India to eclipse China as Japan's main aid recipient

By siliconindia staff writer   |   Tuesday, 28 October 2003, 08:00 Hrs
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TOKYO: Putting a man in space has its downside. The billions of dollars Beijing spends on arms, space and its own aid programme has led Japan to slash foreign assistance to China.

The net result: this coming fiscal year India will replace China as the primary recipient of Japanese aid. Aid to China, said official sources, will be cut by about a quarter for the second year running while funding to India is likely to be increased by about 20 per cent.

This should push Japanese assistance to India to over $1 billion. The corresponding figure for China will be roughly $ 800 million.

Foreign Ministry's Press Secretary Hatsuhisa Takashima said the aid cuts followed logically from China's economic success. However, he admitted, "Japanese public opinion has turned against providing China so much aid because of its expenditure on military equipment and other areas."

Japan's own financial problems have not helped matters. The Japanese Deputy Chief of Mission in New Delhi, Wataru Nishigahiro, was more categorical in a speech last year. He cited increasing criticism within Japan about giving aid to China at a time when Beijing was "sending its naval ships" into the Sea of Japan and China was using aid to promote strategic influence in Myanmar and Africa.

Finally, he noted, Beijing refused to publicise how much aid Japan was giving. This new emphasis on India, say observers, reflects Tokyo's increasing assertion of a strategic aspect to its foreign policy.

Nishigahiro, speaking before an Indian audience, admitted Tokyo had in the past thought of security "without the strategic considerations." Thus also the decision to use foreign aid to further strategic goals.

Promoting India at the expense of China seems to be part of new Japanese thinking. In addition, Japan has dropped wielding foreign aid as a moral weapon against nuclear weapons.

This does not mean Tokyo will take a belligerent stance against Beijing. Takashima said China had been "consulted" before the aid reductions were made.

China has historically been the largest receiver of Japanese aid. In fiscal 2000, Japanese disbursements to China stood at $ 769 million. Those to India were only $ 368 million.

Japanese officials remind Indians that New Delhi was the first recipient of the then new Japanese foreign aid programme in 1958.



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