Money for ODA comes from taxes paid by Japanese people

LEADING the world with trust is the vision statement of JICA, the Japan International Co-operation Agency. JICA delivers Japan’s bilateral and technical assistance around the globe under the broad banner of Overseas Development Assistance (ODA). This is generally termed Japan’s Co-operation in recipient countries.

Money for ODA comes from taxes paid by the Japanese people. Japan has become the world’s largest bilateral aid donor and JICA as the delivery agency has 100 offices globally.

In Oceania region, my country, Papua New Guinea (PNG) first received Japan co-operation in 1974, a year before we became independent from Australia. This first project was the establishment of a National Fisheries Training College at Kavieng, the capital of New Ireland Province in the New Guinea islands. New Ireland is near New Britain Island.

Japan’s economic base from the beginning of its road to modernization has been fish. So this first step Japan took in PNG is like ‘putting your best foot forward’. The fisheries training college came some years after independence. But prior still, Japan tried to build the first fish cannery in Rabaul. The District Commissioner of East New Britain at the time disallowed Japan’s initiative fearing resentment from other tribes who might see the Tolai people of the Gazelle Peninsula as being too advanced.

Rabaul is the capital of East New Britain Province. It is located in the Gazelle Peninsula and the people who live in the peninsula are called Tolai. They are generally considered to be more advanced in commerce because plantation cash crops such as cocoa and copra were introduced in the 17th and 18 centuries, first by the Dutch and later the Germans.

Japan was among the very first countries of the world to establish diplomatic relations with PNG. From 1974 to 2017, Japanese Government extended its co-operation in grant aid, technical co-operation and ODA (Overseas Development Assistance) loans in the sum of 187.8 billion Yen.

As of 2017, Japanese Government sent out 3,318 personnel including experts and mission members for projects under technical co-operation and loan aid programs as well as junior and senior volunteers under JICA volunteer program.

JICA also provided wide-ranging training programs covering almost all sectors for the total of 4,281 Papua New Guinean officials from various government agencies.

Japanese co-operation in PNG focuses on three priority areas. The three priority areas are:-

1. Strengthening the foundation of economic growth,
2. Improvement of social services,
3. Environment and climate change.

Key JICA milestones

■ 1974: The Japanese Government initiated the first official development assistance in PNG. This was the fisheries training college mentioned earlier. This was also when JICA was established. The latter is significant and as a Papua New Guinean it makes me proud that it happened in my country. It is like a bridge to the world and as long as Japan is leading the world, we are part of it. It is also a wake- up call for my people to see what Japan is doing.

The first PNG trainees participated in a technical training program in Japan. The purpose of the training was to improve the trainee’s commerce and marketing skills.

■ 1975: The first technical co-operation project was implemented in PNG and it aimed at developing sustainable woodland in Madang to support and strengthen the livelihood of the local people.
■ 1978: The first Japanese Yen loan projects were implemented in PNG. Both the Wabag Water Supply Project and the Goroka Sewerage Facilities Construction Project were implemented at the same time.
■ 1980: The first batch of Japanese Overseas Co-operation Volunteers arrived in PNG and led to the establishment of the Volunteer Coordinator’s office to oversee their activities.
■ 1983: JICA PNG office officially launched in PNG.
■ 2008; The new JICA launched in October. The former JICA merged with the development assistance section of the Japan Bank for International Co-operation.
■ 2016: JICA PNG office was relocated to PWC Haus in Harbour City.

The ‘firsts’ in PNG demonstrate Japan’s keen interest in PNG and in a way my country has become part of Japan’s journey through co-operation. I shall revisit this point in my concluding remarks. But let us see some more examples of how the Japanese tax payer’s money is working in PNG.

1 Kina = 34JPY
Program category: Economic Infrastructure Term Total
(millions Kina)
The project for Capacity Development on Road Maintenance 2013-2017 14.8
The project for Capacity Development on Materializing the Specialized Technical Training Programs for Department of Works staff 2017-2018 2.2
The project for Reconstruction of Bridges on New Britain Highway 2015-2017 93
Ramu Transmission System Reinforcement Project 2013-2020 245
The Project for Capacity Development of Department of Transport in Port Policy and Administration 2014-2018 7.9
Nadzab Airport Redevelopment Project 2015-2020 792
Development Advisor 2017-2019 1.3
Program Category: Industrial Promotion Term Total
(millions Kina)
Capacity Development Project in Resource Related Revenue Management in Papua New Guinea 2017-2020 5.4
Project for Development Plan on Kokopo- Rabaul Infrastructure 2019-2022 TBD
Rehabilitation of Alotau Town Market and Fisheries Facility 2017-2020 34
Capacity Development towards PNG’s Policy Preparation for hosting APEC in 2018 (Country -focused Training) 2016-2018 0.9
Program Category: Education Term Total
(millions Kina)
Improvement of Quality of Teaching Materials (Country-focused Training) 2014-2020 3.1
Improving the Quality of Mathematics and Science Education Policy Advisor 2016-2019 12.7
Education Policy Advisor 2016-2018 1.5
Capacity Development of the PNG Military Band 2017-2019 1.4
Program Category: Health Term Total
(millions Kina)
Project for Elimination of Lymphatic Filariasis * 2018-2022 3.3
Project on making Healthy Village for mothers and women in the Highlands Region of PNG 2018-2022 3.1
Program category: Environment Term Total
(millions Kina)
Feasibility Survey for Establishing a Circulatory Society through Reduction and Recycling of Waste by means of Carbonization Plant 2017-2018 1.4
Feasibility Survey for Providing Drinkable Water to Citizens by Leasing a Desalination Plant 2017-2018 0.9
Promotion of Regional Initiative on Solid Waste Management in Pacific Island Countries Phase II (J-PRISMII) * 2016-2022 50
Port Moresby Sewerage System Upgrading Project (POMSSUP) 2017-2020 243
Port Moresby Water Management Improvement Project(POWAMIP) 2017-2020 9.8
The Project for Biodiversity Conservation through implementation of the PNG Policy on Protected Areas 2015-2020 14.1
The Project for Capacity Development on Mine Waste Management 2015-2021 5.9
Program Category: Climate Change Term Total
(millions Kina)
The Project for Enhancing Capacity to Develop a Sustainable GHG Inventory System for PNG 2017-2021 8.5
Capacity Development Project for Operationalization of PNG Forest Resources Information Management System for Addressing Climate Change 2014-2019 14.2

