JICA President Discusses Aid Efforts, Philippine Visit

TOKYO – Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) President Akihiko Tanaka talked about the country’s aid initiatives during a press conference held at the Foreign Correspondents’ Club of Japan (FCCJ) last April 11.

Tanaka, who began his second term as JICA president in April 2022, shed light on the Japanese government’s efforts to address global issues such as climate change, the conflict in Ukraine, and inflation, providing insights into the nation’s aid strategy.

According to FCCJ, Japan is the third-largest Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) donor country and the largest in Asia, and JICA is one of the world’s biggest aid agencies with an Official Development Assistance (ODA) budget of 560 billion yen in 2022.

“Developed countries face potential recessions while some developing countries are experiencing debt problems,” Tanaka said.

“These compounded crises pose a threat to all of humanity, and at the same time they have a devastating impact on economies and societies of developing countries putting the most vulnerable population at risk,” he added.

The JICA president stressed that resolving these crises requires collective efforts, rather than individual country actions.

He also noted JICA’s role in promoting human security, and its initiatives in addressing the challenges at hand. He revealed that the agency is working under the slogan “Japan is back” to return to pre-COVID-19 activity levels as quickly as possible.

Furthermore, Tanaka shared his recent visit to the Philippines, where he observed the Mindanao peace process and the reconstruction of conflict-affected areas.

“I started off this year by visiting the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao. JICA has been supporting reconstruction livelihood improvement and peace processes in conflict-affected areas of Mindanao for almost 30 years. I observed the reconstruction of these conflict-affected areas, including the school I visited seven years ago, and found that the Mindanao peace process is making steady progress,” he remarked.

Tanaka was the first foreign official to deliver a speech before the Bangsamoro Transition Authority Parliament, which adopted a resolution appreciating and commending JICA’s cooperation in the Mindanao peace process over the many years.

“I strongly believe that peace in Mindanao will lead to peace and stability not only in the Philippines but also in East Asia as a whole. We will continue our cooperation to ensure this promising peace process,” he noted.

When asked about JICA’s support for the Metro Manila Subway Project, Tanaka emphasized the importance of reducing congestion and greenhouse gas emissions in the country.

He also stressed the need to reduce inequality as a pressing development issue in the Philippines.

“I believe the aggregate pie of the Filipino economy is expanding. But there are still poor areas, for example, Muslim Mindanao. I believe that what the Filipino government [should do] is pursue necessary economic and social policies to reduce inequality.” he stated.

JICA is the Philippines’ top ODA partner for many years. - Florenda Corpuz