1.1 Purpose and Scope of the Book

International education cooperation throughout the world is at a historical turning point. After World War II, developing countries in Asia, Africa, and Latin America gained independence from colonial rule and strove to build nation-states by establishing modern education systems. The notion of “international cooperation in education” came into being during this postwar period, as former colonial powers began providing education sector assistance for their former colonies, including accepting international students from these countries. Members of the international community, including international and nongovernmental organizations (NGOs), were also involved in such assistance. For over 70 years, international education cooperation has grown significantly as a subsector of international cooperation. It is estimated, however, that there are still 773 million illiterate adults and 258 million children not receiving primary or secondary education worldwide and there is also a crisis of quality in education (UNESCO, 2020). Furthermore, the explosive increase in the global movement of people, rapid globalization of the economy, advancements in information and communications technology, and emergence of a knowledge-based economy are prompting educational transformation on a global scale. Whereas in the past educational aims and policies were discussed and implemented within the framework of nation-states, the international community has recognized the current worldwide crisis in education as a global issue and is building a global framework of governance for collaboration, cooperation, and problem-solving.

In Japan, hitozukuri (human resource development) is considered the foundation for development and has been a cornerstone of Japan’s Official Development Assistance (ODA) efforts in education, as expressed in various government policy documents and statements. Based upon this philosophy, Japan initially focused its cooperation efforts on technical and vocational education and training (TVET) and higher education. However, cooperation efforts in basic education expanded after education was explicitly recognized as a priority area for ODA in Japan. This was influenced by the worldwide “Education for All” (EFA) movement of the 1990s. Over the past 60 years, Japan’s long-standing involvement in unique education cooperation efforts has come to characterize its ODA, including large-scale projects to support the establishment of universities, industrial technical education provided in cooperation with private enterprises, and the dispatch of teachers as Japan Overseas Cooperation Volunteers (JOCVs). This wide range of international education cooperation efforts from primary to higher education has developed and shifted focus over time.

By reflecting on the past at this historic juncture in international education cooperation, this book explores a vision for Japan’s future international education cooperation initiatives. It provides a comprehensive record of Japan’s international education cooperation history, discussing distinctive features and shifts over time. It examines the ideals driving Japan’s international education cooperation, the contributions made, and the challenges faced and overcome, drawing some valuable implications for future policymaking and implementation.

The scope of Japan’s international education cooperation analyzed in this book is as follows:

  1. 1.

    Educational subsectors covered: Basic education (such as early childhood education, primary education, secondary education, and nonformal education), TVET, and higher education

  2. 2.

    Period covered: From the 1950s, when Japan commenced ODA, to the middle of the 2010s

  3. 3.

    Executing agencies covered: Public/private organizations and individuals in Japan, including the Government of Japan, the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA), and NGOs

Therefore, international education cooperation, as discussed in this book, consists of ODA projects and non-ODA projects. ODA projects include technical cooperation, grant aid, and ODA loans provided by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MOFA) and JICA (including JICA’s predecessors) in the education sector; the Japanese Government Scholarship Program for foreign students by the Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology (MEXT); cooperation extended by the Ministry of Finance (MOF), MOFA, and MEXT in the education sector through collaboration with international organizations; and private industrial human resource development offered by the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry (METI) and the Association for Overseas Technical Cooperation and Sustainable Partnerships (AOTS). Non-ODA projects include education cooperation by NGOs. In addition to the support provided by these government agencies and NGOs, Japan’s international education cooperation encompasses diverse forms of educational cooperation offered by universities, private enterprises, religious bodies, philanthropists, and so forth. However, it is extremely difficult to grasp the overall picture of Japan’s international education cooperation when considering all of these types of cooperation. Therefore, this book focuses solely on the ODA projects of the government agencies and non-ODA projects of NGOs—in other words, projects that can be analyzed empirically.

1.2 International Education Cooperation in Japan’s ODA

1.2.1 Features of Japan’s Educational Cooperation in Comparison to Overall ODA

Japan’s ODA has long been characterized as narrowly focusing on developing economic infrastructure, relying on loan projects, and emphasizing aid to the Asian region. Moreover, the system of management and implementation of Japanese ODA has been characterized as fragmented, with responsibility split among different government ministries and agencies. Considering these claims, this section aims to highlight the features of Japan’s international cooperation in education through ODA.

Many scholars have argued that Japan’s ODA is heavily focused on the development of economic infrastructure (Kato, 2016; Takahashi & Owa, 2017; Yoshida, 2009). Table 1.1 indicates the percentage of ODA for economic infrastructure and services, for social infrastructure and services, as well as for education and total commitments in education by major Development Assistance Committee (DAC) countries in 2018. As shown in previous research, at 67%, “economic infrastructure and services” does account for a high percentage of Japan’s total ODA, the largest among the DAC countries. By contrast, “education” represents only 4% of the total, the second smallest share among the DAC countries. However, one of the reasons for this small share is the scarcity of large loan projects in the education sector. In addition, cooperation projects in higher education and TVET are not classified as education sector projects but are instead listed under the project’s specific area of expertise. Nevertheless, Japan’s commitments in educational cooperation are small compared to other advanced countries.

Table 1.1 Sector-specific ODA commitments by major DAC countries as a percentage of each country’s total ODA (2018)

With regard to Japan’s ODA policymaking and implementation systems, many studies have discussed the lack of centralized ODA policymaking capabilities, with ODA implementation scattered across many ministries and agencies (Orr, 1990; Rix, 1980, 1993; Sato, 2016). Studies have also noted how this characteristic extends to the realm of educational cooperation (Kamibeppu, 2002; Yamada & Yoshida, 2016).

Educational cooperation project implementation is divided between several ministries and agencies based on their area of expertise and authority. For example, while MOFA and JICA implement grant aid, ODA loans, technical cooperation, and other projects, MEXT carries out the Japanese Government Scholarship Program for foreign students. Likewise, different ministries are responsible for cooperation with different international organizations and multilateral development banks, such as the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF), the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), and the World Bank. Furthermore, METI and AOTS are responsible for industrial human resource development in the private sector.

Though these international education cooperation projects are all funded through the Japanese government’s ODA budget, there is a lack of close coordination among the various ministries and agencies. Instead, cooperation projects tend to be carried out in accordance with the policy agenda and implementation policies of the ministries and agencies in charge rather than under a unified implementation scheme for ODA projects in the education sector. The ministries and agencies responsible for implementing Japan’s international education cooperation projects, as discussed in Chap. 2 onward, are shown in Fig. 1.1.

