1 Definition and Scope of International Cooperation for the Development of Higher Education Institutions Through Japan’s ODA

Japan’s support for higher education institutions in developing countries commenced in the early years of its Official Development Assistance (ODA) as part of the country’s international education cooperation programs. Under Japan’s ODA, for example, the Nondhaburi Telecommunications Training Center was established in 1961 in Thailand. It was turned into a technical college in 1964 and into King Mongkut’s Institute of Technology Ladkrabang in 1971. With Japan’s continuous technical and financial support, the Institute has become one of Thailand’s leading universities, including offering PhD programs. Over these years, Japan provided 4.7 billion yen for the development of its facilities and equipment. In addition, approximately 350 university lecturers and technical experts were dispatched from Japan to engage in curriculum development and teacher training, and about 90 Thai lecturers were invited to Japan to attend short-term training or university degree programs (JICA, 2009). Cooperation projects to establish and develop higher education institutions have been implemented by the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA), Japan’s bilateral aid agency (including the Overseas Technical Cooperation Agency (OTCA) and the Overseas Economic Cooperation Fund (OECF), both forerunners of JICA). This chapter describes educational cooperation implemented by JICA for the development of higher education institutions.

Teaching, research, and community service are the three main functions of universities (OECD, 1999). In performing these functions, universities in developing countries have played important roles in contributing to many countries’ socioeconomic development. Universities transfer knowledge, technology, and philosophy to people through teaching, thereby creating the human resources essential for national and regional development. Through research activities, universities create new knowledge and technologies, as well as introducing them from overseas, and then adapting them to suit the local contexts. While offering degree programs and undertaking research, universities are also involved in activities directly contributing to local communities, such as organizing training programs for working professionals, and engaging in community development projects.

Japan’s ODA has supported educational activities implemented by universities, aimed at developing the human resources that will become the drivers of nation-building. The research and community service functions of universities in developing countries are also deployed in Japan’s various development cooperation projects: agricultural projects that develop and disseminate new plant varieties with partner universities or projects that organize short-term training programs for civil servants and working professionals by mobilizing university resources. These projects are primarily aimed at addressing development issues of specific sectors rather than the capacity development of partner universities. For this reason, few of them are classified as higher education cooperation projects under Japan’s ODA disbursements. However, these projects’ activities also contribute to the development of partner universities’ capacity to conduct research and offer community services. In light of this, this chapter scrutinizes not only projects that are specifically aimed at the development of universities but also projects that designate universities as project counterparts to mobilize their research or community service functions.

While the higher education institutions supported under Japan’s ODA have primarily been universities, some projects have also been implemented to assist polytechnics, junior colleges, and institutes of technology. Therefore, this chapter analyzes projects for these higher education institutions (Level 5 or above under the International Standard Classification of Education (ISCED) set by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO)), in addition to universities.

Based on the definition mentioned above, from the launching of its ODA in 1954 to 2015, JICA and its forerunner organizations disbursed 140 billion yen for 241 technical cooperation projects, 250 billion yen for 282 grant aid projects, and 360 billion yen for 58 ODA loan projects (see Fig. 9.1). The numbers of higher education institutions in developing countries supported through the above aid schemes are approximately 180 institutions under technical cooperation, approximately 170 institutions under grant aid, and about 300 institutions under ODA loans (some institutions are counted in more than one scheme). More than 500 higher education institutions have received Japan’s educational assistance across the world.

Fig. 9.1
figure 1

Trends in JICA’s projects for the development of higher education institutions

Source: Created by the author

Notes: Technical cooperation indicates technical cooperation projects implemented by the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) and its forerunner organizations. Grant aid indicates grant aid projects implemented by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MOFA) or JICA with disbursements of 100 million yen or more. ODA loan indicates ODA loan projects implemented by the Overseas Economic Cooperation Fund (OECF), Japan Bank for International Cooperation (JBIC), or JICA. Some ODA loan projects supporting higher education development covered multiple sectors or subsectors, consisting of various components. Since no detailed breakdown of commitment by component is available for such multi-sectoral projects, the above graph includes the total commitment of each project

2 Historical Trends in Japan’s Cooperation for the Development of Higher Education Institutions

2.1 Beginning of Higher Education Cooperation (the 1960s–the Mid-1970s)

Japan’s ODA commenced in 1954 when it joined the Colombo Plan. The following year, Japan initiated technical cooperation with the dispatch of experts from Japan and visits of trainees from developing countries. In the field of health care, in the early years of ODA, Japan dispatched medical teams consisting of medical doctors and nurses to administer mobile clinics that provided health services in rural areas cut off from access to health services. However, Japan soon realized the importance of engaging in long-term—rather than temporary—cooperation with developing countries, with a growing recognition of the need to establish local hospitals, medical schools, and research institutes.

