Scandinavian Working Papers in Economics

EIJS Working Paper Series,
Stockholm School of Economics, The European Institute of Japanese Studies


André Asplund ()
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André Asplund: European Institute of Japanese Studies, Postal: Stockholm School of Economics, P.O. Box 6501, S-113 83 Stockholm, Sweden

Abstract: In light of an increased focus, in Japanese diplomacy since the turn of the millennium, on the need for strengthening democracy and human rights within ASEAN, this paper examines Japanese Official Development Assistance (ODA) to ASEAN during the 21st century in order to understand if Japan has lived up to its self-imposed principles of paying full attention to human rights and democracy in recipient countries when providing foreign aid. By comparing Japanese ODA flows to ASEAN members, committed through exchange notes between 2001 and 2013 with levels of democracy and human rights adherence in the same countries this paper argues that Japan is pragmatic in its approach to the ODA principles regarding democratization and human rights in recipient countries and balances considerations for normative values with national interests. Given ASEAN’s increasing importance for Japan, as a growing market and a strategic hedge against what is perceived as increased Chinese influence in the region, a major shift of said approach seems highly unlikely in the near future, particularly with the Abe administration set on using ODA more strategically as a means to secure regional stability and national security.

Keywords: Japanese foreign aid; Japanese ODA; ASEAN; Human Rights and Democracy

JEL-codes: F35; F50; F59

15 pages, May 12, 2015

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