Japan in Their Own Words (JITOW)/日本からの意見

Japan's official development assistance to China
FUJINO Fumiaki / Advisor/ President of China Research Institute, Itochu Corp.

December 18, 2000
Voices calling for a review of Japan's official development assistance (ODA) to China have recently become louder and louder. In fact, review work is under way on this issue primarily among people who are knowledgeable about the matter. In my opinion, Japan should remain quite willing to continue its ODA to China.

On the whole, ODA is significant to Japan from various points of view. First of all, it represents Japan's contribution to the world. It was undoubtedly by its own power that Japan rose to become the world's No. 2 economic power. That was not all, however. It could not have achieved the feat without cooperation from other various nations of the world. It is a rich nation's bounden duty to give a helping hand to those people in need at a time when the world is pursuing peace and richness. In any case, being the sole winner leads to ruin.

Secondly, what is said to be assistance is never one-sided but it brings considerable benefit to the side of any aid donors as well. ODA will permit supply of technology and equipment from Japan, and after all will make it possible for Japan to transmit its culture. Mutual complementarity exists for certain. China is at last entering a phase in which its development will begin in real earnest. Development of western China is especially important. The 20-year period when Deng Xiaoping was in power saw development of the eastern maritime provinces play a central part in the great success of China, although it resulted in a conspicuos widening of an economic gap with the inland Middle West.

China must develop its western part and lessen the gap with the East in order to show itself to remain a single state and secure stability of the nation. Given a view of the eastern and southern maritime provinces only, China may not be able to be said to be a developing country; the western region which occupies as much as 70% of the whole country is extremely backward in development. China is a developing country where richness is mingled with poverty.

Development of this vast western region would require a colossal amount of capital. With nothing but her own financial resources, there would be a limit to development of China; cooperation from other countries is needed.

It was in this context that Prime Minister Zhu Rongji strongly urged for Japan's cooperation during his latest trip to Tokyo. China is Japan's biggest trade partner second only to the United States. Development of western China would open up a huge market for Japan. China is expected soon to become a member of the World Trade Organization, giving rise to a new wave of market-opening.

The Chinese have yet to face a mountain of problems such as environmental measures and corporate reforms. They are complex and difficult problems China has to address, but the Chinese are moving forward with an eye to development. What would happen if China, a power with a fifth of world population were thrown into confusion? This would have unimaginable impact on Japan, its neighbour. Foreign cooperation is indispensable for China; especially cooperation from Japan is valuable.

There is no doubt about a future need to review areas and methods, etc. of ODA and to make the ODA method as effective as possible. For example, it will be necessary to give priority to improvement of industrial infrastructure such as roads, electricity and telecommunications in the West, cultivation of men of ability and environmental measures. It will also be effective to use ODA money for high-speed railway construction and other projects that will be regarded as symbols of Sino-Japanese cooperation.

In any case, arguments that ODA is unnecessary for China because it is a developed country or that ODA should be slashed are out of the question. In view of gigantic national development plans confronting the Chinese, there is no leeway for any massive military buildup, although China may have to retain necessary minimum defense capacity as a big power. I doubt whether we should be too particular about this matter.

What matters us most now is to keep in mind the strategic importance of maintaining good Sino-Japanese relations in the interest of Asia and the world as a whole in the 21st century. Our present concern about unfavorable domestic business conditions must not make us inward-looking in this connection.

The writer is Advisor/ President of China Research Institute, Itochu Corp.
The English-Speaking Union of Japan

藤野 文晤 / 伊藤忠商事株式会社顧問・中国研究所長

2000年 12月 18日








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English Speaking Union of Japan > Japan in Their Own Words (JITOW) > Japan's official development assistance to China