Japanese ODA has attracted much attention in the last three decades. This paper aims to shed light on the intellectual evolution of the official discourse on Japanese ODA based on the analysis of two main ‘modes of thought’ at the foundation of it, namely national interest and international affiliation. Based on a detailed content analysis of official documents and public debates, the paper will take the role of institutional actors – Japanese political leaders, foreign ministers and intellectuals – into consideration. The role of such “entrepreneurs” has been crucial for shaping the current official discourse on Japanese foreign aid. The paper will argue, in fact, that the official discourse is a juxtaposition of two clashing ideas carefully shaped to enlarge the consensus (both domestic and external) toward the Japanese government’s policies.
Japanese foreign aid. International development. Ideas. Discourse. Public policy. Sociology of knowledge.