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Positioning Japan’s ODA as a leader in its field

Research report

Written by Leni Wild, Lisa Denney, Alina Rocha Menocal

Research report

This report addresses how Japan can enhance its profile and influence in the development field to remain a leader within an increasingly crowded donor marketplace.

There is limited available literature and analysis on Japan’s role as an influencer – indeed, how donor agencies and governments influence policy debates and communicate effectively remains an under-studied area in general in the field of development. This report therefore relies on the findings from Phases One and Two of this study, a review of those documents which are available and a series of interviews.

It examines some of the common perceptions that UK stakeholders hold of Japan as a donor, and what might explain these perceptions. Drawing on the experience and approach of UK stakeholders in particular to policy influencing and communication, it explores some potential lessons, as well as importance differences, in relation to Japan before setting out a series of recommendations going forward.

What emerges from this research is the overarching view that very little is known or understood about Japan’s approach to ODA and its models/modalities, within the UK and arguably more broadly. The point of this report is not, however, to define an objective ‘truth’ or reality regarding Japan’s ODA (if such a thing exists), nor to attempt to balance Western/UK perceptions with Japanese ‘truths’, which are themselves contextually and culturally grounded. Rather, it is intended to illustrate (a) that such gaps in knowledge and understanding exist; and (b) that there is value for all parties in first recognising these gaps and then seeking to lessen them through improved communication and dialogue.

Leni Wild and Lisa Denney, with Alina Rocha Menocal