Subsequently, project-type technical cooperation was launched, targeting medical schools and medical research institutes in universities (Overseas Technical Cooperation Agency, 1973). Thus, Japan’s first ODA project targeting universities in developing countries was carried out in medical schools and associated institutions. In the 1960s and the 1970s, immediately after independence, many developing countries struggled with extremely poor conditions in facilities and a lack of human resources in medical education and research. In health cooperation projects, including the Project for the Faculty of Tropical Medicine of University of Medical Science in Thailand (1965–1971) and the Project for the Oral Surgery Department of Medical Faculty of State University of Padjadjaran in Indonesia (1966–1971), Japanese experts contributed to laying the foundations for medical education by carrying out various activities in the field: developing the medical education curriculum, training lecturers in teaching and research, teaching students, developing teaching hospitals, and examining patients in hospitals. Some projects were committed to research on tropical infectious diseases and parasitic diseases commonly spreading in developing countries.

The implementation of medical education and research cooperation required a stable support system in Japan. In light of this, various medical schools of Japanese universities interested in international cooperation engaged in ODA projects in different countries: Kobe University School of Medicine supported a project in Indonesia, Gifu University School of Medicine in Iran, Fukushima Medical University in Ghana, Nagasaki University School of Medicine in Kenya, and the Faculty of Medicine, Osaka University in Thailand (Tachi, 1976). These Japanese medical schools engaged in medical cooperation as their international contributions. However, at the same time, they were able to seize ample academic opportunities to expand their research agendas and fields in tropical medicine.

The period between the mid-1960s and the mid-1970s was the dawn of university development projects under ODA, the scale of which was still relatively small. Between 1965 and 1974, a mere 17 technical cooperation projects and four grant aid projects were initiated. Approximately 4 billion yen was disbursed over the same period (see Fig. 9.1). Among the 17 technical cooperation projects, 14 were conducted in the field of medicine, while the remaining three projects were carried out in the engineering, agricultural, and maritime sectors. In other words, most technical cooperation projects targeted medical schools (see Fig. 9.2).

Fig. 9.2
figure 2

JICA technical cooperation projects for the development of higher education institutions—Trends in the number of projects by field

Source: Created by the author

Note: As in Fig. 9.1

In regard to Japan’s development cooperation policy, a 1971 report submitted by the External Economic Cooperation Council, an advisory body to the Prime Minister, suggested the further expansion of Japan’s technical cooperation. It proposed (1) medical cooperation and (2) education, academic research, and cultural cooperation as two priority subsectors in the future. In the report, cooperation for medical schools and medical research institutes was classified under (1) medical cooperation, not under (2) education, academic research, and cultural cooperation. In other words, the projects were implemented as medical cooperation, not as educational cooperation (External Economic Cooperation Council, 1971).

2.2 Rapid Expansion of Japan’s ODA and Hitozukuri (Human Resource Development) Cooperation (the Mid-1970s–the 1980s)

From the second half of the 1970s, Japan’s ODA became full-fledged. Japan’s rapid economic growth led to the country becoming a global economic power with the second-highest gross national product (GNP) in the world. Subsequently, there were high expectations from the international community for Japan to increase international contributions that matched its economic might. Between 1978 and 1993, five ODA medium-term targets were set consecutively, leading to a significant increase in Japan’s ODA disbursements. Concurrent with this development, cooperation for higher education institutions was also expanded. Grant aid and ODA loan projects for the development of university facilities, and the provision of associated equipment, increased substantially (see Fig. 9.1).

Grant aid is an ODA program to provide developing countries with grants to invest in developing social infrastructure in specific sectors that are hardly profitable, such as health, education, agriculture, public welfare, and environment. From the mid-1970s to the 1980s, many grant aid projects were implemented to meet the considerable needs of developing countries to establish and expand their universities. Two of the most renowned projects were the Construction Project of the Electronic Engineering Polytechnic Institute in Surabaya in Indonesia (1986) and the Construction Project for the School of Veterinary Medicine of University of Zambia in Zambia (1983–1984). They constructed school buildings on university campuses and provided equipment for teaching, training, and research. Many projects were also carried out to construct teaching hospitals attached to universities (e.g., the Project for the Cairo University Pediatric Hospital Construction in Egypt in 1980 and 1981). Although small in number, some projects developed facilities and equipment to support distance learning universities (e.g., the Construction Project of the Educational Broadcasting Center for Sukhothai Thammathirat Open University in Thailand in 1982). They were implemented in response to the growing needs of developing countries for the expansion of higher education. The number of university development projects supported by grant aid reached 108 (approximately 110 billion yen in total) over the 15 years from 1975 to 1989. Compared to the early years of ODA between 1965 and 1974, disbursements increased about 35-fold.

Around this time, the provision of ODA loans for university development was also initiated. The provision of ODA loans for developing countries began in 1958, primarily to finance large-scale infrastructure development projects in electricity, transport, communications, mining, and manufacturing. However, from the beginning of the 1970s, ODA loans were also disbursed for projects in education, health, and others to promote social development (Japan Bank for International Cooperation, 2003). From 1975 to 1989, ten ODA loan projects were carried out in South Korea and Indonesia for university development. These were colossal projects, with the disbursement of 5–15 billion yen per project. Generally, each project engaged in the development of multiple universities, including facility construction and equipment provision. However, the cost of these ten projects was approximately 75 billion yen in total, accounting for less than 1% of the total ODA loan commitments over the same period. The proportion among all ODA loan projects was insignificant.