Fig. 1.1
figure 1

Japan’s ODA implementation system in the education sector

Source: Created by the author

Notes: Table contents are limited to the international education cooperation projects discussed in this book. Since the 1950s to the present, policymaking and implementing agencies for international education cooperation projects have undergone major changes, and data listed above are as of 2020

The third characteristic of Japan’s ODA is the large share of loan projects (Akiyama & Nakao, 2005; Kato, 2016; Kawai & Takagi, 2004). However, this characteristic does not apply to educational cooperation. The proportion of loan projects in Japan’s education cooperation was 26% in 2018, significantly less than that of total ODA at 71% (Table 1.2). Though loan project commitments vary greatly from year to year, data from 2015 to 2017 indicate that the total percentage of loans in the education sector was 16% in 2015, 0% in 2016, and 19% in 2017—20% or less in all 3 years. Technical cooperation accounts for nearly 50% of Japan’s ODA for educational cooperation, with 20–30% represented by grant aid. In the past, loan projects have been used to construct facilities to promote economic development, mainly in the fields of transport and energy, and only a small number of loan projects have been carried out in the education sector. Education development projects comprised only 1.8% of all loan projects implemented up to 2015.

Table 1.2 Japan’s technical cooperation, grant aid, and ODA loan commitments as a percentage of total education ODA (2018)

Finally, this section compares Japan’s regional commitments in educational cooperation with its total ODA commitments. As consistently cited in previous research, countries in the Asian region have been the principal recipients of Japan’s ODA (Kato, 2016; Kawai & Takagi, 2004; Takahashi & Owa, 2017). Yet in 2018, while 74% of Japan’s total ODA was directed to Asia and only 8% to Africa, 26% of ODA in the education sector was directed to Asia and 43% to Africa (Table 1.3). This indicates that Japan places greater emphasis on educational aid to Africa than to Asia.

Table 1.3 Japan’s ODA commitments in education by region as a percentage of total education ODA (2018)

As discussed in previous sections, Japan’s ODA in the education sector shares some general characteristics of Japanese ODA and not others. While ODA in education lacks the same unified policy and implementation systems missing in other ODA sectors, ODA loans are uncommon in education cooperation compared to Japan’s high percentage of ODA loans overall. Many educational cooperation projects provide support to African countries, in contrast to the heavy focus on Asian countries in Japanese ODA generally.

1.2.2 Previous Literature on Japan’s International Cooperation in Education

The characteristics of Japan’s international education cooperation and its historical development have not been well examined in previous research, particularly in the English-language literature. This section introduces the few studies written in English. Studies that discuss Japan’s international education cooperation in general are of Yamada and Yoshida (2016), Kamibeppu (2002), and Yoshida (2009). Yamada and Yoshida (2016) discuss the evolution of Japan’s educational cooperation from the 1950s to the 2010s, examining influential factors at the domestic and global levels. Kamibeppu (2002) gives a detailed analysis of the development of Japan’s educational cooperation from the 1950s to the 1990s, with a focus on subgovernments in education and ODA, examining their policies, initiatives, and interrelationships. His studies are unique in that they present abundant information on educational cooperation by the Ministry of Education (MOE), for which few records are available. The background paper written by Yoshida (2009) for UNESCO’s EFA Global Monitoring Report 2010 gives an overview of Japan’s ODA during the first decade of the twenty-first century. The report presents various data to highlight the goals, priorities, and recent trends in Japan’s educational cooperation, as well as Japan’s initiatives in basic education.

Another subset of English literature on Japan’s international cooperation in education offers in-depth analyses on specific topics. Kuroda and Hayashi (2015) examine shifts in the educational cooperation policies of JICA, MOE, and MOFA from the 1990s onward, with the focus of the analysis on self-help efforts, quality and equity of education, and peace. The research also emphasizes the importance of utilizing the integrated approach of peace, human rights, and development, which forms the fundamental basis of Japan’s position in the education sector. Yoshida (2015), who analyzes Japan’s educational cooperation policy and projects after 2000, argues that Japan should leverage its rich education cooperation experience in the field to contribute to international discussions on education development. To achieve this, however, Japan must first enhance its capability to translate the knowledge of field-level improvements into policy processes for educational development. King (2016) analyzes the Japanese characteristics of the Development Cooperation Charter of 2015 and shows that human resource development is a central focus of Japanese ODA. Furthermore, the Charter has strongly influenced the educational cooperation policies of MOFA and JICA, as reflected in the JICA Position Paper on Education Cooperation. Hotta (1991) examines the MOE’s educational cooperation and scholarship programs for foreign students during the 1980s, while Yokozeki and Sawamura (1999) analyze the issues JICA faced as it expanded cooperation in basic education during the 1990s. Sawamura (2002) explores the potential for Japan to make a unique contribution to debates about knowledge development in international cooperation in education by leveraging Japanese cultural values and intellectual traditions.

Finally, empirical studies on Japan’s international cooperation in education should be mentioned. Maeda (2007) analyzes power relations among stakeholders in development cooperation through a case study of JICA’s technical cooperation projects in mathematics and science education in Cambodia. Nakamura (2007) analyzes a project carried out by CanDo, a Japanese NGO working in Kenya from the perspective of self-help efforts.

The studies presented here represent the major studies on Japan’s international cooperation in education written in English. These studies provide valuable data and suggestions, but none give a comprehensive history of Japan’s diverse international education cooperation. To date, no study has covered the entire period from the 1950s to the present day, providing a balanced analysis of the basic education, TVET, and higher education subsectors while examining the different policymaking organizations and implementing agencies such as MOFA, MEXT, JICA, and NGOs. In this respect, this book is highly significant, as it represents the first effort to present an overall picture of Japan’s international cooperation in education.

1.3 Chronological Overview of Japan’s International Cooperation in Education: A 65-Year History of Cooperation

1.3.1 The Emergence of Educational Cooperation in Japan: Early Focus on TVET and Higher Education (1950s–1970s)

Japan’s ODA and implementation system were gradually established from the 1950s to the 1970s—a period of system development. These three decades focused on educational cooperation in TVET and higher education.

