Japan Shifts Foreign Aid Policy to Counter China

Japan Shifts Foreign Aid Policy to Counter China

(Photo - Jason Lee-Pool/Getty Images)

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On Friday, Prime Minister Fumio Kishida approved a significant revision to Japan’s development aid policy. The updated policy will focus on maritime and economic security, as well as national interests, while supporting developing nations in tackling challenges in the face of China’s growing global influence.

The revision to the Development Cooperation Charter, which usually occurs every 10 years but was advanced by two years, shows Japan’s urgency in addressing concerns related to China and other global issues, including the impact of Russia’s war on Ukraine.

Under the revised charter, Japan will prioritize efforts to address climate change, food, and energy crises triggered by Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, as well as strengthen maritime security, the tech industry, and the integrity of vital supply chains.

In December, Japan adopted a new National Security Strategy with the goal of doubling defense spending to 43 trillion yen over the next five years to strengthen its military capabilities. This necessitates Japan using its development aid more strategically and effectively, given its tight fiscal conditions. This move was seen as fairly unprecedented in Japan, a nation that has adopted defense and pacifism as core beliefs following WWII.

As part of the new strategy, Japan’s Foreign Ministry has initiated Official Security Assistance (OSA), primarily for the militaries of developing nations in the Indo-Pacific region. According to experts, this assistance is likely to involve the provision of Japanese-made non-lethal equipment, such as radars, antennas, small patrol boats, or infrastructure improvements like ports.

The Foreign Ministry has clarified that OSA differs from assistance under the Development Cooperation Charter, which focuses on non-military cooperation.

In April, the Foreign Ministry allocated 571 billion yen for development aid unrelated to military purposes and an additional 2 billion yen ($15.2 million) to enhance the national security capabilities of Indo-Pacific militaries that share similar values in order to build a bulwark against a perceived Chinese threat.

Japan wishes to aim this assistance at Southeast Asia in an effort to promote shared values and ensure their support against the growing Chinese influence throughout the region. Many of these nations are wary of both China and the United States but wish to play both sides in an effort to gain economically. Japan likely seeks to play a medium between the two powers in order to sustain peace and economic cooperation.

Joshua Paulo
Joshua Paulo
Combining a Criminal Justice and International Relations background, Josh boasts years of experience in various forms of analysis and freelance journalism. He currently spearheads a team of professionals committed to delivering unbiased reporting to provide the public and private sector with accurate and insightful information. Josh serves as Atlas's Director of News.
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