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“The Third Wave”:a New Trend in Assistance for Developing Countries

picture:A temple in Bali, Indonesia ©The International Development Journal Co., Ltd.


Compass “The Third Wave”:a New Trend in Assistance for Developing Countries – Training for foreign workers coming to Japan becomes more important

New Arguments on ODA

As well known, Japan’s population continues to decline. The impact is not limited to labor shortages at construction sites, but has spread to small and medium-sized businesses, as well as the agricultural and social welfare fields throughout the country.
According to the government, the number of SMEs that have to be closed or close has been on the rise, reaching 46,724 in 2018. If this situation continues, SMEs will not survive and employment and technology may be lost. There are concerns about the future. Some estimates suggest that if a large number of SMEs are forced out of business, their gross domestic product (GDP) will decrease by 22 trillion yen.
According to Sankei Shimbun dated January 25, 2020 a general contractor, Kajima Corporation, provides safety training to 100 Myanmar workers every year who work for partner companies that undertake construction work before visiting Japan.
On the other hand, according to Kazuhiko Koshikawa, vice-president of the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA), which supports the overseas expansion of SMEs, mainly in rural areas, local communities are also suffering from a shortage of human resources to support overseas business. It is said that some companies are thinking of nurturing people in their destinations and bringing them to Japan to act as business promoters. Japan has entered a period of trial and error in terms of securing human resources.
As well known, Japanese 2nd generation immigrants living in Brazil and Peru in Latin America have come to Japan with their families and are increasing their presence as important workforces throughout Japan. However, most of them have difficulties in terms of language problems and lifestyle habits. Therefore, there is a proposal to send former members of Japan Overseas Cooperation Volunteers (JOCV), who have a local sense of developing countries, to play a role in mediating between Japanese Latin Americans and Japanese society.
However, some people say that ODA-based domestic assistance to human resources (workers) in developing countries coming to Japan is “not ODA”. In contrast, the ultimate goal of ODA is to increase the income of the people of developing countries to lift them from poverty. So there are argumentation that the way to directly generate income for the people of developing countries is truly by aid.
Turning now to look at the United States, the money remittance to mother countries by developing countries’ people working in the US is highly valued as direct aid.

Huge weight of remittance from the US to Latin America

Around 2004, the magazine “Foreign Affairs” reported that salary repatriation from developing countries’ workers in the US reached a total of $ 18 billion in 2000. However, the “Financial Times” calls this a labor force export from developing countries that supplies “new fuel for development”. “Newsweek” in January, 2004, issued feature stories named the “Migration Economy” focusing on migrant labor forces and their remittances.
In other words, Americans say, “There is no other assured way to reach poor families in poor countries than remittances from the US. Their direct effect is higher than governmental ODA.” Looking at the scale of remittances from the US to developing countries at the year 2004-05 level, it has doubled from about $ 21 billion to $ 50 billion over the past ten years.
The breakdown is Latin America $ 14.5 billion, India $ 11.5 billion, Middle East $ 10.4 billion and Eastern Europe $ 6.2 billion. For example, remittances from the US to six Latin American countries accounted for more than 10% of these countries’ GDP.
The US considers remittances from the US to be the “third wave,” as it is the third aid after (1) ODA and (2) private investment and loans to developing countries.
In Southeast Asia, migrant workers from the Philippines to the US are prominent for historical reasons. Among them, the migration of nurses to the US is widely known.
“If a Filipino working abroad increases repatriation by $ 20 per person per month, GDP increases 2%, $1.68 billion a year,” said former Philippine President Gloria Arroyo, who visited California in November 2004. At the time, the Philippines’ migrant population was estimated to be over 7 million, so the remittance was said to be equivalent to 1% of GDP. Now their migrant population abroad may be in the vicinity of 10 million.

Expected role of JICA

In the US, NPOs, corporate philanthropy, universities, religious organizations, and personal donations, are said to be more than 3.5 times the ODA annual budget. Even now, the repatriation of those working in the US is highly valued as a worthy aid record.
Japan’s aid to developing countries is not just limited to ODA and private investment. However, it is also time for people in developing countries to earn money in Japan and repatriate to mother countries in a broader sense. This could be counted as “government aid” or as “direct aid to poor countries”. It can also be an aid concept of Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).
In response to such new situations, JICA and other ODA agencies should consider ways to help local people improve their skills and knowledge making use of overseas offices and “Japan Centers” in various parts of Asia.
Contributing to the improvement of the quality of workers in developing countries coming to Japan, their remittances from Japan to their home countries should be taken into account as a direct concept of “development country assistance”.
Developing country workers who have acquired new knowledge and skills in Japan may return home to contribute to their own development, or come back to Japan to further enhance their abilities. In this way, Japan will gradually integrate with Asia as the population declines, and eventually Japan will move to an era where it is necessary to live in such a wave of citizens’ exchanges with Asia.

By Mitsuya Araki, Editor-in-chief of IDJ

羅針盤  途上国援助に“第3の波”  来日する途上国労働者の研修




2004年頃、有名な『フォーリン・アフェアーズ』誌は、米国で働く途上国労働者からの本国送金は、2000年レベルで総額180億ドルに達していると報告していた。だが、『フィナンシャル・タイムズ』はこれを“開発に新たな燃料”を供給する途上国からの労働力輸出だと言い、2004年1月号の『ニューズウィーク』は“Migration Economy”と題する移民労働者の送金問題を特集していた。



国際開発ジャーナル主幹 荒木光弥


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