Japan’s first ODA projects involved the dispatch of experts and the acceptance of trainees, both of which began in 1954. However, such intermittent efforts failed to meet the huge human resource development needs of newly emerging independent countries. In response to these needs, technical training centers for training local skilled manpower were built in these countries at the end of the 1950s, marking the beginning of MOFA’s and, subsequently, JICA’s continuous and extensive technical cooperation in TVET. This period also witnessed the commencement of industrial human resource development support provided for developing countries in cooperation with private enterprises (ODA projects by AOTS, which was affiliated with METI). In higher education, MOE launched the Japanese Government Scholarship Program in 1954. Later, in the mid-1960s, technical cooperation projects by the predecessors of JICA began in the medical field for university schools of medicine and hospitals. Technical cooperation projects related to TVET began around 1960, followed by similar projects in the area of higher education (Fig. 1.2). Subsequently, in the 1970s, grant aid to establish vocational training institutes and provide facilities and equipment to universities was initiated to support TVET and higher education (Fig. 1.3).

Fig. 1.2
figure 2

JICA technical cooperation projects in education (cumulative amount for every 5 Japanese fiscal years)

Source: Created by the author based on the project list provided by the Review Committee on Japan’s International Cooperation in Education

Note: Technical cooperation indicates technical cooperation projects implemented by JICA and its predecessors

Fig. 1.3
figure 3

JICA & MOFA grant aid projects in education (cumulative amount for every 5 Japanese fiscal years)

Source: Created by the author based on the project list provided by the Review Committee on Japan’s International Cooperation in Education

Note: Grant aid indicates grant aid projects implemented by MOFA/JICA that disbursed 100 million yen or more

During this period, cooperation in basic education was limited compared to that for TVET and higher education. It consisted only of the dispatch of JOCVs by JICA, Science Education Cooperation Projects undertaken by the MOE, and projects carried out by the MOE in cooperation with UNESCO. These projects were very small in scale compared with those in TVET and higher education. Movement within the MOE to provide support for basic education, particularly in Asia, began in the 1960s but lost momentum in the mid-1970s as ODA stakeholders in Japan increasingly objected to cooperation in basic education (Saito, 2008).

In the 1960s and 1970s, UNESCO advocated for the formulation of education development plans and the spread of primary education in each region. On the other hand, the prevailing view among major donor countries and aid agencies, including the United States and the World Bank, was that the human resources required for modernization and industrialization in developing countries should be promoted through secondary education and technical training. While MOE’s collaboration with UNESCO and Science Education Cooperation followed UNESCO’s trends, the education cooperation programs conducted by MOFA and JICA were more in line with the view that emphasized human resource development for nation-building and focusing on TVET and higher education.

1.3.2 Period of Hitozukuri Cooperation Under the Rapid Expansion of ODA (1980s)

During the 1980s, Japan’s ODA expanded substantially through successive ODA medium-term targets, and hitozukuri (human resource development) became a driving philosophy of Japanese educational cooperation. The term hitozukuri has multiple meanings; in some cases, it refers widely to technical cooperation emphasizing the development of human resources engaged in development projects, and in others, it relates to overall education development for cultivating human resources in developing countries. Japan prioritized and approached cooperation in TVET and higher education based on these understandings of hitozukuri.

The concept of hitozukuri is rooted in two philosophies: firstly, that “human resource development is key to nation-building, based upon Japan’s belief rooted in its own development experience and in its experience through providing international cooperation in East Asia” (MOFA, 2004, p. 17) and, secondly, the idea that the development of human resource enables self-help efforts leading to autonomous development. JICA’s achievements in educational cooperation during the 1980s (Figs. 1.2, 1.3, and 1.4) show that, supported by the rapid expansion of ODA budgets and the policy of emphasizing hitozukuri, JICA substantially expanded education cooperation in TVET and higher education. In particular, the ratio of engineering-related projects was increased in both TVET and higher education to meet local needs for industrialization in developing countries, mainly in Asia.

Fig. 1.4
figure 4

JICA ODA loan projects in education (cumulative amount for every 5 Japanese fiscal years)

Source: Created by the author based on the project list provided by the Review Committee on Japan’s International Cooperation in Education

Note: ODA loans indicate ODA loan projects and programs carried out by the Overseas Economic Cooperation Fund (OECF), Japan Bank for International Cooperation (JBIC), and JICA (on a commitment basis) and do not include Private Sector Investment Finance projects by ODA. Some ODA loan projects are multi-(sub)sectoral projects that consist of several sector or subsector components. In these cases, since it was difficult to obtain complete information on the projects’ component costs, the total costs of each multi-(sub)sectoral project, instead of the costs of each project component, are used

Moreover, during the 1980s, ODA projects expanded overall, prompting new developments in educational cooperation. For example, at the end of the 1970s, ODA loans started to be applied to the education sector, enabling JICA to provide facilities and equipment to universities on a large scale. In addition, the Japanese government put forth the Plan to Accept 100,000 International Students, significantly boosting the number of students participating in the MOE’s Scholarship Program for foreign students.

Though the number of cooperation projects in basic education during the 1980s was small in comparison with projects in TVET and higher education, these projects brought about important changes that anticipated the arrival of the EFA era in the 1990s. Firstly, in the 1980s, grant aid began to be used for implementing basic education projects. This included the construction of school buildings for primary and secondary education and the establishment of teacher training schools, as well as the development of textbook printing facilities. In addition, during the 1980s, the number of educational cooperation projects implemented by NGOs increased dramatically. Due to the influx of refugees from Indochina during this period, NGOs were established in Japan as part of the support effort. Thus, as basic education was one of the main support areas for these NGOs, the number of NGO-sponsored projects in education increased.

1.3.3 Shift to Basic Education (1990s)

The World Conference on Education for All (WCEFA) in 1990 shifted the focus of education development toward basic education, which had a major impact on both developing and donor countries, including Japan. Consequently, in the early 1990s, the emphasis in Japan’s educational cooperation policy came to include basic education. Following the WCEFA, the Japanese government and aid-related agencies held repeated discussions, and the reports of the Study Group on Development Assistance for Development and Education, published by JICA in 1994, the ODA Medium-Term Policy of 1999, and other documents advocated a stronger focus on basic education. Throughout the 1990s, basic education steadily became an integral part of Japan’s aid policy (JICA, 1994; MOFA, 2002).

