AID TRANSPARENCY ANALYSIS
Japan is the fourth largest DAC donor, spending over USD 14bn in 2012. The 2014 ATI assesses the transparency of the principal government organisations engaged in development cooperation in Japan: the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MOFA), which is responsible for setting policy and overseeing implementation; and the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA), which is the main implementing agency. Several other ministries and agencies – especially the Ministry of Finance (MOF) and the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry (METI) – are responsible for smaller amounts of development cooperation spending.
In recent years Japan has made several important national commitments on transparency and open data. In 2012, it adopted an Open Government Data strategy which set in motion its efforts to improve the government’s transparency and accountability and promote open data use. Its Open Data Charter Action plan, released in October 2013, notes that publication of openly-licenced, machine-readable datasets on global development will be expanded gradually after FY 2014. A revision of its development policy – the ODA Charter – is planned for 2014. In 2013, along with other G8 members (now G7), Japan reaffirmed its commitment to implement the common standard (including IATI) by 2015.
In line with the commitments outlined above, a beta-version of Japan’s national open data portal was launched in December 2013, with over 10000 datasets and documents from national and local governments, independent administrative agencies and other public entities. In June 2014, Japan began publishing information to the IATI Standard on grants, loans and technical assistance provided by Japan in 2012, as well as ODA loans provided by JICA in 2013. This initial publication by Japan and its renewed engagement with IATI is welcomed as a positive step towards advancing its commitments to aid transparency.
JICA and MOFA also jointly run the ODA mieruka (“visualising”) initiative to increase the visibility of Japanese aid and to consolidate available online information. It covers approximately 1,800 projects, comprising recent technical cooperation projects of over USD 200m as well as loans and grants.
The overall score for JICA, ranked 33rd, has improved significantly, increasing by over 13 percentage points compared to 2013. The level of information on current activities implemented by MOFA, ranked 53rd, however has remained more of less the same as previous years. Overall, both agencies need to significantly increase their efforts on improving the comprehensiveness, quality and timeliness of their IATI data.
- Japan should ensure its transparency commitments are included in the revised development policy, in order to provide political and financial support for the sustainable production of high quality information on Japanese aid, for use both internally and externally.
- Japan should become a member of IATI and engage with the IATI community on best practices in publishing information on its development cooperation activities.
- It should update its common standard implementation schedule in 2014 so it is ambitious, with specific timelines and delivery targets, aiming towards full implementation of the IATI Standard by Japan’s principal aid spending agencies by the end of 2015.
- Japan should join OGP. This would be an opportunity to share best practice in open data and open government approaches.