Building Co-Creative Partnerships with Asia –A New Development Cooperation Strategy for Japan–


The landscape of international development has changed dramatically, with a rise of emerging economies, more diverse actors of development cooperation, and intensifying aid competition. Moreover, Japan itself stands at a major turning point. There is a new wave of ‘internationalization’ of Japanese manufacturing FDI involving SMEs, which necessitates building much deeper and co-creative partnerships with Asia. The latest revision of the 2003 ODA Charter and the formulation of the new Development Cooperation Charter by the Japanese government can be understood as an attempt to respond to such changes. This paper stresses the four principles of Japan’s contribution to international development in a new era—i.e., a quality and knowledge leader, a people-centered approach, a solution-provider, and network-based cooperation. It then proposes three sets of enhanced partnerships with Asia: (i) manufacturing (monozukuri) partnership, (ii) city development (toshizukuri) partnership, and (iii) knowledge (chiteki) partnership. Japan should create a global strategy that increases its soft power, making full use of the intellectual assets and expertise as well as the human networks accumulated in Japan and abroad, building on its sixty-year ODA cooperation. ‘Co-creative’ partnerships with Asia should be central to this global strategy.