Following this shift in government policy, JICA’s basic education projects increased during the 1990s. This included primary and secondary school construction projects to improve access and the educational environment, capacity development projects for educational administrators and school managers, and school-based management projects with the community’s participation. Mathematics and science education were also improved through teacher training and teaching materials development. JICA focused on providing support for these subjects in the recognition that they are foundational for the promotion of science and technology in society and are one of Japan’s strengths.

The growth in contributions to basic education in the 1990s can also be observed in the pattern of JICA projects by the education sector (Figs. 1.2, 1.3, and 1.4). Starting in the first half of the 1990s, grant aid project contributions to basic education overtook contributions to TVET (Fig. 1.3). From the middle of the 1990s, cooperation in basic education began to expand to technical cooperation projects (Fig. 1.2). Moreover, in terms of ODA loans (Fig. 1.4), the number of projects, such as school construction for basic education, grew in the 1990s. However, it should be noted that, in terms of ODA loans, while the number of basic education projects rose, higher education projects also continued to rise.

The ODA Scholarship Program for foreign students, which had expanded since the 1980s, became even larger in the 1990s, and the MOE’s annual budget for the program exceeded 55 billion yen during the second half of the 1990s (Fig. 1.5). The largest expenditure in Japan’s ODA for the education sector is the budget for the MEXT Scholarship Programs for foreign students, which remains one of the flagship programs of educational ODA in Japan.

Fig. 1.5
figure 5

MEXT budgets related to international student exchange

Source: Created by the author based on the following materials: Budgets for international student exchange between 1983 and 2005: MEXT. Wagakuni no ryugakusei seido no gaiyo.—ukeire oyobi haken. heisei 18 nendo ban [Outline of Japan’s International Student System—Acceptance and Dispatch: 2006 edition].Budgets for international student exchange between 2006 and 2016: MEXT websites (

During this period, the target areas for educational cooperation, which had focused on Asia up to the 1980s, were expanded to cover Africa and other regions. In addition, a system was established to implement ODA projects in cooperation with Japanese and local NGOs, enabling support for nonformal education and girl’s education at the grassroots level, which had not previously been covered by ODA projects.

1.3.4 Period of Global Governance of Educational Cooperation (2000s and Thereafter)

After 2000, Japan’s educational cooperation development was influenced considerably by global governance initiatives in the international community, such as the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) and the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). In 2002, the Japanese government announced “Basic Education for Growth Initiative (BEGIN)” as Japan’s first aid policy for basic education (Government of Japan [GoJ], 2002). The government drew up Japan’s Education Cooperation Policy 2011–2015 in 2010 and the “Learning Strategy for Peace and Growth” in 2015. Following the global trend toward the reevaluation of higher education, the educational cooperation policies of 2010 and 2015 included a balance of basic education and higher education/TVET (GoJ, 2010, 2015b).

Shifts in the distribution of JICA’s educational cooperation projects based on technical cooperation, grant aid, and ODA loans after 2000 indicate that basic education, TVET, and higher education projects were given equal priority in accordance with the Japanese government’s educational cooperation policy. Basic education and higher education occupy larger shares of total grant aid and total ODA loans, respectively, but the difference between the three subsectors has continued to shrink (Figs. 1.3 and 1.4). In terms of technical cooperation, the number of projects among the three subsectors is relatively well-balanced (Fig. 1.2).

The following section looks in more details at the development of Japan’s international education cooperation and its characteristics in the three subsectors: basic education, TVET, and higher education.

1.4 The Development of Japan’s International Education Cooperation Through Basic Education, TVET, and Higher Education

1.4.1 Basic Education Cooperation

As described above, the WCEFA—held in Jomtien in 1990—prompted Japan to provide full-scale cooperation in basic education, building on the various small-scale efforts made previously. The first example of this was primary education cooperation initiated by the MOE in collaboration with UNESCO in the 1960s. In the early 1960s, UNESCO advocated universal primary education through the adoption of the Karachi Plan in 1960, the Addis Ababa Plan in 1961, and the Santiago Plan in 1962. The MOE actively supported these programs, chiefly by participating in and hosting international conferences, carrying out training projects for Asian educational administrators, and sending consulting missions to UNESCO member countries in Asia. Furthermore, in 1966, the Ministry launched the Science Education Cooperation Projects, which involved the dispatch of experts in science education and the provision of equipment and materials (implementation was outsourced to JICA). These efforts also followed UNESCO’s primary education development policy (see Chap. 2).

During the 1980s, grant aid projects in the area of basic education began with the construction of elementary and junior high school buildings and teacher training centers, along with the development of textbook printing facilities and equipment. Underlying this change was the Japanese government’s new emphasis on the importance of hitozukuri cooperation during the 1980s and the beginning of the shift in focus to primary education by the World Bank. At the same time, Japan’s grant aid expanded rapidly owing to several successive ODA doubling plans. This resulted in the support to the projects to develop facilities and equipment for primary education, where needs were high among developing countries. Prior to 1990, involvement in cooperation for basic education was scorned among Japanese aid providers, as primary education was viewed purely as a national issue for each country, and foreign countries should not involve themselves in this area without careful forethought. However, cooperation in facility development, such as construction of elementary, junior high, and teacher training schools, was regarded as value-neutral and tolerated. As described above, support for primary and secondary education was provided sporadically on a small scale from the 1960s to the 1980s, and it was only after WCEFA that Japan committed fully to basic education cooperation.

After the World Conference, basic education became one of Japan’s educational cooperation priorities through discussions at JICA’s Study Group on Development Assistance for Development and Education and other initiatives (JICA, 1994). ODA for basic education expanded rapidly during the 1990s and thereafter. Projects in this area can be divided mainly into five types listed below. The first is projects to construct schools and develop teacher training facilities using grant aid, which had already commenced in the 1980s (see Chap. 4). Another involves ODA loan projects, which began with the Human Resources Development Sector Investment Loan Project for Jordan in 1990. Many of these ODA loan projects, which consisted mainly of the construction of elementary and junior high school buildings, were carried out through joint financing with the World Bank or the Asian Development Bank (see Chap. 13).

The third and fourth types of cooperation comprise technical cooperation projects. The third type consists of projects to improve education in mathematics and science, which began in the mid-1990s and increased sharply around the end of the decade. These technical cooperation projects are aimed at improving classroom teaching through support for pre- and in-service teacher training, mainly in mathematics and science. Some of the early mathematics and science education projects were extensions of projects that had been implemented by the Science Education Cooperation between the 1960s and the 1980s (see Chap. 5).

