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Home > Media Reviews > News Review Last Updated: 14:53 03/09/2007
News Review #283: March 4, 2005

Japan Seeks "Soft Landing" on Ending China Loan

Reviewed by Hitoshi URABE

Japan Seeks "Soft Landing" on Ending China Loan


Japan began its ODA (Official Development Assistance) program in 1954, only two years after signing the peace treaty with major countries to settle the affairs of WWII. Since then, Japan has provided the assistance 221 billion in terms of US dollars to 185 countries and regions worldwide. Recently, the amount provided has been around 800 billion yen annually (close to 7 billion US dollars), maintaining the position of second largest supplier next only to the U.S.

Japan's ODA to China began in 1979. At the time, China was considered to be a less developed country, and needed Japan's help in developing the economy. China has almost always been the largest recipient of ODA since, receiving over 3 trillion yen from Japan over the years.

A few years ago, Japan adopted a set of criteria in providing ODAs. It required, in essence, the funds were to be used for environment protection, personal development, enhancing market economy, and not to be used for military purposes. Perhaps because of the new policy, the amount provided in fiscal 2003 to China dropped to less than 100 billion yen.

China's economy has progressed significantly in recent years. They were invited to attend the G7 summit meeting, because China has become a large factor in setting the course of world economy. It was only natural, then, for Japan to consider ending such "assistance," more out of respect for the matured country, and there are many in other regions still poor and heavily in need of every support they could get.

But when Prime Minister Koizumi hinted the idea of ending the ODA last year to a senior Chinese official, the response was a blistering discontent. China apparently even cited the hackneyed routine of Japan's wartime "crimes," which in no way have anything to do with Japan's ODA program.

As reported in the article, Japan has proposed to China to begin discussions on terminating the "assistance" to them. A very gentlemanlike manner, indeed.

China sent a man into space in 2003, while it was only last week Japan was gratified to successfully launch a rocket to send a small satellite into orbit after a long interruption caused by a series of failures. China owns a number of nuclear submarines and one of them penetrated Japanese waters submerged last fall, while Japan's coast guard and SDF could do no more than just follow it from the surface - Japan has no nuclear-powered ships or submarines. It was way back in 1964 when China ignited their first nuclear bomb and is now a significant member of the atomic club composed of those who own the deadly weapon, while Japan has no intention of developing such an inhuman weapon - the stance recognized and endorsed by IAEA (International Atomic Energy Agency).

It is interesting indeed, then, that China, with all its powers - and the wealth to support it - still needs "assistance" from feeble Japan.

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