Japan's ODA Historical Path: From Top Donorship to the Decline


Since the September 2001 terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center and Pentagon, the U.S. and all other major industrialized countries, except Japan, have sharply increased ODA (Official Development Assistance) in hopes of reducing poverty in developing countries, which they see as a main factor inflaming Islamic fundamentalism and therefore as the hotbed of terrorism. This is a far cry from the 1990s when all major aid donors but Japan were suffering from 'aid fatigue' in the wake of the Cold War and either cut back on or failed to significantly increase aid. After attending the International Conference of Asian Political Parties in Southwest China's Kunming City (July 17, 2010), Japan has indicated it wants to exit from the system of aiding poor countries. The move comes at a time of weakening U.S. economy, and China's drive to enlarge its role in the arena of aid politics in both Africa and Asia. This paper attempts to explore how is changing Japan's role within the international aid system from a historical perspective aimed to highlight the domestic and structural factors that led to the rise and fall of the country as aid-donor. Particular attention has been paid to the gaiatsu (external pressure) exerted during the Cold War years by the U.S. on the Japanese decision-making process as part of the reassessment of its geopolitical priorities.

DOI Code: 10.1285/i22808949a7n2p3

Keywords: Japan; Foreign Aid Politics; International History; Cold War; New Millennium

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