The new president of the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) wants to create a framework that would allow for working together with China in providing assistance to developing nations.
"We want to cooperate aggressively with China's assistance agencies," said Akihiko Tanaka. "We have sent JICA research staff to China to seek out ways of conducting joint research."
Tanaka, 57, took over the independent administrative agency that coordinates Japan's official development assistance (ODA) from Sadako Ogata in April. Before assuming the post, he served as director of University of Tokyo's Institute for Advanced Studies on Asia and vice president of the University of Tokyo. He is a scholar of international politics.
"Because China's assistance to developing nations is linked to its strategy for obtaining natural resources, there are some instances in which the recipient nation does not welcome it," Tanaka said. "Cooperation between Japan and China will also be important in demonstrating to the international community that China is a responsible player."
One measure toward a framework between both countries is the co-hosting of a seminar by the end of 2012 with the Chinese Academy of International Trade and Economic Cooperation, which is affiliated with the Chinese Commerce Ministry.
The two agencies will hold the seminars in Tokyo and Beijing on an alternating basis.
The measure is designed to give Japan the initiative in creating such a framework while China increases its assistance to developing nations.
Tanaka said finding the best mix that matched the needs of recipient nations with grant aid, yen loans and technical cooperation in the ODA provided by the government would be important.
He pointed to a project on the island of Mindanao of the Philippines as a potential model case. Since 2006, the government has dispatched JICA staff members to the economic development department of the international unit monitoring the ceasefire on the island between an Islamic separatist group and government forces. One form of technical cooperation that has been provided is the promotion of rice farming practices.
"It would be an example of a successful best mix of assistance measures if yen loans could be used to construct social infrastructure such as roads and harbors," Tanaka said.
Meanwhile, in an interim report compiled in April between Japan and the United States in revising the realignment of the U.S. military in Japan, Tokyo clearly said various measures would be implemented to strategically utilize its ODA, including providing patrol vessels.
On that point, Tanaka said, "While I am not in a position to evaluate that wording, it is possible to use ODA as a means of creating a framework that would prevent unnecessary international conflicts as a way of contributing toward peace and stability in the region."
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