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ECONOMY > External Relations

Some cast doubt on new JICA department for infrastructure export

  • February 28, 2017
  • , P. 93
  • JMH Translation

Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA), which is tasked by the government to carry out Japan’s official development aid programs, plans to establish a new department within the agency to support infrastructure exports, which the administration promotes. Even before the department’s launch, however, opinions inside JICA have been divided over its creation.

 

The new department will be tentatively called “Department for Export of High-Quality Infrastructure.” The department will be headed by Seiichi Onodera, a deputy director-general with a special commission who has been on loan from the Ministry of Land, Infrastructure, Transport and Tourism since last October. The new department’s core operation will be providing long-term, low-interest yen loans for developing countries and increase Japan’s involvement in infrastructure projects such as power plants, railroad, and port facilities. Last October, JICA Director Shigeru Kimura took the post of Special Advisor to the Cabinet, inviting speculation that the creation of the new department as well as the choice of its head has been an initiative of the administration.

 

There is a concern that although a larger presence for JICA within government organizations will be welcome for the agency, it may cause JICA to deviate from its unique “Japanese” style of development aid. The overemphasis on the hard aspect of aid such as buildings and structures may squeeze out the soft aspect of developmental aid including education and healthcare.

 

Japan lags far behind China in construction exports. Since any form of development aid is covered by the Japanese people’s tax money, we hope the officials concerned will make a wise decision.

 

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