Meanwhile, more university development projects were instead being implemented through technical cooperation. While 17 technical cooperation projects started between 1965 and 1974, this number rose to 40 between 1975 and 1989. A notable feature in this period was an increase in the number of projects in engineering and agricultural education (see Fig. 9.2). Among the 40 projects, 13 were related to medical education, 15 to agricultural education, 11 to engineering education, and 2 to maritime education (some are double-counted). The number of projects in engineering and agricultural education increased drastically. In the second half of the 1980s, Japan implemented more engineering and agricultural education projects than medical education projects. The Jomo Kenyatta University College of Agriculture and Technology Project in Kenya (1980–1990) and the King Mongkut’s Institute of Technology Ladkrabang Project in Thailand (1978–1983) were also launched in this period, with both frequently mentioned as being among the most notable higher education cooperation projects.

In the early years of ODA, Japan prioritized the mass training of middle- and low-ranking skilled workers who were working in the field (JICA, 1997a). In other words, the primary focus was not on higher education institutions but on supporting vocational and technical training institutions. However, in the 1980s, human resource development needs gradually shifted to the training of people to acquire advanced technical knowledge, which prompted the governments to establish higher education institutions, including universities. In response, Japan launched more projects targeting the engineering and agricultural departments of universities.

In the 1980s, Japan’s ODA rapidly increased in scale, and, concurrently, human resource development, or hitozukuri (HRD), became a frequently used slogan that reflected the critical theme of Japan’s ODA, together with the phrase, “hitozukuri (HRD) lays the foundation of kunizukuri (nation-building).” In 1981, Prime Minister Zenko Suzuki declared the implementation of the ASEAN Hitozukuri Cooperation Program. In addition to this declaration, numerous other government statements asserted the significance of hitozukuri (HRD) under Japan’s ODA.

Nevertheless, none of the statements referred to the development of universities in developing countries. A written opinion submitted by the External Economic Cooperation Council in 1979 discussed in detail specific targets of hitozukuri (HRD) cooperation and how it should proceed by classifying them into three categories: (1) expansion of in-service training of civil servants through technical cooperation and development of educational and training facilities through grant aid, (2) development of basic education facilities and organization of academic exchanges between universities, and (3) invitation of senior leaders to Japan (External Economic Cooperation Council, 1979). However, it made no mention of the roles to be performed by universities in developing countries for human resource development in their own countries or the necessity of developing such universities. The policy documents and government statements of the 1980s on hitozukuri (HRD) generally discussed the importance of training engineers, technicians, and administrative officers who engaged in development projects, referring to technical cooperation. No special emphasis was given to higher education development.

During this period, Japan’s ODA initiated academic exchange programs between universities as a new endeavor. The Core University Program, started in 1978, was an ODA program administered by the Japan Society for the Promotion of Science (JSPS), a governmental body under the Ministry of Education (MOE). It designated core universities in Japan and partner Asian countries by research field and facilitated academic exchanges between these universities, including researcher exchanges and international joint research (JSPS, 2005). Target research fields were mostly science and technology, such as engineering, natural sciences, agriculture, and medical science.

The launching of the Core University Program was first mentioned in a proposal submitted by the Council for Science in 1977. The proposal suggested that, considering the increasing number of global issues, academic exchanges between Japan and developing countries should be further promoted. Previously, Japan’s academic partners had primarily been other developed countries. It also stated that working in developing countries would lead to the identification of new research topics in various fields, such as tropical medicine, tropical agriculture, and area studies (Council for Science, 1977). In other words, the academic exchanges between Japan and developing countries had significance in terms of international contributions, but at the same time, they provided Japanese universities with new research agendas.

In 1977, JICA initiated a similar research cooperation program. It dispatched Japanese research teams to universities or research institutes in developing countries to undertake joint research, thereby enhancing the research capacity of partner universities and producing new research outcomes (JICA, 1997b). In the second half of the 1970s, both JSPS and JICA launched a series of joint research programs with developing countries. This was partly because Japanese researchers’ academic interest in developing countries was gradually increasing, as stated in the proposal submitted by the Council for Science in 1977.

