Japan’s support to UkraineSince Feb. 24, 2022, Ukraine has been in armed conflict with Russia, which has caused significant deterioration in Ukraine’s economy and an increase in poverty. However, the international community has been quick to come to Ukraine’s assistance. In particular, Japan has provided several essential services to Ukraine through the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA). Here is a breakdown of Japan’s support to Ukraine since the recent escalation of the Russia-Ukraine conflict.

Poverty Increase in Ukraine

The humanitarian situation in Ukraine has worsened significantly since the start of the conflict. Approximately 34% of households reported having no income or relying on assistance as of April 2022. The country’s unemployment rate has drastically increased to 34% in 2022, according to the National Bank of Ukraine. However, the actual rate is likely more severe as “so many people in Ukraine had undeclared jobs before the invasion,” NPR says. This is a stark increase from the 8.9% unemployment rate recorded in 2021, according to World Bank data.

This increase corresponds to a third of the population suffering from food insecurity. Food insecurity affects some oblasts (provinces) more severely than others, with provinces in the east and south reporting food insecurity rates of 50%. Luhansk notes the highest food insecurity rates across all oblasts. Further, the Ukrainian economy is projected to contract by close to 32% by the end of 2022.

The easternmost oblasts of Donetsk, Kharkiv and Luhansk are disproportionately affected by the conflict. A greater presence of landmine contamination, continued damage to infrastructure and a generally higher risk of Russian targeting makes these areas less accessible for aid and commerce.

JICA Support

Japan’s support of Ukraine since the beginning of the conflict has three focal points:

  1.  Assistance to attain financial stability.
  2. The “improvement of people’s lives and environment.”
  3. The “promotion of autonomous governance and internal reconciliation.”

The first measure the JICA took to help Ukraine in March 2022 came in the form of “a needs assessment survey team for humanitarian and medical assistance,” the JICA website says. The JICA dispatched this medical team to Moldova to assist with the influx of Ukrainian refugees. The team collaborated with the World Health Organization and the Moldovan Health Ministry to help strengthen already existing systems and also provide advice on resource allocation and data management as the crisis continues to unfold.

ODA Loans

Additionally, on May 16, 2022, the JICA signed an Official Development Assistance (ODA) contract, giving a 13 billion Japanese yen loan to support Ukrainian economic stability. However, this amount was not adjusted in light of the scope of the war, and so, on June 17, Japan modified the original ODA to give an additional 65 billion yen to Ukraine. This combined total is equivalent to a 78 billion yen loan. As stated on the JICA website, the loan’s goals include “fostering de-monopolization and anticorruption institutions, strengthening land and credit markets and bolstering the social safety net… by offering financial assistance to Ukraine, which is facing an economic crisis due to the impact of a military invasion.”

Lastly, in late June 2022, the JICA gave its first of “a series of online seminars” designed to help advise Ukrainian officials in waste and debris management amid the war. Oblasts that are particular targets of the Russian military have experienced a high level of infrastructural damage, contributing to transportation and waste management issues. Considering Japan’s experience with these matters, the JICA hopes to share its expertise and contribute to Ukraine’s stability and crisis recovery.

Looking Forward

For Ukraine to endure during these times while safeguarding the well-being of citizens, it is essential to sustain support efforts like those demonstrated by the JICA. It is likely that Japan’s support to Ukraine will continue to play a critical role as the war unfolds.

– Xander Heiple
Photo: Flickr

Japanese Foreign AidJapan has been a controversial figure in foreign aid for a number of reasons. The nation is famous for its strict policies in terms of refugees and immigrants, only accepting 20 refugees out of 19,000 asylum-seeking applicants in 2017. However, historically, Japan has taken the ranks as a leading provider of foreign aid, especially during the 1990s. Even today, Japan ranks fifth in global foreign aid. While impressive, Japan faces criticism for its decreases in providing aid abroad when the nation takes in so few asylum seekers. However, currently, Japanese foreign aid is making a name for itself through the country’s significant contributions throughout the COVID-19 pandemic.

International Development Association (IDA)

In December 2021, Japan pledged to give $3.4 billion to the International Development Association (IDA) of the World Bank, a record donation for the nation. The aim of this contribution is to provide developing nations with the resources necessary to rebuild after the economic losses brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic. Japanese Finance Minister Sunichi Suzuki announced, “Now is the time for global solidarity,” according to Reuters. Japanese foreign aid to the IDA will significantly help developing nations facing the highest levels of poverty globally.

COVID-19 Vaccines

Japan has extended its support to other nations beyond simply providing monetary donations. In September 2021, Japan doubled its goal of providing 30 million COVID-19 doses, extending this number to 60 million doses globally. Japan had distributed the first 30 million vaccines to nations with vaccine shortages, such as Taiwan, Vietnam and Indonesia.

The vaccines will continue to reach nations in need and may extend beyond Asia. This donation is crucial in eliminating the health care disparities among nations, especially as the impoverished in developing nations suffer the most from a lack of COVID-19 vaccines. Overall, this is beneficial for all nations because the intensity of the pandemic could calm as vaccine distribution accelerates.

Supporting Latin America and the Caribbean

When Japan is not directly sending vaccines, it donates to organizations that distribute vaccines. Japan donated more than $11.1 million to UNICEF in August 2021 to support Latin America and the Caribbean (LAC). The funds will support the storage of vaccines at ideal temperatures and assist in achieving “effective and inclusive vaccination” across the LAC region. Much of this donation will directly aid in the creation of vaccine sites and the payment of staff and health workers to operate such facilities.

UNICEF reports that children in the LAC region are enduring social, educational and emotional impacts due to COVID-19. Japanese foreign aid in the form of the donation will increase vaccination rates for normality to resume. UNICEF has coordinated much of the efforts to drive donations for vaccines in the LAC region, a region reporting more than 40 million cases and 1.4 million deaths by the close of July 2021, accounting for 20-30% of the global toll of COVID-19 cases. Thus, UNICEF applauds Japan for its donation to accelerate vaccination efforts in the LAC.

Current Top Aid Provider

According to data from the Overseas Development Institute, among the Group of Seven nations, Japan has donated the most in global aid for COVID-19 at $5.1 billion in 2020. In comparison, Germany pledged $4.4 billion while France committed $1.9 billion and Canada gave $1.0 billion. Falling on the lower end of the donation spectrum, Britain gave $990 million while the United States gave $103 million and Italy committed $50 million. However, the United States could surpass Japan’s total donations as the Biden administration has expressed several foreign aid commitments during the COVID-19 pandemic with more to come.

Nonetheless, Japan is contributing greatly to the overall mission of aiding developing countries amid COVID-19, whether it be through monetary or in-kind donations.

Now more than ever, critics affirm that developed countries can do more to support developing nations. Japan has certainly stepped up to the plate during this time of global crisis. Japanese foreign aid has become crucial for developing countries and their recovery from the pandemic.

– Rachel Reardon
Photo: Flickr