Japan pledged Friday to provide foreign aid in an "offer-based" manner without waiting for recipient nations to make requests, as Tokyo looks to counter China's attempts to increase its economic clout in the developing world through economic investment.
Combining the more proactive approach with its traditional "request-based" concept, Japan will use official development assistance as one of its "most important diplomatic tools," according to a revised policy outline approved by the Cabinet.
The first update of the ODA policy blueprint since February 2015 comes amid mounting concern over China's development aid policies, which have been criticized for using loans as leverage to extract concessions from borrowing countries, known as "debt trap diplomacy."
Japan promised in the modified policy proposal to support developing nations based on "inclusiveness, transparency and equity" without resorting to "debt trap or economic coercion," aiming to secure their independence and sustainability.
Foreign Minister Yoshimasa Hayashi said at a press conference later in the day that development cooperation is "significant" as building a prosperous international community, underpinned by a free and open global order, is tied to Japan's national interests.
The outline, meanwhile, set a goal of increasing Japan's ODA budget to 0.7 percent of gross national income, although a target year for achieving the objective was not specified.
The figure in 2022 was around 0.4 percent, according to the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development.
The blueprint also said Japan will assist recipient governments to develop their legal systems to establish the rule of law while paying "full attention" to how such nations map out policies to fight climate change.
A Foreign Ministry official told reporters that Japan received more than 140 public comments in a one-month period through May 4 on the draft of the revised proposal, which opened for consultation in April.