2.3 Making Basic Education Assistance the Central Focus of Educational Cooperation (the 1990s–the Mid-2000s)

The World Conference on Education for All (WCEFA), held in 1990, strongly advocated the universalization of basic education as a fundamental human right that should be ensured for all and as the foundation of broader socioeconomic development. WCEFA brought about a significant shift in international cooperation in education. Many donor countries reduced their contributions to higher education development throughout the 1990s as the result of increased emphasis on basic education (Task Force on Higher Education and Society, 2000). In response to the changing international trends in educational cooperation, JICA organized the Study Group on Development Assistance for Development and Education in 1992, which presented the following three proposals: (1) to increase the proportion of education assistance in Japan’s total ODA disbursement to about 15%; (2) to place emphasis on basic education, which had mostly been overlooked; and (3) to tailor assistance reflecting the actual stage of each country’s educational development. The third proposal stated the following:

International organizations and donor countries now tend to increase their stress on basic education, shifting their aid rapidly toward it and away from vocational, technical, and higher education. These three areas - basic education, vocational and technical education, and higher education - are the three pillars of education’s development. To maintain a balance among them, the whole picture of education’s status in the recipient country must be taken into account, and aid must be implemented according to the current stage of that country’s educational development (JICA, 1994, p. 40).

The report criticized the radical shift in educational cooperation, from higher education toward basic education, while recognizing the importance of basic education assistance. It advocated assistance for higher education development in consideration of the situation of each developing country. At that time, Japan’s educational cooperation primarily focused on higher education and technical and vocational education and training (TVET). Therefore, rapidly shifting its educational aid toward basic education was not a realistic option for Japan. Furthermore, there was a great need for assistance in the areas of higher education and TVET among Southeast Asian and East Asian countries, which were the largest recipients of Japan’s ODA. Japan’s education cooperation policy was different from many other donor countries, which had withdrawn from higher education cooperation or were drastically reducing their disbursements in the TVET subsector.

In the 1980s, Japan’s ODA rapidly expanded in scale, and in the 1990s, policy documents increasingly paid more attention to the way that ODA was implemented. The focus of the ODA policy shifted from quantitative expansion in the 1980s to quality improvement in the 1990s. After establishing the ODA Charter in 1992, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MOFA) formulated the ODA Medium-Term Policy in 1999, which extensively discussed basic education assistance as a priority subsector of ODA. In contrast, higher education assistance is briefly discussed under the subsection titled Human Resource Development, as follows:

The development of individuals is the base for the development of a country, and one of Japan’s basic aims in providing economic assistance is to support the self-help efforts of recipient countries. As such, Japan places particular emphasis on the continuing development of human resources needed for the social and economic development of developing countries… Japan will give due attention to support for the educational sector, including higher education, and vocational training programs (MOFA, 2002, p. 127).

Unlike the abovementioned report prepared by the Study Group on Development Assistance for Development and Education of JICA, the ODA Medium-Term Policy highlighted Japan’s emphasis on basic education assistance.

The Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science, and Technology (MEXT) organized a series of consultative meetings on international cooperation in education from the second half of the 1990s and published reports on educational cooperation. A consultative meeting report, titled Promoting International Cooperation in Education to Meet Current Needs, declared the importance of expanding basic education assistance, and furthermore, suggested the need for qualitative improvements in higher education assistance, including academic exchanges (MOE, 1996). Similar recommendations were made in the consultative meeting reports of 2000, 2002, and 2006. All these MEXT reports firmly asserted that Japanese universities would benefit from participating in international cooperation in education to promote their internationalization, and therefore, educational cooperation should be promoted to facilitate the internationalization of higher education in Japan (MOE, 1996, 2000; MEXT, 2002, 2006).

This section has reviewed the educational cooperation policies of JICA, MOFA, and MEXT in the 1990s. During this period, the world radically changed its education cooperation policy, placing a higher priority on basic education assistance. Japan’s three abovementioned agencies accordingly revised their cooperation policy to place a new emphasis on basic education assistance, which had rarely been implemented in the past. Concurrently, they announced their continuous assistance for higher education, which was different from the aid policies of most other donors.

Thus, entering the 1990s, higher education cooperation earned a growing recognition in Japan’s ODA policy, with basic education also increasingly gaining attention. Before the 1990s, Japan’s ODA supported numerous projects to develop higher education institutions in developing countries. However, these projects were rarely categorized as higher education development, and therefore Japan had very few extensive discussions on how higher education assistance should be implemented. This situation changed in the 1990s. The increased attention to basic education promoted in-depth discussions on educational cooperation as a whole. The growing attention toward basic education led to increased recognition of higher education assistance as well.

As shown in Fig. 9.1, in both the 1990s and the 2000s, projects to develop higher education institutions received large amounts of ODA. The total amount of technical cooperation, grant aid, and ODA loan projects was 180 billion yen in the 1980s, 210 billion in the 1990s, and 210 billion in the 2000s. The amount slightly increased in the 1990s and the 2000s compared with the 1980s. There was no reduction in higher education assistance after the 1990s, contrary to the general practice of most other donors.

