Volume 21 Issue 5 May 2017


Asia, the world’s largest continent, is often characterised by its long-standing adversities and socio-economic issues. Amidst prevailing penury and widespread destitution, however, there is a hope for those who need it the most.

Japan is the leading country in the Asian region in all standardised perspectives of economic growth and technological advancement. But what makes the East Asian nation truly the leading member of the international community is its lasting vision of a world free from poverty, inequality and turmoil.

It has been the leading giver in a region that is surrounded by a host of beneficiaries and donation recipients and is among the few highly-developed countries that provide financial, technical, educational and capacity-building support to developing and under-developed countries on a consistent basis.

Japan is a founding member, as well as the largest development partner of the Asian Development Bank (ADB). The Government of Japan has been continuously providing strong financial and technical support to the ADB for a host of development projects and programmes across Asia and the Pacific.

It has been the top contributor to ADB’s Special Funds such as the Regional Cooperation and Integration Fund (RCIF), the Technical Assistance Special Fund (TASF), the Asian Development Bank Institute (ADBI), Japan Special Fund (JSF) and the Asian Development Fund (ADF).

With more than $39 billion contribution from Japan, ADB has provided grants, loans and technical assistance to various countries in Asia and the Pacific, says the ADB Factsheet. Since 1966, Japan has committed and contributed $16.07 billion to the ADB’s Special Funds and has contributed $22.98 billion in capital subscription. Since 1967, Japanese companies and consultants have been awarded $5.69 billion in procurement contracts for ADB financed projects, according to the ADB Factsheet.

The ADB is important to Japan the way the International Monetary Fund (IMF is to the European Union (EU) and the World Bank to the United States. Since its establishment in December 1966, all eight presidents of the ADB have been from Japan while seven of them served at the country's Finance Ministry, say Takehiro Masutomo and Chen Qin, economic analysts at CNBC.

The Accelerated Cofinancing Scheme, initiated with Japanese funding in 2007, has financed the expansion of the power sector in Samoa, an island country located in Polynesia. It financed a thermal power station in Uzbekistan, as well as a mega road construction project in Kazakhstan, according to the ADP report ‘Partnership Brief: Co-financing with Japan.’
Japan has provided loans for road upgradation in Georgia and for the construction of a new bridge in Bangladesh. It also provided loans to the Philippines and Indonesia for their governance reforms and ‘Defining the Partnership’ programme. In addition to that, Japan also contributed to an infrastructure fund in Afghanistan.

The Japan Fund for Poverty Reduction (JFPR) happens to be the largest single-donor trust fund launched by the Asian Development Bank. At the beginning of 2011, the net value of the JFPR stood at almost five hundred million US dollars. Over the period, it was further expanded to include technical assistance, which used to be earlier handled by the Japan Special Fund (JSF). Japan’s support for the ADB’s trust funds under the Integration Financing Partnership Facilities and Clean Energy and Regional Cooperation has also been active.

The Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) is a development agency working under the Government of Japan. It was established to coordinate official development assistance for the Japanese government. Japan provides most of its development assistance to developing nations through JICA. In 2008, it successfully completed a series of reforms carried out in different sectors in many Asian countries.

Being the largest bilateral development organization of the world, JICA also provides concessional loans, grants and technical assistance to the region, a responsibility previously handled by the Japan Bank for International Cooperation (JBIC). In terms of official commercial co-financing, loans and grants provided by Japan only, ADB’s total co-financing stood at nearly $8.57 billion in a total of 93 projects at the end of 2010.

Established in 2000, the Japan Fund for Poverty Reduction (JFPR) expanded its scope of grant assistance in 2009, and since then it has been providing technical assistance grants besides project grants. Operating as the primary vehicle for regular Japanese grant assistance and technical assistance, the JFPR tends to be the single largest trust fund within the Asian Development Bank.

A total of 198 JFPR grant projects (equivalent to $228.2 million) and 169 JFPR technical assistance projects (equivalent to $501.5 million) have been approved by the ADB. By December 2015, total JFPR funds amounted to around $702.7 million.
Established in 2008 under the CEFPF (Clean Energy Financing Partnership Facility), the Asian Clean Energy Fund (ACEF) is a single-donor fund established by Japan as part of ESDA (Enhanced Sustainable Development for Asia) initiative. Up to December 2015, total ACEF funds amounted to more than $57 million. The fund supports the ADB’s developing member countries (DMCs) in reducing greenhouse gas emissions by using energy efficiency technologies (EETs) and renewable energy resources. It mostly gives priority to such clean energy programmes that are implemented through Japanese aid agencies.

The Investment Climate Facilitation Fund (ICFF) is another single-donor fund established by Japan in 2008 under the Regional Cooperation and Integration Financing Partnership Facility (RCIFPF). Up to December 2015, total ICFF funds amounted to more than $32.2 million.

The fund has been the leading financier to ADB’s activities, providing technical assistance to DMCs for the promotion of investments and facilitating regional cooperation and integration through promotion of good governance and facilitation of capacity building and investment climate.

Initiated in 2015, the Japan Fund for the Joint Crediting Mechanism (JFJCM) promotes advanced low-carbon technologies in such developing member countries as Afghanistan, Brunei Darussalam, Cambodia, India, etc. Similar to the Japan Fund for Poverty Reduction (JFPR), the Asian Clean Energy Fund (ACEF) and the Investment Climate Facilitation Fund (ICFF), the JFJCM is a single-donor fund supported by Japan and up to December 2015 its total funds amounted to nearly $32.8 million.
Entirely funded by Japan, the Japan Scholarship Program (JSP) is another ADB initiative that helps young scholars in the region to pursue postgraduate studies in business management, economics, science and technology and in other development related subjects.

Since its inception in 1988, Japan has contributed $164.5 million to the programme, which has awarded a total of 3,387 scholarships to recipients from 37 member countries up to 2015. Currently, some 29 institutions in 10 countries across Asia and the Pacific are participating in the programme. Awarding 148 new scholarships on an average every year, women have received more than 1235 scholarships under the initiative.

Among the other multi-donor trust funds supported by Japan are: The Afghanistan Infrastructure Trust Fund (AITF), the Cooperation Fund for Regional Trade and Financial Security Initiative (CFRTFSI), and the Asia Pacific Project Preparation Facility (APPPF).

Being the leading financial contributor to the ADB since its establishment in 1966, Japan is well-committed to achieving the ADB’s goals and objectives and it seems it remain the driving force behind the future growth and development of Asia and the Pacific.

The writer is a member of the staff.
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