« | »


IDJ English – Compass

Building a “Control Tower” for Economic  Cooperation
The Achievements of Former Prime Minister Abe


Top Sales


Shinzo Abe abruptly resigned as Prime Minister on September 6, 2020, over ill health. This time, I will focus on his “diplomatic achievements” and “footprints on foreign economic cooperation.”           

First of all, the greatest achievement is “Free and Open Indo-Pacific (FOIP) “. This initiative was proposed at the 6th African Development Conference (held in Nairobi, Kenya) in August, 2016.

Its international strategy goes far beyond China’s “Belt and Road Initiative (BRI)”. Japan says it is responsible for fostering and enriching exchanges between the Pacific and Indian Oceans, Asia and Africa, regardless of national power or military power, as a place that regards “freedom” and “the rule of law” and “market economy.”

In the past, for example, Prime Minister Masayoshi Ohira’s “Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement” and Prime Minister Kiichi Miyazawa’s “Meeting to Consider Asia and the Pacific and Japan in the 21st Century” were set up *by the government administrations.

But these ideas do not go beyond the areas of Asia and the Pacific. The Abe’s FOIP initiative expects Sub-Saharan Africa to become vast growth center for the future. Therefore, it can be said that this plan has apt historical insight.

India’s role is particularly expected, and Abe’s relations with Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi deepened rapidly. Under such relations, the Indian high-speed railway (HSR) construction project assisted by the economic cooperation of Japan was agreed upon. Currently, it is under construction at full speed. But the construction cost is expected to be nearly 2 trillion yen. All of these are ODA (yen loan cooperation).

This is “top sales” so to speak. Since the inauguration of the second Abe Cabinet in December 2012, “economic revitalization” has been a top priority. It was highly valued as Abenomics, but it is expected to have had an economic effect of about 9 trillion yen in top sales overseas through its own summit diplomacy. It is said that the scale has three times the economic effect than before (Eiji Oshita, “Secret Records of the Chief Cabinet Secretary”).

Kasumigaseki-led ODA

By the way, looking at the relationship between Prime Minister Abe at that time and Prime Minister Modi of India, it is recollected that he was rooted in a political family.  Abe’s grandfather, Nobusuke Kishi, opened up diplomatic relations withIndia during his first postwar trip to Asia during the time as a prime minister. Prime Minister Nehru made his first visit to Japan in October, 1957. He requested Prime Minister Kishi to cooperate with India’s second five-year plan. It was Japan’s first yen loan cooperation. The following year, a first yen loan worth a total of $50 million was decided to build facilities such as electric power generation equipment and ships.

And now, Abe, apparently being guided by his grandfather, tried to contribute to India’s economic development by cooperating with yen loans for the construction of HSR. It can be said that it was truly an “historical encounter”.

In a word, former Prime Minister Abe’s greatest achievement in foreign economic cooperation is that the prime minister’s office held top-level discussions and final decisions on foreign economic cooperation policies. Until then, the Kasumigaseki bureaucratic group considered requests for assistance from developing countries at the bureaucratic level, and finally, made decisions through a formal process of cabinet.


This is one hypothesis. It dates back to the establishment of the Overseas Economic Cooperation Fund (OECF) in 1961. The fund consisted of four ministries at the time: the Ministry of Finance, the Ministry of International Trade and Industry, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, and the Economic Planning Agency. In one theory, it is said that Kasumigaseki aimed at preventing sideways intervention from politicians by assembling such a co-management system. Perhaps, the experience in the era of war compensation wherein there was intervention by politicians might be reflected in this system.

Therefore, it can be said that the Cabinet decision has long been the only formal process for ODA implementation, and Kasumigaseki bureaucrats have managed  the entire process of requests, decisions and the implementation of ODA.


