Myanmar sees twofold rise in Japanese grant aid

Hiroto Arakawa, special adviser to the Research Institute of the Japan International Cooperation Agency, in a panel with Aung San Suu Kyi at the World Economic Forum in Naypyitaw, Myanmar. Arakawa oversees global issues and development partnerships at JICA. Photo by: Sikarin Thanachaiary / World Economic Forum / CC BY-NC-SA

For the first half of 2014, Japan’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs allocated the lion’s share of its 81.44 billion yen ($782 million) grant funding to Myanmar — making the Southeast Asian country the biggest recipient of Japan’s grant giving.

MOFA signed off on $207.53 million worth of grant projects for Myanmar during the period, more than double its $92.78 million grant assistance to the country in 2012. This surge in funding is a strong reaffirmation of Japan’s continued commitment to Myanmar’s democratic transition and development.

The country is a top priority of Japanese development engagement in Southeast Asia. In December 2013, Tokyo pledged $19 billion in aid to help boost the region’s development efforts through 2018, of which $617.5 million is earmarked to support railway, water supply and irrigation projects in Myanmar. Further, MOFA allotted S210.6 million for fiscal year 2014 to help advance democratic reform; create a stable, legal environment for foreign investors; and promote climate change measures in the country.

Japan’s grant funding will support transport, health and information technology projects in Myanmar. The Project for Construction of New Thaketa Bridge aims to improve mobility and ease rapid traffic growth in the greater Yangon area. Myanmar is poised to receive $42.64 million in health funding to provide medical equipment for general hospitals in Yangon, and to rehabilitate decrepit facilities in the Loikaw and Lashio General Hospitals. MOFA is also helping modernize public systems in Myanmar by advancing the uptake of information technologies. The Project for Installation of Operation Control Center System and Safety Equipment will improve the operation and management safety of Myanmar Railways — the local train system — through the use of centralized monitoring and electronic interlocking systems.

MOFA grant aid projects approved in the first half of 2014. Table lists projects only for the top 10 country recipients during the period. View larger version.

Although social and economic infrastructure support has long been the focus of Japanese grant giving, cooperation in recent years has expanded to include nonstructural areas, such as environment, post-disaster reconstruction and human resource development. Under its Human Resource Development Scholarship scheme, Japan provides financing to train promising young government officials in developing countries. Recipients for the first half of the year are Myanmar, Laos, Bangladesh, Cambodia, Mongolia, and Sri Lanka.

In line with its “win-win” aid policy, Japan will help boost the growth of emerging countries by leveraging the technology and products of its enterprises. Through the Nonproject Grant Aid for the Provision of Japanese SME’s Products, Tokyo will provide goods manufactured by its small and medium enterprises based on requests from developing countries.

Condensed and republished with permission from The International Development Journal, a leading monthly journal in Japanese focusing on international development.

About the author

  • Christine Dugay

    Christine is a former senior analyst under the Surveys and Advisory Services team of Devex. A skilled researcher, she contributes to and/or leads custom research projects and surveys commissioned by leading companies and development institutions. Christine has a professional certificate in political economy and a master’s degree in Japanese studies, and is a fellow of the Japan Foundation.