However, examining the outlays by scheme presents a different picture. Technical cooperation received 24 billion yen in the 1980s, 46 billion yen in the 1990s, and 37 billion yen in the 2000s. The disbursements slightly decreased in the 2000s. The disbursements for grant aid show a downward trend for the same period: 92 billion yen in the 1980s, 85 billion yen in the 1990s, and 25 billion yen in the 2000s. The disbursements in the 2000s were almost one-third those of the previous decade. The ODA policy of the 2000s, which emphasized assistance for basic education, resulted in a decrease in disbursements for technical cooperation and grant aid that assisted higher education development. In contrast, 62 billion yen in the 1980s, 83 billion yen in the 1990s, and 148 billion yen in the 2000s were offered as ODA loans. Increases of 1.3 times and 1.8 times were observed in subsequent decades, offsetting the decrease in the disbursements for grant aid and technical cooperation in the 2000s.

ODA loan projects for higher education development began in the 1970s and were still small in number in the 1980s. However, responding to the growing needs of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) member states for human resource development in the 1990s, at the 1995 Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) Osaka Meeting, the Japanese Government officially announced the provision of assistance for such undertakings in Asia. Further, at the Japan-ASEAN Summit Meeting in 1997, the Government stated that preferred terms would be applied to ODA loans designated for human resource development, such as providing scholarships for study in Japan and developing higher education institutions in developing countries (interest rate of 0.75% and a repayment period of 40 years, including a 10-year grace period) (Overseas Economic Cooperation Fund, 1998).

As a result, ODA loan commitments for university development projects increased at a rapid pace. In particular, the amount of ODA loans provided to China in the 2000s for human resource development is worthy of note. Between 2001 and 2006, approximately 100 billion yen was provided as ODA loans for 22 projects to construct and improve school buildings and associated equipment in approximately 200 major universities situated in 22 provinces, municipalities, and autonomous regions in inland China (JICA, 2016). In addition to the development of facilities, 5,000 university lecturers and administrators were invited to Japan to attend short-term training. These ODA loan projects aimed to respond to China’s rapidly growing need for higher education development, accounting for a quarter of ODA loans provided to China in the year 2001, when it hit its peak.

2.4 Diversification of University Development Cooperation Programs Under Higher Education Internationalization (the Mid-2000s)

The international community agreed on the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) in 2000 and the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) in 2015, as common goals to be achieved. The MDG education goal was mainly associated with the promotion of basic education, such as achieving universal primary education and promoting gender equality. On the other hand, the SDGs cover the full spectrum of education from basic education to higher education: achieving free and quality primary and secondary education and early childhood education, promoting adult literacy, and ensuring equal access to higher education, including universities.

This change was the result of the reevaluation of higher education development, which started around 2000. For instance, the Task Force on Higher Education and Society, jointly established by UNESCO and the World Bank, published Higher Education in Developing Countries: Peril and Promise in 2000 (Task Force on Higher Education and Society, 2000). UNESCO also held the World Conferences on Higher Education in 1998 and 2009 (UNESCO, 1998, 2009). Both the conferences and report called for the international community to review the roles and importance of higher education in societies, which had become increasingly knowledge-based and globalized. In a knowledge-based society, socioeconomic development relies on the creation, utilization, and dissemination of knowledge. Therefore, developing countries also increasingly needed the development of human resources capable of creating and utilizing knowledge. Further, the internationalization of higher education intensified global competition for highly competent researchers and students. The reevaluation of higher education development took place under such circumstances.

In those years, the Japanese Government released two educational cooperation policy papers. The first paper was Japan’s Education Cooperation Policy 2011–2015, issued in 2010, and the second was the Learning Strategy for Peace and Growth—Achieving Quality Education through Mutual Learning, released in 2015. They discussed basic education and higher education in a balanced manner, differing from the 1999 ODA Medium-Term Policy. For example, the 2010 Policy identified three priority subsectors, which were (1) improvement of quality in basic education, (2) promotion of higher education and TVET to cope with the needs of today’s knowledge-based society, and (3) provision of educational assistance to countries affected by conflicts and disasters (Government of Japan [GoJ], 2010). Further, the 2015 Policy adopted the following three guiding principles: (1) to achieve inclusive, equitable, and quality learning, centering on basic education; (2) to promote industrial and science and technology human resource development (primarily targeting higher education and TVET); and (3) to establish and expand global and regional networks for educational cooperation (GoJ, 2015). In other words, these two policies placed emphasis on higher education as much as basic education and TVET. They were influenced by the international trends toward the upward revision of higher education assistance, which took place after the year 2000.

Following this revision, JICA started increasing the number of university development projects around 2008, reversing the previous trend. In particular, the number of technical cooperation projects rapidly increased. While 46 projects were launched during the 10 years from 1995 to 2004, the number of projects initiated during the next 10 years from 2005 to 2014 more than doubled, reaching 104. In the 1990s and the 2000s, 20–40 projects were constantly in progress, and, in the 2010s, the number reached more than 50. As for the fields of cooperation, the number of projects assisting engineering education increased substantially after 2005 (Fig. 9.2). As industrial activities became increasingly vibrant in developing countries, the need for human resources in the engineering sector grew rapidly. As for the project activities, research-type technical cooperation projects increased (Fig. 9.3). This increase was associated with the launching of the Science and Technology Research Partnership for Sustainable Development (SATREPS) in 2008, a newly introduced initiative under technical cooperation, in which universities and research institutions in developing countries and Japan conduct joint research. An outline of SATREPS will be provided below.

