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    Japan to revise ODA policy to focus on economic security

    ANN/THE JAPAN NEWS – The government plans to revise the Development Cooperation Charter, which sets guidelines for Japan’s official development assistance (ODA) to developing countries, in the first half of next year with a focus on economic security, The Yomiuri Shimbun has learned.

    According to sources, the government intends to make strategic use of ODA by specifying its stance to seek a free and open Indo-Pacific and strengthen economic security loans.

    A panel of experts will be established soon, and draft revisions will be drawn up by the end of this year, the sources said. If the revisions are made, they will represent the first changes to the charter in eight years.

    The Japanese government will promote in the revised charter a free and open Indo-Pacific, which is not mentioned in the current edition.

    Japan also intends to include measures to reinforce supply chains, in response to the global food crisis and energy shortages largely caused by Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, as well as supply chain disruptions caused by the novel coronavirus pandemic.

    Japan’s ODA budget has been on a downward trend since its peak of JPY1.1687 trillion in fiscal 1997. In fiscal 2022, the figure almost halved to JPY561.2 billion. Given its difficult fiscal situation, Japan is unlikely to boost funding significantly.

    “It’s necessary to select and focus on appropriate measures,” a senior Foreign Ministry official said.

    In anticipation of revising the charter, the Foreign Ministry has requested an ODA budget of about JPY110 billion for fiscal 2023, up about JPY20 billion from this fiscal year, to help realise a free and open Indo-Pacific.

    A woman wearing a face mask walks out of a pedestrian overpass in Tokyo. PHOTO: AP
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