The panel analyzes the Japanese post-Cold War ODA strategy towards Asia. The need to take greater accounts of Japan's national interest has become prominently advocated by Prime Minster Abe. Actual effects are revealed through examination of three case studies: Indonesia, Philippines and Vietnam.
In the past Japan utilized its Official Development Assistance (ODA) primarily to pursue its economic interests. In comparison to other OECD donors, Japan had the highest share of economic infrastructure within its ODA. Furthermore, a high proportion of loans and aid was tied to Japanese companies, a practice that was strongly condemned by other OECD donors. By leaving political and security matters almost completely to the USA, Japan was allowed to focus primarily on its own economic development. However, the stable bipolar world order that ensured a strong US presence in Asia ceased to exist with the fall of the Berlin Wall. It would soon be clear that Japan had to become more proactive in forming the post-Cold War order, especially in Asia. Due to Article 9 of the Constitution, which limits Japan's military engagement, ODA remains one of the key instruments of Japanese foreign policy. Since 1990, various administrations have advocated for a change of Japan's ODA strategy in order to encounter new challenges facing the country. The consideration of politics and security has stood at the center of various debates, and with the Abe administration ODA was even included in Japan's National Security Strategy (NSS), adopted in December 2013. It highlighted that ODA should not be used only for the economic benefit of the country, but also to protect the rule of law, democracy and human rights. To what extent has altering Japan's strategy affected ODA towards Asian countries, and what are the new driving forces behind Japan's foreign aid strategy? This panel aims to answer these complex questions through a longitudinal analysis of Japan's involvement.