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Where can Japanese Official Development Assistance add value?

Briefing/policy papers

Written by Alina Rocha Menocal, Leni Wild

Japan has an impressive history as a leading international donor, particularly in parts of Asia. Yet in the second decade of the millennium, the country finds itself at a crossroads as it faces the challenge of a more complex global financial system with powerful new players.

This research addressed this overarching issue in three different phases. Phase One analysed the history and evolution of the Japanese development assistance model and sought to extract its (potential) value added. Phase Two focused on Japan’s engagement in Africa, while Phase Three explored the question of how Japan can enhance its profile and influence in the development field to remain a leader.

This Project Briefing synthesises the main findings and key messages that emerged from this research. It highlights areas where Japan has something distinctive to offer and where it has the potential to add substantial value to international development efforts in a new global context.

In order to realise the potential value-added of Japanese aid, the analysis of this study suggests that Japan should engage in more deliberate efforts to communicate its model. Our research revealed a strong sense that Japan could invest much more in engaging in policy debates. As suggested by our analysis, despite differences in context (with the UK, for instance, having an active pro-international development constituency largely missing in Japan), lessons could be drawn from the UK government’s investments in both policy expertise and in support for research and evidence.

Alina Rocha Menocal and Leni Wild