Fig. 9.3
figure 3

JICA technical cooperation projects for the development of higher education institutions—Trends in the number of projects by project activities

Source: Created by the author

Note: As in Fig. 9.1

In 2008, the Council for Science and Technology Policy, established under the Cabinet Office, introduced a policy concept called “Science and Technology Diplomacy,” in a report titled Towards the Strengthening of Science and Technology Diplomacy. The report proposed that Japan should contribute to resolving global issues by applying its accumulated advanced science and technology, and strengthening the linkage between diplomacy and science and technology (Council for Science and Technology Policy, 2008).

Following this report, SATREPS was initiated. SATREPS is designed to promote international cooperative research between research institutions in Japan and developing countries on global issues, including environment/energy, biological resources, disaster prevention, and infectious diseases. This would lead to the acquisition of knowledge that leads to solving global issues, while further enhancing the research capacity of partner universities and research institutes in developing countries. The distinctive feature of SATREPS projects is the performance of research in areas of cutting-edge science and technology, unlike the past technical cooperation projects. In recent years, universities in developing countries have been making remarkable progress in academic research activities. As a result, the number of universities and research institutions capable of engaging in international research jointly with those in Japan has increased, which has also enabled the implementation of SATREPS projects. In most cases, Japanese researchers are involved in SATREPS projects as a continuation of their own research activities. In the 2010s, approximately 30 SATREPS projects were constantly in progress.

Another distinctive feature of university development projects that began after the mid-2000s is the diversification of project activities. Prior to this time, all university development projects were designed to respond to the needs of a target country for human resource development: to develop higher education institutions such as universities and junior colleges, to promote educational and research activities, and, if necessary, to implement outreach activities within that country. They aimed at developing core universities in target countries. However, after the year 2000, projects of a new type were initiated, designed to facilitate international or regional networking of universities.

One example of this is the ASEAN University Network/Southeast Asia Engineering Education Development Network (AUN/SEED-Net) Project, which started in 2002 (Phase 1, 2003–2008; Phase 2, 2008–2013; Phase 3, 2013–2018; and Phase 4, 2018 onwards). It has established a network of 26 leading universities in the ASEAN region and 14 Japanese universities and has carried out large-scale student exchanges and joint research programs, thereby promoting the quality improvement of engineering education and research in ASEAN countries as a whole. The AFRICA-ai-JAPAN Project (AU/JKUAT/PAUSTI Network Project) (Phase 1, 2014–2020 and Phase 2, 2020–2025) was aimed at assisting one of the five educational research institutes of the Pan African University founded by the African Union. This African regional institute is hosted by the Jomo Kenyatta University of Agriculture and Technology in Nairobi and specializes in basic science, technology, and innovation. It receives international students from 54 African countries for postgraduate degree programs, thereby training human resources with advanced knowledge to contribute to socioeconomic development in their own countries.

Before the year 2000, most projects were entirely designed to focus on higher education development in individual countries and the projects’ scope and activities were limited within the target countries. In contrast, the projects mentioned above were implemented based on the concept of transnational higher education: conducting student exchanges and joint research programs involving multiple universities in a region or establishing regional universities with the involvement of regional communities. These projects are clear proof that the internationalization of higher education has been steadily progressing in developing countries since the beginning of the twenty-first century.

Another new type of cooperation comprised of projects designed to establish internationally codeveloped universities, in which Japan and a partner country jointly establish a university or a graduate school. The Project for Egypt-Japan University of Science and Technology (Phase 1, 2008–2014; Phase 2, 2014–2019; and Phase 3, 2019–2024), the Project for Malaysia-Japan International Institute of Technology (Phase 1, 2013–2018 and Phase 2, 2018–2023), and the Project for the Establishment of the Master Programs of Vietnam-Japan University (Phase 1, 2015–2019 and Phase 2, 2020–2025) have all established a university or a graduate school, named after both countries: the Egypt-Japan University of Science and Technology, the Malaysia-Japan International Institute of Technology, and Vietnam-Japan University. The projects have assisted with the launch of teaching and research activities in these institutions.

In the past, quite a lot of JICA-supported projects established universities or graduate schools and extended long-term and large-scale assistance to help them develop into some of the leading universities in their respective countries, such as Jomo Kenyatta University of Agriculture and Technology in Kenya and King Mongkut’s Institute of Technology Ladkrabang. However, in the previous century, these universities were not named after Japan. Further, Japanese experts engaged mainly in assisting their counterpart lecturers and were rarely involved in university management.