The fourth type of basic education cooperation, also comprising technical cooperation projects, began around the end of the 1990s and was designed to enhance education governance capabilities and improve school-based management. Such initiatives gained traction as Japanese aid stakeholders increasingly recognized the necessity of improving central and local education governance and training educational administrators in developing countries. This recognition was built through the implementation of earlier projects such as school construction, teacher training, and mathematics and science education (see Chap. 6).

The fifth type is basic education cooperation through international organizations. New trust funds were created and contributed to UNESCO in the 1990s, following government policies that emphasized basic education cooperation. Furthermore, around 2000, the number of basic education cooperation projects in post-conflict and disaster-stricken areas started to increase via UNICEF. As described above, Japan’s ODA projects in basic education expanded rapidly during the 1990s, and at the end of the decade, grant aid, ODA loans, technical cooperation, and cooperation through international organizations were all established as important initiatives for basic education (see Chap. 11).

In the early 2000s, the government announced BEGIN (GoJ, 2002), positioning basic education as the key cooperation area in ODA in both name and practice. The expansion of basic education cooperation in the 1990s and the 2000s can be seen in Figs. 1.2, 1.3, and 1.4. In the 2000s, the same focus of basic education cooperation projects as in the 1990s was maintained in principle, but new initiatives and developments have also been observed. For example, new types of grant aid projects for school construction started to meet specific needs, such as disaster risk reduction, reconstruction from disaster, cooperation with NGOs, and post-conflict response. Some projects introduced new modalities to utilize local constructors instead of Japanese contractors to reduce school construction costs. In the area of mathematics and science education, from the 2000s on, JICA strove to meet the diverse needs associated with children’s learning by developing and disseminating new curriculums, textbooks, and teacher’s guides and improving methods to assess students’ academic achievement in addition to teacher training.

JOCVs have been also important actors in Japan’s basic education cooperation. Founded in 1965, JOCV deploys many overseas volunteers to work on projects in basic education, including elementary school teachers, mathematics and science teachers, sports instructors, Japanese-language teachers, and youth activity leaders. The number of posts increased for mathematics and science teachers during the 1980s, sports instructors during the 1990s, and elementary school teachers and youth activity leaders during the 2000s. The number of JOCVs dispatched in each post varied from one period to another, but the overall number of JOCVs dispatched in the education sector, particularly in basic education, has grown consistently. The share of JOCVs in the education sector, which stood at only around 5% of the total when the JOCV program was created, has reached nearly half of today’s total. This increase, however, is due more to the gradual diversification and increase of education-related posts to meet a wide range of educational needs in developing countries than to the effects of Japan’s educational cooperation policy as typified by BEGIN. In addition, this represents a response to the gradual shift in the characteristics of Japanese youths who apply for the JOCV program, moving away from field-oriented technicians toward university graduates in nontechnical areas. Some former JOCVs in education became experts in technical cooperation projects or consultants for grant aid projects during the 1990s. The rapid expansion of Japan’s ODA in basic education in the 1990s would have been difficult without the significant contributions to education made by these former JOCV members (see Chap. 14).

Japanese NGOs have also played an important role in basic education cooperation. Even before the 1980s, pioneering NGOs in the education sector had begun to engage in aid activities, but it was during the 1980s that basic education cooperation by NGOs in areas such as school construction, literacy education, and reading promotion increased. The circumstances surrounding this development included the Indochina refugee crisis in 1980, which aroused interest in NGOs in Japan. Basic education constituted an important part of NGO activities, and as a result, cooperation programs for basic education through NGOs rapidly increased. Later, during the 1990s, NGOs strove to hone their specialization, and in the 2000s and thereafter, NGOs further expanded the scope of their activities to include advocating and lobbying of education cooperation policy and establishing closer cooperation among NGOs (see Chap. 12).

Due to limited space, this book cannot devote separate chapters to cooperation programs for inclusive education. Still, it should be mentioned that the number of JICA projects to support education for disadvantaged populations has grown since 2000. Examples include projects for literacy education, female education, education for disabled children, support for education in post-conflict areas and areas surrounding conflict-afflicted countries, as well as post-disaster reconstruction of education. There are multiple factors behind the launch of these new initiatives: First, the education development needs of developing countries have shifted from raising the overall school attendance rate to ensuring that every child has access to schooling. Second, human security has become a central focus of Japan’s aid philosophy in this century. Human security is “a concept that pursues the right of individuals to live happily and in dignity, free from fear and want, through their protection and empowerment” (GoJ, 2015a) and focuses the specific needs of vulnerable populations such as girls and women, people with disabilities, the elderly, refugees, and ethnic minorities. Third, aid practitioners in Japan have increased experience in and knowledge of education development and are better able to address more complicated educational issues. Finally, an increasing number of projects are being carried out at the grassroots level through cooperation between Japanese and local NGOs.

Finally, this section describes three features of the history of Japan’s basic education cooperation. The first is that many of Japan’s initiatives for basic education cooperation began in the 1990s, spurred on by world trends in education development that were triggered by the WCEFA. During the 1990s, Japan’s aid shifted from quantitative expansion to qualitative deepening. In 1992, the Government established the first Official Development Assistance Charter, which was Japan’s first comprehensive aid policy that incorporated international trends in development (GoJ, 1992). The world movement toward emphasizing basic education development, which began during this period, had major effects on Japan’s educational cooperation policy and projects. Such shifts toward basic education were further enabled by the ample ODA budgets at the time. Even after growing rapidly during the 1980s, Japan’s ODA budgets continued to increase until 1997, putting Japan at the top of the world donor list throughout the 1990s. This growth in total ODA funding was one of the driving factors behind Japan’s ability to newly commit to basic education cooperation.

The second feature of Japan’s basic education cooperation history is that ODA in basic education focused mainly on the improvement of education in mathematics and science and the construction of schools. This tendency was particularly remarkable for JICA’s projects. Only in recent years has there been growth in the number of new initiatives for basic education cooperation, including education for disabled children and support for reconstruction from disaster and conflict. Elementary and junior high school construction projects increased rapidly during the 1990s, due in part to the growing need to improve access to education in developing countries from the 1990s to the 2000s. These projects allowed Japan to show and accumulate tangible results, as the country lacked sufficient experience and know-how in the early years of its basic education cooperation. In the second half of the 1990s, projects aimed at improving mathematics and science education began to focus on improving classroom instruction. As a result, efforts were made to improve the capacities of teachers, upgrade pre- and in-service teacher training, and develop teaching methods and materials for better lessons. In improving mathematics and science education, aid practitioners took a strong interest in the way lessons were given, reflecting the Japanese view of emphasizing the role of the teacher.

