Accepted paper:

Rendering invisible?: Japan's ODA in Mekong and 'donorisation' of Thailand


Soyeun Kim (Sogang University)

Paper short abstract:

The paper examines hows and whys of Japan's strong support for South-South Cooperation in Southeast Asia. It does so by exploring how such assistance is historically linked to Japan's efforts to render its ODA 'invisible' with a focus of its assistance for 'donor-isation' of Thailand.

Paper long abstract:

Japan's efforts to support and to scale up/strengthen South-South development cooperation (SSDC) is not entirely a new topic of study (Trinidad 2014 ; Hosono 2015). Yet, what is relatively understudied is hows and whys of Japan's strong support for SSDC - particularly, when compared with its fellow donors. This particular trait becomes more curious when we consider how such support then historically has been linked to the donor's struggle to render its ODA 'faceless' in its key Southeast Asian recipients with the records of violent anti-Japanese riots. Therefore, the study aims to address this knowledge gap by reviewing Japan's past engagement with Thailand's SSDC in Mekong via its own bi-/tri and multi-lateral efforts. In doing so, the paper will provide an in-depth analysis of hows and whys of Japan's strong support for SSDC with a case study of its assistance aimed for 'donorisation(donā-ka)' of Thailand. It enables us to understand rendering its ODA invisible not simply as an exclusive process of/by Japan but as a mutual process shaped by both Japan and Thailand and riddled with complexity.

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