNI). In 2017, 80% of bilateral ODA was programmed with partner countries, compared to the DAC country average of 48%, primarily in Asia, with almost half (49%) allocated to economic services, principally transport and communications and energy.

In 2018, Japan provided USD 14.2 billion in total ODA (preliminary data, current prices), using the new “grant-equivalent” methodology (see the methodological notes for further details) adopted by DAC members on their reporting of 2018 data as a more accurate way to count the donor effort in development loans. This represented 0.28% of GNI. Under the “cash-flow basis” methodology used in the past, 2018 net ODA was USD 10.1 billion, which represented a fall of 13.4% in real terms from 2017, due to a decrease in its contributions to multilateral institutions.

In 2017, Japan’s in-donor refugee costs were USD 0.29 million.

In 2017, the untied share of Japanese total bilateral ODA, excluding technical co-operation, was 93.1%, an increase of 6.9 percentage points from 2016. Japan’s ODA includes a large technical co-operation programme, but Japan does not report its tying status. The share of total Japanese bilateral aid reported as untied was 82.5% in 2017,1 compared with the DAC country average of 82.1%. The grant element of total ODA was 85.4% in 2017. Non-grants represented 54.9% of gross ODA.

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In 2017, 82% of gross ODA was provided bilaterally, of which 11% was channelled through multilateral organisations (multi-bi/non-core contributions). Japan allocated 18% of total ODA as core contributions to multilateral organisations. Learn more about multilateral development finance.

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In 2017, country programmable aid was 80% of Japan’s bilateral ODA, compared with the DAC country average of 48% (see the methodological notes for further details on country programmable aid). Project-type interventions accounted for 89% of this aid.

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In 2017, 82.3% of Japan’s gross bilateral ODA (USD 12.4 billion) was channelled through the public sector. See the methodological notes for further details on channels of delivery.

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In 2017, USD 267 million of gross bilateral ODA was channelled to and through civil society organisations (CSOs). Between 2016 and 2017, ODA channelled to and through CSOs remained stable as a share of bilateral aid (2%). Learn more about ODA allocations to and through CSOs and the Civil Society Days.

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In 2017, bilateral ODA was primarily focused on Asia. USD 5.4 billion was allocated to South and Central Asia, USD 3.5 billion to Far East Asia, USD 1.3 billion to sub-Saharan Africa, and USD 180 million was allocated to Oceania.

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In 2017, 53.05% of gross bilateral ODA went to Japan’s top 10 recipients. In line with its stated use of ODA as a diplomatic tool, Japan has a bilateral programme in 140 countries. Support to fragile contexts reached USD 4.3 billion in 2017 (28.2% of gross bilateral ODA). Learn more about support to fragile contexts.

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In 2017, 23.2% of Japan’s gross bilateral ODA (USD 3.4 billion) was allocated to the least developed countries (LDCs), up from 20% in 2016. The DAC country average for 2017 was 23.5%. Lower middle-income countries received the highest share of bilateral ODA in 2017 (47.2%), noting that 18.6% was unallocated by income group.

At 0.10% of GNI in 2017, total ODA to the LDCs (including imputed multilateral flows) was lower than the UN target of 0.15-0.20% of GNI.

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In 2017, 49% of bilateral ODA commitments was allocated to economic services, for a total of USD 9.9 billion, with a focus on transport and communications (USD 7.8 billion) and energy (USD 2.0 billion). USD 1.5 billion was allocated to water and sanitation as part of social infrastructure and services. Humanitarian aid amounted to USD 846 million. In 2017, Japan committed USD 13.4 million of ODA to support developing countries to raise domestic resources, amounting to 0.07% of bilateral allocable aid. Japan also committed USD 12.5 billion (67.6% of bilateral allocable aid) to promote aid for trade and improve developing countries’ trade performance and integration into the world economy in 2017.

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USD 6.0 billion of gross bilateral allocable ODA supported gender equality. In 2017, 35% of Japan’s bilateral sector-allocable aid had gender equality and women’s empowerment as a principal or significant objective (up from 34% in 2016), compared with the DAC country average of 36%. A high share of Japan’s aid to population and reproductive health focuses on gender. Learn more about ODA focused on gender equality and the DAC Network on Gender Equality.

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USD 9.7 billion of bilateral ODA commitments supported the environment. In 2017, 52% of its gross bilateral allocable aid supported the environment and 39% (USD 7.2 billion) focused on climate change, compared with the respective DAC country averages of 33% and 25%. While the proportion of bilateral allocable aid supporting adaptation increased to 19% in 2017, up from 9% in 2016, the proportion supporting mitigation dropped from 38% to 21%). Learn more about climate-related development finance.

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Other financial flows

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Institutional set-up

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs has responsibility for co-ordinating the planning of development co-operation policies and the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) has the main responsibility for implementation. JICA brings grants, loans and technical co-operation together into a single country envelope, leading to a more strategic and integrated approach focused on country priorities rather than on instruments. 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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Evaluation system

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 donors and recipients of ODA.

Both the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MOFA) and Japan International Cooperation Agency (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. The Evaluation Department of JICA is mainly responsible for planning and implementing project evaluations for technical co-operation, ODA loans, and grant aid projects throughout a project’s PDCA (Plan, Do, Check, Action) cycle. Learn more about evaluation in Japan.

MOFA’s ODA Evaluation Division prepares an annual evaluation plan, which is approved by the Deputy Vice-Minister. JICA’s evaluation work plan is approved by JICA’s Management Board.

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

Performance against the commitments for effective development co-operation

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

Additional resources

2014 DAC Peer Review of Japan: https://www.oecd.org/dac/peer-reviews/peer-review-japan.htm

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

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

Member of the OECD Development Assistance Committee (DAC) since 1960.

← 1. Japan interprets the Accra and Busan commitments on untying to be restricted only to ODA covered by the DAC Recommendation on Untying ODA to Least Developed Countries and Heavily Indebted Poor Countries (OECD, 2008). With respect to the implementation of recommendation, Japan notified the DAC that, in accordance with paragraph 20 of the revised recommendation (DCD/DAC(2018)33/FINAL), it reserves the right to use tied aid as part of its ODA to all non-LDC Highly-Indebted Poor Countries (HIPCs), other low income countries and non-LDC IDA-only countries and territories listed in Annex II of the revised recommendation.

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