*These amounts also include the amounts of other Pacific Island Countries From 1974 to 2017, Japanese Government funding in PNG totaled 5.2 billion Kina. Japanese Government sent 3,318 aid workers and provided training programs for 4,281 Papua New Guineans. And the statistics add up.

As you can see, the Technical Co-operation is a broad spectrum under which Grant Aid, ODA loans and other activities are simultaneously taking place. Several activities taking place at the same time points to several considerations including, Japan’s genuineness in wanting to see Pacific Island countries seriously address their development challenges. The Japanese method shows this keen interest and as it is based on Japan’s experience to become a mature country that it is today, the programs are real and meaningful. It is your money well spent and through your government’s initiatives, the Japanese people are persevering to build a safer world.

The Japan method in dispensing its co-operation is unique and because it is deliberately put together gives Japan the edge. That is where ‘Leading the world with trust’ vision kicks in. It is not just the Vision of JICA; I’d like to see it as Japan’s vision for the world because Japan’s bilateral and technical co-operation activities are setting new benchmarks for the world to follow if building prosperity and wealth is the way to sustainable peace globally.

The way the Japanese funding works, as can be discerned from the examples outlined here shows the complexity of Japan’s co-operation, not just for my country Papua New Guinea but also for other Pacific Island countries and world-wide where JICA is working. The complexity of the co-operation is what makes Japan’s bilateral assistance the largest in the world and clearly places Japan in the leadership position it so rightfully deserves.

My country uses three languages; English (the official language), Pidgin and Motu. Pidgin is half English and half German. The word for a friend is WANTOK (or sharing the same language). Although we’re not sharing the same language, the Japan co-operation says so and much more; so much so that Japan’s enthusiasm is contagious. Japan is a good friend. May our two countries prosper together!

I was recently in Japan at the invitation of the Japan Ministry of Foreign Affairs. Japan is a nation made of innovative ideas and certainly I can see the connection between sport diplomacy and the economy. Japan has recognized sport power so all cities in Japan will be as famous as Tokyo one day; I am sure of that. This sports diplomacy is going to move the world so I am happy for Japan doing this. I visited the Rugby World Cup 2019 and the Tokyo 2020 Olympic organizing committee offices as part of the visit program and came away awe-struck.

In Kyoto, I visited a famous temple and saw how effective Japanese tourism works. I also visited the fish market. The world is coming to Japan! In Otsu, I ate lunch with elementary school kids and they made me sweep the floor. They were keen to teach me to do the right thing and they had immense satisfaction to see how I obliged. That was one of the best memories I will keep; how Japanese kids loved to order me around. I think they liked me and I liked them too. By the way I am 65 years old.

I spent most of my time at Excel Tokyo Hotel in Akasaka and lived on Japanese food. I arrived in Japan limping because or arthritis and gout which love to take me down every now and then. But after eating Japanese food, I came back to my country without a limp!

Was it the food? Oh, the taste of Japanese food is awesome. The people I spoke to were courteous. At the temple grounds in Kyoto, I went past a spot where millions of visitors tried to land a coin by throwing it toward a bowl some yards away. The ground was littered with coins from dozens of failed attempts. I first had a go with 100 yen which flew way past the rock and landed far away. My second attempt was a 10 yen coin. I decided I must strike the rock behind the bowl. And when the coin landed in the bowl, it rang like a bell and European tourists dropped their jaws. I did it with two attempts. Now I wonder if my limp went away because of that or the fabulous Japanese food!

There is only more thing left to say. You, the Japanese people are leading the world with trust. Trust is very important and my job is to make it clear to my people to trust the methods the Japanese are bringing to my country because the Japanese did it themselves. Besides the other bilateral assistance we receive are not geared for outcomes the way Japanese see. And that makes Japan the leader. I am not trying to be patronizing. I truly share Japan’s idea of a better world. Brexit in the UK should borrow some ideas from Japan if they reach a deadlock. When UK finds answers, there will be a new order but Japan will have got there first.

Pictures BY Barney Orere - TOP: Sharing lunch with Otsu City Fujimi Elementary School pupils and, ABOVE, Stall in Kyoto Fish Market.

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