The third feature is that, despite the seemingly sudden onset of basic education cooperation in the 1990s, these efforts were not always new but extensions of previous cooperation efforts. For example, while school construction through grant aid played a central role in basic education cooperation in the 1990s, these efforts expanded on initiatives started in the 1980s. Another example was JICA’s first technical cooperation project to improve mathematics and science education in the Philippines, launched in 1994. This project was based on the MOE’s Science Education Cooperation Project, which had been in effect in the Philippines since the 1970s. Furthermore, as described above, without existing human resources such as former JOCV experts and consultants, basic education cooperation projects in the 1990s and thereafter would not have grown so rapidly. Thus, though such connections have largely been forgotten over time, retrospective analysis shows that some of the early initiatives for basic education cooperation laid the foundation for the full-scale efforts of the 1990s.

1.4.2 Technical and Vocational Education and Training (TVET) Cooperation

As discussed in Chap. 7, TVET is an area that is difficult to define in both concept and scope. In a broad sense, TVET encompasses formal and nonformal education and training to impart vocational skills and knowledge. However, by this definition, nearly all JICA technical cooperation projects contain TVET elements, whether large or small in scale. Moreover, efforts to impart vocational skills and knowledge are an integral part of economic activities in the private sector, though it is difficult to comprehensively ascertain all technology transfers and technical guidance based on non-ODA funding. Therefore, as specific initiatives in this area, this book focuses primarily on JICA’s cooperation with TVET institutions (such as technical colleges, vocational schools, and vocational training centers), support for the establishment of TVET-related policies and systems, and cooperation offered by AOTS in industrial human resource development of the private sector (see Chaps. 7 and 8).

In 1959, to promote human resource development and technology transfer in developing countries, project-type cooperation was initiated by establishing technical training centers in developing countries for local skill training. This was the prototype of today’s JICA’s technical cooperation projects. Indeed, it can be said that JICA’s technical cooperation in developing countries began with TVET cooperation. Many of these technical training centers, which covered telecommunications, small- and medium-sized industries, agriculture, fisheries, and other industries, were intended to develop mid- to low-skilled workers. They aimed primarily at developing the human resources required for economic development in partner countries while anticipating that such growth would positively affect the promotion of exports from Japan. As ODA budgets expanded from the end of the 1970s, TVET-related technical cooperation and grant aid steadily increased in scale.

In the private sector, AOTS, a prominent TVET implementing agency, was established in 1959. The AOTS technical training program was implemented at the request of Japanese private enterprises and conducted in cooperation with such enterprises by combining ODA funding and private capital. In addition to contributing to the development of human resources in developing countries, the objectives were to encourage the overseas expansion of Japanese businesses and promote exports from Japan. As Japan achieved rapid economic growth during the 1960s and Japanese companies actively developed business overseas, backed by the full liberalization of foreign investment in 1972, AOTS’s technical training efforts expanded from the 1960s to the 1970s. During this period, many of its features were diversified, including program length, content (as exemplified by the Management Training Course established in 1977), and implementation methods (as exemplified by the Overseas Training Program established in 1979).

In the 1980s, the importance of hitozukuri was often stressed in Japan’s development assistance, as the term gained momentum in the Japanese aid community. As already noted, hitozukuri is a guiding principle of Japan’s development assistance, putting human resource development at the center of international cooperation as the key to enabling self-help efforts. With the announcement of the ASEAN Hitozukuri Cooperation Projects in 1981, large-scale cooperation projects which combined technical cooperation and grant aid were carried out in five ASEAN countries throughout the 1980s. These projects embodied the core tenets of hitozukuri by improving the capacity of vocational training instructors, rural community development leaders, and public health workers. During this period, a small number of nontechnical training programs began, providing training in trade management and production management. In the 1990s, the WCEFA prompted a worldwide trend toward basic education development. Although grant aid projects in TVET shrank during this period, the number of TVET technical cooperation projects remained constant, and the number of TVET ODA loan projects even grew (Figs. 1.2, 1.3, and 1.4).

AOTS Technical Training Program also expanded from the 1980s to the 1990s. In 1991, Japan’s bubble economy collapsed, and an economic slump ensued, but training provided by AOTS grew rapidly during the 1990s. Japan’s foreign direct investments in Asia grew steadily from the 1980s and continued to increase in the 1990s despite the economic issues in Japan and the Asian currency crisis in 1997. Subsequently, the need for local human resource development for the Japanese-affiliated manufacturing businesses that had advanced into overseas markets led to the expansion of AOTS training projects. However, immediately after the Asian currency crisis, the number of trainees invited to Japan dropped temporarily.

JICA’s TVET projects in the 2000s and 2010s were characterized by their shrinkage in size and increasing diversification. During the first 15 years of this century, the expenditure of JICA technical cooperation projects in TVET fell to nearly half that of the previous level in response to the decreasing ODA budgets during the 2000s. TVET grant aid projects also continued to fall. However, while the scale of the cooperation decreased, the content of TVET cooperation became more diverse. One example is the expansion of training in nontechnical areas. JICA’s TVET cooperation was originally focused on technical and skill training for field-oriented technicians in industries such as manufacturing and agriculture, but in the 2000s and thereafter, the number of training programs in the area of the so-called intangibles increased, including business administration, trade management, and business skills.

Another new program under the diversification of TVET cooperation was the introduction of a new model of cooperation to support TVET policy and strengthen TVET systems. JICA’s TVET cooperation initially focused on providing support to individual organizations such as schools and centers for vocational training and technical education. However, since the 2000s, projects have been implemented to improve TVET systems by enhancing the capabilities of administrative agencies in charge of TVET policy and introducing new training models. In addition, there was an increase in vocational training projects aimed at improving the livelihood of socially disadvantaged groups, such as demobilized soldiers, the poor, women, and people with disabilities, although in small numbers. These projects introduced a new type of TVET that was dramatically different from past projects in terms of objectives and target areas. In the past, projects aimed to promote industry by training skilled workers, technicians, and administrators in the production sector. This change indicates that, in addition to TVET for hitozukuri, TVET cooperation was beginning to shift its focus toward human security, which became the main guiding principle of Japan’s ODA after 2000.