On the other hand, in the new type of projects that began after 2000, multiple Japanese universities have jointly established relatively large consortiums and engaged in project activities, starting from the project inception stage. Japanese experts also actively take part in university management, assuming positions in university executive committees and management, including roles as vice presidents and board members. The continuous launching of new types of university development projects reflects the rapid expansion of transnational higher education worldwide (Knight, 2014, 2015). It prompted both Japan and developing countries to become engaged in these new types of higher education institutions. In addition, the Japanese government presumably expects that the codeveloped university projects will have a positive impact on its diplomatic relations with these countries.

3 Characteristics of Japan’s Cooperation for the Development of Higher Education Institutions in Developing Countries

So far, we have looked at the historical changes in ODA projects to develop higher education institutions. The journey spanning the half-century from the 1960s to the 2010s was filled with many transitions. The following four characteristic features are worthy of mention here.

Firstly, cooperation assistance to develop higher education institutions started in the 1960s, immediately after the launch of ODA, and continued until the 2010s. This was done through medical, agricultural, and industrial cooperation to develop professional human resources in the respective fields of medicine, agriculture, and engineering. Before the 1990s, these endeavors were rarely referred to as educational cooperation. However, when basic education cooperation became the focus of educational development in the 1990s, they began to be recognized as higher education cooperation, in contrast to basic education cooperation. Despite these changes in perception over the years, there has always been a consistent number of cooperation projects to develop higher education institutions overall, forming an important part of Japan’s cooperation in education.

The second characteristic of the historical changes is that, since around 2000, the internationalization of higher education has advanced in both developed and developing countries, leading to significant changes in cooperation to develop higher education institutions. Specifically, cooperation has begun to promote cross-border academic exchanges between universities in regions such as Southeast Asia and Africa, as well as cooperation to establish universities jointly between Japan and partner countries. In addition, the growing interest of Japanese universities in ODA and the increasing number of universities that actively cooperate with ODA projects (see Sect. 9.4) are considered to be a part of the impact of the internationalization of higher education. Today, the internationalization of higher education is further advanced, resulting in the emergence of not only overseas branch campuses but also virtual universities utilizing IT technologies. These new forms of higher education are expected to continue to exert great influence on Japan’s higher education cooperation.

Thirdly, Japan’s cooperation for the development of higher education institutions consisted mostly of support for individual educational institutions such as universities or colleges, but there was almost no cooperation in higher education policies and systems. Japan’s cooperation has been implemented with an emphasis on the development of teachers, facilities, and equipment, particularly for core universities in developing countries. Although there were also many challenges in higher education policy measures and systems that went beyond individual universities in developing countries, Japan has made little effort to address them. On the other hand, in its report on higher education in 1994, the World Bank, as one of the largest donors of higher education cooperation, argued that support for higher education institutions only creates an “academic oasis” (World Bank, 1994). It accordingly prioritized higher education system improvement activities in projects during the 1990s, such as introducing a competitive funding mechanism and developing an accreditation mechanism (Okitsu et al., 2017). Japan’s support for higher education institutions contrasts with the World Bank’s cooperation policy and record of assistance.

The fourth characteristic of Japan’s university development projects is that they often involve long-term cooperation and a combination of technical and financial cooperation, resulting in large-scale support. For example, cooperation with the Institut Pertanian Bogor (IPB University) of Indonesia began with the “Project of the Agricultural Products Processing Pilot Plant” (technical cooperation) in 1977. Six technical cooperation projects (3.6 billion yen in total), a grant aid project (2.3 billion yen), and four ODA loan projects have been implemented thus far, with a SATREPS project also currently in progress. For the cooperation with the University of Ghana in the medical field, six technical cooperation projects (5.6 billion yen in total) have been implemented almost continuously since 1968. Meanwhile, medical facilities have been developed through three grant aid projects (3.4 billion yen in total), while a SATREPS project is also currently in progress.

Out of 175 higher education institutions that Japan has supported through technical cooperation, multiple technical cooperation projects have been implemented in 82 institutions, and four or more technical cooperation projects have been implemented in 25 institutions at different times with different themes. In a total of 75 institutions, or nearly half of the 175 institutions to which technical cooperation has been provided, campus development and the provision of education and research equipment have been carried out through grant aid and/or ODA loans, thus facilitating coordination between technical and financial cooperation. While implementing multiphase projects on a long-term basis in this manner, the education level of the support target shifts from the diploma (college) level to the undergraduate and postgraduate levels. Often, the cooperation evolves into the research and development of advanced technologies. Long-term and large-scale cooperation is frequently supported by specific Japanese universities. In many cases, such support has led to the formation of strong networks among researchers and to interuniversity organizational relationships in Japan and partner countries. Such ODA-derived interuniversity exchanges between Japan and developing countries will be explained subsequently.

4 ODA Participation of Japanese Universities

Japan’s technical cooperation for developing higher education institutions has been implemented with the participation of Japanese university lecturers. Their specialized knowledge in their fields of expertise and university management experience are essential to the successful implementation of university development projects. Their professional knowledge and experience as well as their enthusiasm have helped to underpin success in projects.

