Theory of International Development & Aid II

The class looked at Japan’s Official Development Assistance (ODA) after the Second World War. Lively discussions took place among students from five different countries, Indonesia, Vietnam, Mongolia, New Zealand and Japan, which made the time very meaningful. Below is a response card from one of the international students, followed by a summary of the overall discussion based on the whole class discussion:

I am convinced that our class today was incredibly impactful. Addressing topics like history and war crimes, particularly in the context of discussion among individuals from five different countries, requires great sensitivity. Despite this, the class engaged in open dialogue without hiding any truths. What struck me the most was the Japanese students’ willingness to confront the issues candidly and sincerely. Additionally, it’s surprising to note that despite China having a higher GDP than Japan on the world stage, the fact that China had been receiving ODA from Japan since 1979 and only recently stopped in 2022 is astonishing to me.

Summary of class discussion about ODA:

  1. There is an ongoing sense of doubt and distrust among international students (young people and people from different countries) about Japan’s wartime atrocities and its lack of transparency in dealing with them and assigning responsibility.
  2. True trust, respect and friendship between the people of different countries can only be won if Japan takes a sincere attitude to historical facts and education as an embodiment of this attitude is implemented. ODA aid alone cannot make up for this.
  3. There is much young people in Japan do not know about history, and much they are not informed about.
  4. A question occurred if information is deliberately controlled. Also the examination system (Nyushi) to enter universities seems to play a part of this ignorance.
  5. Historical facts and narratives: narratives reflect the national sentiments and agendas of the respective countries. How is the narrative in textbooks determined? An international comparison would be interesting.