Finally, this section presents three features of the history of cooperation in TVET. Firstly, international cooperation in TVET highlights many of the general characteristics of Japan’s ODA. For example, Japan’s philosophy that human resource development, hitozukuri, is the linchpin of economic growth and nation-building underlies the guiding principles and character of TVET projects. Since its inception, a distinctive feature of Japan’s ODA was its focus on the overseas business development of Japanese companies and the promotion of exports from Japan, and TVET projects were carried out with these interests in mind. However, in recent years, some vocational training projects have been conceptualized as a social safety net from the viewpoint of human security, mirroring the shift in philosophy in Japan’s ODA overall. Trends in TVET projects during the past half-century have also embodied many of the shifts in Japan’s overall ODA. As explained above, these trends include the expansion from technical training in tangible areas to nontechnical training in the area of intangibles, the spread of TVET projects from support for individual education and training institutes to that for TVET policymaking and system improvement, and the shift away from an emphasis on Asia to project implementation in Africa.

The second issue concerns hitozukuri, a concept that has repeatedly been referred to as a guiding principle of Japan’s ODA since the 1980s. The guiding principle is that “nation-building starts with hitozukuri.” It is therefore an approach that emphasizes human resource development and runs through not only TVET in a narrow sense but also technical cooperation in general, as well as Japanese ODA overall. While a comprehensive analysis of ODA projects from the perspective of hitozukuri would allow for a deeper understanding of the concept, such an analysis would exceed the scope of this book. Instead, this book focuses on the history of educational cooperation and describes only the guiding principles and policy changes of hitozukuri as it pertains to this aim. The authors expect that, in the future, empirical analyses of Japan’s ODA from the perspective of hitozukuri will be conducted in a more comprehensive manner.

Lastly, this section describes recent changes in TVET. Little attention was paid to the area of TVET cooperation after the period of EFA in the 1990s, but in recent years, it has once again come under the spotlight. Due to the EFA movement, the attendance rate for basic education has improved significantly in almost all developing countries, prompting renewed attention on TVET and science and technology education in secondary and higher education. Furthermore, the private sector has become increasingly involved in development since the 2000s, and the role of Japanese and local private enterprises in economic activities has been emphasized in ODA as well. This has prompted the need for a new form of TVET, in which private enterprises take the initiative in developing human resources through cooperation between the private sector and ODA, in some cases calling on TVET to contribute to the overseas expansion of Japanese businesses. Thus, ODA is shifting from government-led aid projects to development projects based on cooperation with the private sector, with TVET cooperation following suit.

1.4.3 Higher Education Cooperation

Higher education has long constituted an important part of Japan’s educational cooperation. Japan has contributed to economic and social development in developing countries by establishing universities, developing capable human resources, and providing opportunities to study in Japan. As examples of such cooperation, this book examines projects to develop higher education institutions and provide opportunities for studying in Japan, implemented by JICA and MEXT since the 1960s (see Chaps. 9 and 10).

In 1954, Japan commenced its ODA program by joining the Colombo Plan, and in the same year, the MOE established the Japanese Government Scholarship Program, with 23 students (including 17 from developing countries) participating in the inaugural year. From the end of the 1970s to the early 1980s, various types of Japanese Government Scholarship Programs were established, including the Honors Scholarship for Privately Financed International Students and Scholarships for Japanese Studies Students, Teacher Training Students, College of Technology Students, and Specialized Training College Students. Yet in the 1970s, the number of government scholarship students enrolled in Japanese higher education institutions nationwide was still small, at only about 1,100.

On the other hand, cooperation aimed at developing higher education institutions in developing countries began in the mid-1960s. Since the start of ODA in 1954, mobile clinics of doctors and nurses were dispatched to developing countries, but the program proved unsustainable. To establish a permanent avenue for cooperation, the development of local healthcare workers was required, prompting the implementation of projects to establish and strengthen schools of medicine and other facilities.

From the 1980s to the 1990s, the number of government scholarship students increased rapidly. When combining MOE government scholarship students and JICA scholarship students, nearly 9,000 ODA scholarship students were enrolled in Japan’s higher education institutions at the end of the 1990s—an eightfold increase compared to the 1970s. This was due in part to the government’s Plan to Accept 100,000 International Students in 1983 and the subsequent rapid increase of the MOE budget for international student exchange. In the second half of the 1990s, the budget reached about 55 billion yen annually (Fig. 1.5). Another factor was the launch of scholarship programs through JICA’s ODA loans, grant aid, and technical cooperation projects from the end of the 1980s. Together with the promotion of friendship and development cooperation, intellectual contributions to the international community was newly promoted as a guiding principle of Japan’s Government Scholarship Programs, which helped to strengthen Japan’s influence in the international community. Another major characteristic during this period was the increase in government scholarship students from China following the restoration of diplomatic relations between Japan and China in 1978. Around 1990, the World Bank, ADB, and International Monetary Fund (IMF) also launched international student scholarship programs for studying in Japan, utilizing financial contributions from the Japanese government. These programs aimed to contribute to human resource development in developing countries through international organizations.

In the 1980s and 1990s, in parallel with the expansion of the ODA Scholarship Program for foreign students, JICA projects to develop higher education institutions in developing countries grew. In addition to technical cooperation projects, large-scale ODA loans and grant aid projects to construct university campuses and provide equipment were implemented in rapid succession. The scope of cooperation widened to cover faculties of not only medicine but also engineering and agriculture. The growth in university development projects in this period was largely attributed to the growing needs of developing countries, mainly in Asia, for professional human resource development, as well as the substantial expansion of whole Japanese ODA budgets in the 1980s and thereafter. It was also during this period that joint research-oriented ODA programs such as the Core University Program by the Japan Society for the Promotion of Science began. These efforts were bolstered by the progress made by developing countries in establishing universities and Japan’s increased interest in academic research related to developing countries. With the post-WCEFA shift toward basic education in 1990, many donors reduced higher education cooperation budgets, but JICA did not completely reduce its projects aimed at developing higher education institutions.