ODA led by the Prime Minister’s Office

However, Abe has considered the importance of economic cooperation since he was Chief Cabinet Secretary in the Koizumi Administration in 2005, hosting the Foreign Economic Cooperation Council and hearing opinions from the business community and officers in charge of aid agencies. Since the establishment of the first Abe Administration in September, 2006, the “Overseas Economic Cooperation Council” was established on April 28, 2006, by the Prime Minister’s Office. It was established in the form of abolishing the former “Ministerial Conference on Foreign Economic Cooperation”.  Such economic cooperation was inherited and taken over to the second Abe Cabinet in 2012.


The main roles are as follows:         

(1) The Cabinet shall establish the Overseas Economic Cooperation Council in order to flexibly and substantively deliberate important matters concerning Japan’s overseas economic cooperation (including ODA and other government funds, and related private funds), and to ensure the efficient implementation of strategic overseas economic cooperation.

(2) The composition of the meeting consists of the Prime Minister as the Chairman, the Chief Cabinet Secretary by the Member of the Cabinet Secretariat, and the Minister of Finance, Foreign Affairs, and Economy Trade and Industry.

(3) The meeting will be hosted by the Chairperson and, if necessary, by the Chief Cabinet Secretary.

(4) The Secretariat is the Cabinet Secretariat.


The overseas economic cooperation conference is exactly the “Control Tower” that the author has insisted on for many years for ODA. The range is wide including cooperation with the private sector, and it is not at a level of a past Kasumigaseki government office. It focuses on the ideal way of overseas economic cooperation of Japan comprehensively and strategically according to the national interests of Japan.

It can be said that it is an aid decision mechanism beyond the United States Agency for International Development (USAID), former Department Foreign Development (DFID) of UK, and the German Ministry of Economic Cooperation. Japan’s Overseas Economic Cooperation Council aims to place importance on ODA in the national interest, as well as European countries and the US.

Abe has maintained a policy of first utilizing ODA for Japan’s development and contributing to the development of developing countries by obtaining a domestic consensus for foreign assistance. More importantly, as part of the FOIP described earlier, Japan is moving high-speed railways to India’s development in order to deepen cooperation with India, which is the key to the FOIP.

This is an international cooperation project that is not easy to implement at the frontline level. But I would like Japan, a higher technology-based country, to be consolidated with aid agencies and companies and do its best. It should also be a “show-window” for Japan that will increase its trust in the world.

 By Mitsuya Araki, Editor-in-chief of IDJ

“International Development Journal”, 2020 December edition




経済協力の司令塔を構築 安倍前総理大臣の功績







これは、まさに “トップ・セールス”である。第2次安倍内閣は2012年12月の政権発足以来、“経済再生”を最優先課題にしてきた。それはアベノミクスと言われ高く評価されたが、自らの首脳外交による海外でのトップ・セールスでは約9兆円という経済的効果をもたらしたと見られている。その規模はこれまでと比べて3倍の経済的効果をもたらすものだと言う(大下英治著『内閣官房長官秘録』)。







ところが、安倍前総理は、2005年当時の小泉内閣の官房長官時代から「対外経済協力会議」を主催して、経済界、援助実施機関の責任者からも意見を聴取するなど、経済協力を重視してきた。              そして、2006年9月の第1次安倍政権樹立以来、2012年の第2次安倍内閣にも引き継がれる形で、経済協力を継承して、官邸主導の「海外経済協力会議」(2006年4月28日設置)が、以前の形式的とも言える「対外経済協力関係閣僚会議」を廃止する形で発足した。


①  わが国の海外経済協力(ODA、その他政府資金及びこれらに関連する民間資金の活用を含む)に関する重要事項を機動的、かつ実質的に審議し、戦略的な海外経済協力の効率的な実施を図るべく、内閣に海外経済協力会議を設置する。

②  会議の構成は議長が内閣総理大臣、議員が内閣官房長官、外務、財務、経済産業各省大臣。

③  会議は議長が主催し、必要に応じて内閣官房長官が代行する。

④  事務局は内閣官房。




国際開発ジャーナル主幹 荒木光弥

国際開発ジャーナル 2020年12月号掲載記事



Comment & Trackback

Comments and Trackback are closed.

No comments.

Positive SSL Wildcard