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HOME  > Past issues  > 2020 August 5 - 11  > Japan should change its ODA policy to one truly contributing to poverty reduction
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2020 August 5 - 11 [POLITICS]

Japan should change its ODA policy to one truly contributing to poverty reduction

August 8, 2020

Akahata editorial (excerpts)

Local opposition has led to the cancellation of the agricultural development "ProSavana project" in Mozambique, an Official Development Assistance (ODA) program initiated by Japan. Japan and Brazil under the program intended to help the Mozambique government promote large-scale agriculture and build a production hub for cereals for export. It was a matter of course that the project ignoring local opinion would be halted.

The project started in 2011 with about 3.5 billion yen in Japanese taxpayers' money. Local farmers, however, opposed this project and Japanese civil society groups supported their opposition movement. They said, "The project is depriving local peasants of their land and water and pushing them into further poverty." Representatives of local farmers came to Japan to urge the Japanese government to drop the project. Many Dietmembers, including Japanese Communist Party lawmakers, also demanded a discontinuation of the project.

The Mozambican farmers criticized the project for taking no heed of local opinion, and said that several anti-project farmers and residents have been subjected to human rights violations such as physical violence and intimidation. In addition, it was revealed that the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA), Japan's ODA implementing organization, had used a local consultancy to exclude opponents in order to divide local citizens. The Mozambican Bar Association then filed a lawsuit against the project, claiming that it violates the public's "right to know" as called for in the Mozambican constitution. As a result, the court delivered a ruling completely in favor of the lawyers.

The government of Japan led by Prime Minister Abe Shinzo regards ODA as "one of the most important tools in foreign policy". ODA-funded development projects, in the first place, are supposedly fostering international cooperation to support self-reliant development and growth of developing countries. It is totally absurd for Japan to apply ODA as a means to further its own diplomatic policy position.

Japan's ODA budget was 561 billion yen in fiscal 2020, a decrease by half from its peak in fiscal 1997. As an internationally-agreed goal set for developed countries, Japan should increase its ODA budget to 0.7% of Japan's GNI. It should also change its ODA policy to one truly contributing to promoting self-sustaining development of developing countries and to reducing poverty.

Past related article:
> Local protest wins cancellation of Japan’s ODA-funded development program in Mozambique [July 29, 2020]
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