In the early twenty-first century, as globalization progressed rapidly, higher education in Japan and developing countries became increasingly internationalized, prompting even further internationalization of universities. In Japan, the goal of the 100,000 International Students Plan was achieved in 2003, and subsequently, in 2008, the government unveiled the new 300,000 International Students Plan. New guiding principles, such as promoting the internationalization of higher education and securing highly competent human resources from overseas, were added to the ODA Scholarship Program for foreign students. The number of international students studying in Japan has continued to grow, exceeding 310,000 (including almost 230,000 students enrolled in higher education institutions) in 2019 (Japan Student Services Organization, 2019)—about five times the number in 2000. However, during the same period, the total number of students invited under the ODA Scholarship Program, including the Japanese Government Scholarship Program and the JICA Scholarship Program, remained almost unchanged at around 10,000.

From the 1980s to the 1990s, backed by substantial growth in the ODA budget, the increasing number of government scholarship students became an important pillar of Japan’s international student policy. However, international student policy in the 2000s and thereafter shifted toward emphasizing the internationalization of universities with the focus on increasing the number of privately financed international students. In fact, the government has taken various successive measures for university reform combining two objectives: internationalizing universities in a comprehensive manner and increasing the number of international students in Japan. Examples include the Asian Gateway Initiative (from 2007), the Project for Establishing University Network for Internationalization (from 2009), and the Top Global University Project (from 2014).

Though the 1990s was defined by the global focus on basic education, in the early 2000s, the importance of higher education was again recognized in response to the advancement of the knowledge-based society and in anticipation of the promotion of innovation. In addition to this reevaluation of higher education, JICA’s projects to develop higher education institutions in the 2000s and thereafter have been strongly influenced by trends toward the internationalization of higher education. As a result, there has been an increase in new types of projects, including plans to create an interuniversity network, promote student exchange and international collaborative research, and co-found universities between Japan and partner countries. Furthermore, in 2008, the Science and Technology Research Partnership for Sustainable Development (SATREPS), a large-scale joint research program, was launched. Through these new types of projects, Japan’s higher education cooperation has gradually shifted from one-way technology transfer and knowledge impartment from Japan to developing countries to more horizontal academic exchange.

This section describes three features of the history of Japan’s higher education cooperation. Firstly, the history of higher education cooperation can be divided into three major periods: the period of the emergence of higher education cooperation from the 1950s to the 1970s, the period of ODA expansion and hitozukuri cooperation from the 1980s to the 1990s, and the period of internationalization in the 2000s and thereafter. The development cooperation of higher education institutions and the ODA Scholarship Program for foreign students began in the early period of Japan’s ODA history in the 1950s and achieved rapid expansion in the 1980s. Although global trends in education development shifted significantly toward EFA in the 1990s, Japan maintained its scale of higher education cooperation during this period, even expanding it in some cases. From the 1980s to the 1990s, Japan’s ODA budgets continued to grow, and this abundant financial resource was used to respond to the increasing development needs of higher education, mainly in Asia. During the 1980s, the Japanese government frequently advocated hitozukuri cooperation. This vision of hitozukuri may have helped create an enabling environment necessary for the expansion of higher education cooperation. In the 2000s and thereafter, however, trends in higher education cooperation shifted away from quantitative expansion toward initiatives promoting the internationalization of higher education.

The second characteristic is that Japanese higher education cooperation focuses mainly on inviting international students to Japan and developing universities in developing countries. While sector-level approaches to higher education policies and systems (such as accreditation of higher education institutions and distribution of competitive research funds) are important for improving higher education in developing countries, Japan’s higher education cooperation has concentrated on inbound student mobility and university development projects, as mentioned above. At the same time, however, this focus may not be specific to Japan. Since higher education policy is easily politicized, there is a tendency for donor countries to focus on developing individual educational institutions and offering scholarships for international students rather than supporting policy and systems in their bilateral assistance.

The final feature is the prevalence of participation by Japanese universities. The largest difference between Japan’s cooperation in higher education, basic education, and TVET is that higher education has always involved broad participation by higher education stakeholders in Japan, particularly university faculties. University faculties in Japan have not only received government scholarship students but have also worked tirelessly to support universities in developing countries. Since the 2000s, Japanese universities have promoted internationalization by expanding exchanges with overseas universities and hosting more international students. This trend toward internationalization at the university level has had major effects on ODA-based higher education cooperation. Thus, it is now important to strengthen the collaboration between the universities and the aid communities in Japan to improve higher education cooperation, as well as the internationalization of Japanese universities.

1.5 Analytical Perspectives on Japan’s Educational Cooperation

A survey of the approximately 65-year history of Japan’s international education cooperation indicates that there has been a wide range of initiatives in this sphere. The progression of initiatives over time can be combined to form a history of educational cooperation as a whole while still recognizing that they involve diverse changes caused by different factors and that such a history is not always linear. Imagine a great river, formed through the merging of many tributaries, running at different speeds and entering from different directions, despite appearing to be a single seamless flow on the surface. To examine such tributaries, this book divides educational cooperation into three subsectors: (1) basic education (Chaps. 4, 5, and 6), (2) TVET (Chaps. 7 and 8), and (3) higher education (Chaps. 9 and 10). It analyzes the major initiatives in each subsector. At the same time, it discusses policies and projects that are difficult to categorize by subsector in separate chapters: educational cooperation policy in Chaps. 1 and 2, international organizations in Chap. 11, NGOs in Chap. 12, ODA loans in Chap. 13, and JOCV in Chap. 14.

Trends in international education cooperation have been influenced by various factors. The WCEFA, held in 1990, had major effects on Japan’s educational cooperation, but not all changes can be attributed to this conference. Over the years, many overlapping factors have been influential in the formation of Japan’s history of international cooperation in education. This book examines such factors from the following perspectives: (1) engagement and collaboration with the international community; (2) Japan’s own historical experience; (3) structure and implementation of Japan’s international cooperation and assistance; (4) philosophy of self-help efforts; (5) philosophy of hitozukuri (human resource development); (6) human security, peace, and sustainable development; and (7) formation of a community of experts and stakeholders focused on field-based knowledge and experiences. Furthermore, based on the analysis of over half a century of shifts in Japan’s international education cooperation, this book suggests directions for future policymaking and project improvement by clarifying what cooperation has striven for, what contributions it has made, and what challenges it has faced and overcome.