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Japan aid agency to strengthen ties with China and Korea

 InDepth News 20 September 2019

The Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) is set to strengthen bilateral ties and global development work with key institutions in China and South Korea in the wake of a four-day visit to those countries by Sadako Ogata who presides over the agency. (744 Words) - By Hiroshi Nagai*

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The importance of her visit to China is underlined by the fact that more than 30 years ago Japan began to provide the sprawling neighbour with the first of loans meanwhile totaling some Yen3.6 trillion (about $40 billion). These were initially intended to improve infrastructure in China by building railroads, ports, power plants and later to promote environmental conservation.

JICA also helped develop a survey for the urbanization of the Shanghai and Yangtze River delta region as that area became an economic powerhouse. Furthermore it has provided technical training to more than 25,000 Chinese.

But while Japan continues to support China in projects in such areas as water and air pollution control, climate change, reforestation, solid-waste management and environmental education, and China has emerged as a major player in the global economy.

The two countries are therefore moving closer together to assist developing countries, Ogata told researchers and graduate students at the Shanghai Institute for International Studies (SIIS) on September 3.

She was speaking on Asia in the Era of Globalization and Prospects for Japan-China Relations.

Ogata recalled that the Chinese deputy prime minister Li Keqiang had told her at a meeting in December 2009 that supporting the world's least developed countries (LDCs) was "one of the most important challenges in Chinese-Japanese Cooperation".

Ogata said since then JICA and the Export-Import Bank of China had held a second joint workshop in March 2010 to discuss and share experiences on such issues as evaluation methods and climate change.

JICA has started discussions with the Department of Aid to Foreign Countries, Ministry of Commerce of China (MOFCOM) and will host a training program for staff members of that organization.

"We also plan to hold dialogue between agricultural experts of Japan and China in order to advance their capacities in carrying out agricultural assistance work in Africa," Ogata said.

The JICA president added: "I would like to solicit closer collaboration with SIIS on a range of research and policy issues, especially with regard to the challenge of ensuring 'inclusive' and dynamic economic development."

She was particularly keen to learn of the Institute's experiences in two key areas which the Shanghai region had recently experienced: protecting the environment in regions undergoing rapid urbanization and the growing disparity between rich and poor, particularly between urban and rural areas.

Earlier, Ogata held talks in Seoul with president Park Dae Won of the Korean International Cooperation Agency (KOICA), president Dong Soo Kim of Korea's Export-Import Bank, former prime minister Han Seung-Soo and other government and academic officials.

While JICA and KOICA were expected to soon announce the first joint loan for a road project in Mozambique, discussions are under way for another joint loan projects in such countries as Viet Nam.

A tripartite meeting involving the Export-Import Bank of China will be held in October.

KOICA president Park Dae Won suggested annual meetings to plan joint projects in Asian countries such as Laos and Cambodia. Administrative level talks will establish a meeting date within a year. The two presidents also agreed to promote the outcome of ongoing joint research with the Brookings Institution in Washington.

KOICA was established in 1991 with aims similar to those of JICA -- providing technical and financial assistance to developing countries.

During her stay in Korea, Ogata also visited KOICA's newly opened Global Village Exhibition Center, a centre similar to JICA's own Global Plaza in Tokyo which provides information about the organization and promotes seminars and activities to highlight development issues.

KOICA officials said they had suggested to Chinese counterparts the establishment of an agency similar to the Korean and Japanese organizations.

October 1, 2019 marks the completion of two years of "new JICA". Under the new system, three forms of assistance previously administered by separate agencies -- technical cooperation, concessionary loans (Japanese ODA loans) and grant aid -- are seamlessly managed by a single entity.

This enables JICA to provide high quality international cooperation to meet the needs of people living in developing countries, according to Ogata.

Ogata is a former United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees.

*This article was written in Japanese, and adapted into English by Katsuhiro Asagiri.

Originally published by InDepth News. © www.streetnewsservice.org

 

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