Subject: [cwj 124] Japan still No. 1 ODA donor
From: Corporate Watch in Japanese <>
Date: Fri, 20 Oct 2000 19:05:52 -0700
Seq: 124

The Japan Times: Oct. 21, 2000

Japan still No. 1 ODA donor 
Strong yen responsible for ninth year as top provider

Japan's official development assistance of $15.32 billion in 1999
made it the world's top donor to developing countries for the ninth
consecutive year, according to an annual report on ODA endorsed
Friday by Cabinet.

Dollar-denominated ODA made a record year-on-year rise of 44
percent, due mainly to the $3.3 billion contributed to the Asian
Development Bank to help Asian countries recover from their
economic crisis, the report says.

The yen's sharp rise in the currency market also helped boost the
value of ODA in dollar terms. In yen terms, the ODA amounted to
1.745 trillion yen, up 25.3 percent.

ODA to Asian countries grew 23.4 percent to $6.63 billion,
accounting for 63.2 percent of Japan's overall bilateral assistance,
up from 62.4 percent in 1998. Africa received 9.5 percent of the
total, followed by Central and South America with 7.8 percent and
the Middle East with 5.2 percent.

By country, Indonesia was the single biggest recipient, getting
$1.605 billion. China followed with $1.225 billion.

In terms of the ratio of ODA to gross national product, Japan
ranked seventh among the 22 member countries of the
Development Assistance Committee of the Organization for
Economic Cooperation and Development at 0.35 percent, up from
0.28 percent in 1998. Denmark ranked No. 1 at 1 percent, and the
United States was last at 0.1 percent.

Loans accounted for 32.2 percent of Japan's ODA, technical
assistance 20.8 percent and grants-in-aid 15.2 percent.
Disbursement for international organizations -- such as the U.N.
Development Program and UNICEF -- accounted for 31.8

The report focuses on how the latest medium-term ODA policy
was carried out in 1999, the Foreign Ministry said.

The policy guideline, announced in August 1999, sets goals for
Japan's ODA over the five-year period from fiscal 1999 through
2003. These goals include providing assistance to Asia and
promoting education, health care and empowerment of women in
all regions.

The report says Japan's ODA earmarked for education enabled
some 1.2 million children in 13 countries to study at school in
1999, through assistance in building schools, providing equipment
and training teachers.

Japan also helped provide safe water to 20 million people in 19
countries through drainage and well projects.

The report also mentions developments after the policy guidelines
were announced, including providing $3 billion to fight infectious
disease and $15 billion to reduce the digital divide between
developing and developed countries in the next five years, both of
which were announced at the Group of Eight summit in Okinawa
in July.

The report also notes that the government set up an expert panel to
review yen-loan policies.

The government also established an ODA monitoring system under
which private representatives from each prefecture visit
developing countries and inspect how ODA projects are being
carried out, an effort aimed at informing and securing the
understanding of ordinary people with regard to ODA spending,
the report says.

Focus shifts to poverty

The World Bank is increasingly focusing on combating poverty in
developing nations -- as opposed to simply helping their economies
grow -- as the number of poor people in the world continues to
rise, a high-ranking official of the bank said Friday.

Gary Perlin, senior vice president and chief financial officer of the
World Bank, told a public forum in Tokyo that the challenges
facing the bank have changed dramatically in the last few decades.

Of the world's population of some 6 billion, nearly half -- 2.8
billion -- live on less than $2 a day. This means the traditional
formula of development assistance, such as lending money to poor
countries to build dams and roads, is no longer sufficient, he said.

The globalization of financial markets and the resulting increase in
inflow of private sector capital has also changed the role of
public-sector financial institutions, Perlin said.

While private-sector involvement in such areas as
telecommunications and information technology is spurring
economic growth in some developing countries, poverty within
these countries persists, he said.

"In an environment (where) the private sector in developed
countries is willing to lend to the private sector in developing
countries, the aspect that may not otherwise be addressed is that
of fighting poverty," he said. "It's still a public-sector interest."

To alleviate poverty, Perlin said it is crucial to listen directly to the
needs of the poor and let them map out their own development
strategies instead of forcing a formula made by rich nations upon

The forum attracted some 200 participants from a wide range of
backgrounds, including representatives from nongovernmental
organizations, academics and financial institutions. 

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