Many of JICA’s technical cooperation projects have an advisory committee established in Japan that provides advice on project management and operations. Key members of such committees are lecturers at Japanese universities. In cooperation with these committees, JICA recruits university lecturers as technical cooperation experts. They are dispatched to universities in developing countries where they engage in the improvement of education and research activities: developing academic curriculum and syllabi, training counterpart lecturers on teaching and research, giving advice on university administration and laboratory management, promoting partnerships with industry, and carrying out international joint research. Along with such overseas activities, in Japan, they receive and train lecturers and students from partner universities.

Between 1990 and 2013, approximately 5,000 Japanese university lecturers were dispatched to about 200 universities in developing countries as technical cooperation experts. Of these lecturers, 90% specialized in the fields of engineering, agriculture, and medicine. From the 1990s, with an increase in engineering projects, the number of dispatched engineering lecturers grew substantially. The universities that have dispatched the biggest number of lecturers are Tokyo Institute of Technology, Toyohashi University of Technology, and Kyushu University for engineering projects; Kyushu University, Okayama University, and the University of Tokyo for agricultural projects; and the University of Tokyo, Keio University, and the University of Toyama for medical projects (Kayashima, 2019).

MEXT, which governs higher education, held a series of discussions on the participation of universities in international cooperation from the second half of the 1990s to the beginning of the 2000s. As mentioned in Sect. 9.2.3 of this chapter, consultative meetings on international cooperation in education were held four times (1996–2006). They appealed for the active involvement of Japanese universities in international cooperation and highlighted the following three points. Firstly, Japanese universities possess the capacity to use their accumulated knowledge to provide support for developing countries and have an obligation to do so. Secondly, the participation of universities in international cooperation contributes to enriching their own teaching and research activities and directly leads to their internationalization. Lastly, cooperation activities carried out by individual lecturers should be transformed into those of universities (MEXT, 2002, 2006; MOE, 1996, 2000). In line with the above, five national universities established research centers for educational cooperation in six thematic areas between 1997 and 2002 with the aim of promoting educational cooperation by universities. Afterward, these centers have been functioning as an essential base to promote international cooperation activities in their respective universities and have created an interuniversity network on international cooperation based on thematic areas in Japan.

There are a few factors that have increased the interest of Japanese universities to participate in ODA. The internationalization of higher education has required Japanese universities to increase their international relevance and competitiveness, as well as provide global education to Japanese students. Under such circumstances, Japanese universities felt a strong need for the creation of an international network of universities. This was one reason that prompted universities to participate in ODA (Fujiyama, 2009; Ninomiya, 2000; Ota, 2006). Participation in ODA projects was considered an international activity that was relatively easy and effective for them to take part in. Moreover, participation in ODA projects may lead to international academic exchanges or the acceptance of students from abroad after the completion of ODA projects.

In the past, the Japanese universities’ partners in academic exchange programs were mainly universities in other developed countries, China and South Korea. However, from around the year 2000, they found more and more universities in developing countries capable of engaging in partnerships, which attracted their attention to international cooperation. In 2000, the University Council released a report titled Higher Education in the Era of Globalization, which was the first policy document that thoroughly discussed the internationalization of higher education in Japan. The report proposed that university lecturers should actively participate in international cooperation with developing countries as a means of enhancing the cross-border mobility of students and researchers (University Council, 2000).

The author of this chapter conducted a case study from 2014 to 2017 on the three universities, namely, Tokyo Institute of Technology, Toyohashi University of Technology, and Tokai University, each of which engaged in JICA’s technical cooperation for engineering in higher education. The study aimed at identifying how their engagement with ODA was initiated and what impact their engagement produced (Kayashima, 2016, 2019). The study revealed that the participation in ODA projects brought benefits to both individual lecturers and the universities. The lecturers were given opportunities to participate in international joint research and to receive more students from abroad. Meanwhile, the universities increased their engagement in various international activities, such as establishing their bases overseas, creating joint academic programs, concluding an agreement on academic exchanges, and sending Japanese students abroad, as well as receiving international students from abroad. The study also disclosed that there were cases where the participation in ODA was initiated by a group of lecturers and cases that were initiated by university management, and the reasons for the participation differed between the two. It found that participation in ODA was increasingly being initiated by university management. More and more universities were systematically promoting participation in ODA with an ever-increasing need for the internationalization of universities.

Prior to the 2000s, few university lecturers were interested in international cooperation. Therefore, it was not easy for the staff of aid agencies to identify lecturers who would agree to cooperate on ODA projects. However, with the advancing internationalization of higher education, the number of Japanese universities interested in ODA has increased substantially. Concurrently, globalization and the advancement of a knowledge-based society have also increased the roles of universities in developing countries and amplified the needs of these countries for higher education development. Responding to such needs, Japan should further promote the participation of Japanese university lecturers in ODA, as they will be the key to such cooperation. To this end, the commitment of Japanese universities toward internationalization should be positively utilized to expand and improve Japan’s higher education cooperation. It is also important to implement university development projects in ways that promote the internationalization of Japanese universities.