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2014年10月31日 (金)

新ODA大綱案 平和目的の軍支援は進めたい

The Yomiuri Shimbun
ODA for peace-oriented activities by armed forces should be allowed
新ODA大綱案 平和目的の軍支援は進めたい

It is important to enhance Japan’s diplomatic power by using its official development assistance more strategically.

Revising the nation’s ODA policy for the first time in 11 years, the government released a draft of a “development cooperation outline” that is to replace the current ODA Charter. The government will then invite public opinions on the draft before seeking Cabinet approval in December.

A main feature of the draft charter is to approve assistance for nonmilitary activities such as the construction of roads and disaster relief by armed forces. The draft says, “the government will pay attention to substantial meanings [of such activities] and study them specifically case by case.”

This reflects a proposal made in June by the ministry’s panel of outside experts. They proposed that the use of ODA for projects with civilian purposes to be carried out by armed forces “should not be categorically rejected.”

Under the current policy, ODA for activities involving military forces are strictly restricted. It is also difficult to offer civilian training to military personnel. In developing countries, however, armed forces are often used to deal with large-scale disasters, the reconstruction of countries and combating the spread of infectious diseases.

We think it is appropriate to use ODA in accordance with such reality.

This envisaged policy change will fit with the “proactive contribution to peace” policy advocated by Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s administration.

As part of activities to help build special capabilities, the Defense Ministry has already been sending members of the Self-Defense Forces to other countries to train armed forces personnel, including in East Timor, where automobile maintenance skills are taught. It is a significant move to improve the efficiency of ODA by combining it with such activities.

Universal values stressed

The draft also emphasizes that Japan’s assistance must be based on universal values such as “freedom, democracy, respect for fundamental human rights and rule of law.” With China in mind, it is appropriate to strengthen partnerships with other countries, including those in Southeast Asia.

As assistance to peace-building activities, the draft lists, for example, helping to enhance developing nations’ capabilities to guard their coastal waters, maintain security and counter terrorism.

Such assistance leads to securing the safety of the sea-lanes that Japan relies on for shipping and transportation and thus contributes to its national interests.

The draft also stipulates that middle-income countries, which no longer qualify to receive ODA according to standards set by the Organization of Economic Cooperation and Development, will be added to the group of countries eligible for ODA. This appears to refer to island countries in the Pacific and the Caribbean that are vulnerable to natural disasters.

The range of Japan’s international contributions could be expanded by defying conventional restrictions on ODA and making its implementation more flexible. That will be an effective diplomatic option to win support for Japan from even more countries regarding reform of the U.N. Security Council and other opportunities.

The draft also incorporates a plan to seek synergistic effects by coordinating the investments and loans of private companies and government-affiliated banks, such as the Japan Bank of International Cooperation, with ODA.

“It is vital for the government and private sectors to jointly help [developing countries] improve infrastructure by using ODA as a catalyst,” said Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga.

We expect that win-win relations could be constructed between Japan and countries receiving its assistance by using ODA as a catalyst to improve the overseas business activities of Japanese corporations.

(From The Yomiuri Shimbun, Oct. 30, 2014)Speech


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