Appeals regarding the revision of the Development Cooperation Charter (DCC) proposed by 19 NGOs

On September 9, 2022, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MOFA) announced the revision of DCC. Even though it is an important document that is the basic principle of the Japanese Official Development Assistance (ODA), the government has started the revisioning procedure without enough explanation about why it is necessary to revise it, or how civilian opinion will be broadly reflected in it.

Three nongovernmental organizations, Mekong Watch, Friends of the Earth Japan (FoE Japan), and Japan Center for a Sustainable Environment and Society(JACSES)first called for submitting a written request to MOFA to clarify the issues of ODA and points to be reflected in the revision. JVC also agrees to this appeal.


Appeals regarding the revision of the Development Cooperation Charter (DCC)

To: Mr. HAYASHI Yoshimasa, Minister for Foreign Affairs.

September 29, 2022

We, as NGOs working in the fields of environment, development, and human rights, have strong interest in the use of public funds such as Official Development Assistance (ODA). Until now, we have offered various recommendations regarding the implementation of ODA, since we have seen many examples where the projects supported by Japanese public funds have caused human rights violations, environmental destruction or cases where public funds became a financial resource for the military regime of the target country of the assistance.

On September 9, MOFA announced that the government will revise DCC, which articulates the basic policy of Japan’s development cooperation. It already held the first meeting of the Advisory Panel on the revision of DCC on September 16. Although we had pointed out problems regarding the process in a written request titled “Request for the Revision of DCC” dated September 15, the meeting was held without sufficient explanation regarding the orientation and function of the Advisory Panel on the revision, to our deepest regret.

Furthermore, since the schedule of all four meetings of the Advisory Panel has already been set and it is supposed to compile the proposal within two months, which is incredibly short, we herein declare our strong concern, apprehensive that the proposal may be compiled without reflecting sufficient civilian opinion or even sufficient contemplation by the advisory panel members themselves. We sincerely request you consider again the content of our request dated September 15.

Hereto we clarify the problems so far and our requests regarding the revision.

Problematic cases of past ODA projects


Since the coup d’état on February 1, 2021, the Myanmar national military has been escalating its suppression of civilians. The Japanese government provides ODA to various infrastructural projects ranging from telecommunication, transportation, and energy to the development of special economic zones, in hopes it would contribute to Myanmar’s democratization.

However, more than two thousand people were massacred by the brutal actions of the security forces led by the national military, and there are about one million displaced persons due to sweeping operations, with no pathway to return to the democratization process in sight at all. As it stands, it is possible that the infrastructure which Japan provides could be used for national military operations. Above all, it is necessary to examine whether ODA is helping conflicts as a financial resource for the national military, and in Myanmar especially, it is necessary to check if even companies relating to the national military are in the ODA supply chain.

In addition, considering that the coup d’état happened after nine years of Japanese support for democratization, an examination of the efficiency and limitations of Japan’s assistance in contributing to democratization is required. Furthermore, Myanmar receives a large number of investments from Japanese companies, attracted by subsidies from public funding such as ODA. The political disruption in Myanmar has led to losses for Japanese companies. So long as economic profit is considered to be very important in private-public alignment, Myanmar’s case must be examined on the basis of economic risk among politics and human rights.


Severe human rights violations such as extrajudicial killings have been pointed out in the Philippines. In a report submitted to the UN Human Rights Council in 2020, a number of issues were raised such as organized human rights violations, killings, arbitrary detention, and consistent impunity during the government’s clampdown on terrorism and illegal drugs. According to data from the Philippine government, 8,663 citizens were killed by police officers and others from July 2016 to April 2020 in the campaign against illegal drugs. A human rights organization even claimed it was above three times that.

In addition, according to a human rights organization, 427 people were killed in extrajudicial killings and up to 1,161 citizens have been illegally detained under the former Duterte administration from July 2016 to December 2021. The target of the crackdowns included leaders of the indigenous groups and farmers, and human rights and environmental activists who have taken a stand on protecting their lands and environment. They were labeled as terrorists.

Japan cooperates with the Philippines closely in the field of public security, counterterrorism, and security. Therefore, it should be examined if there is any possibility that its economic, technical, and human support to the national military and police of the Philippines has been complicit in such serious human rights violations. Japan also provides support for many large-scale developments such as infrastructure construction that require the involuntary relocation of the inhabitants. The consent and participation of the local community is required in the JICA’s guidelines for environmental and social considerations. However, given the current human rights situation in the Philippines, it may not be guaranteed. It is necessary to examine whether appropriate implementation of the aid is possible.

The following points must be reflected in the new Charter.

  1. Prohibition of military use of ODA
  2. The present Charter sets out that any use of ODA for military purposes or intensifying international conflicts must be avoided. We call for this basic principle to be stipulated explicitly and complied with in the revised Charter. It should also be stipulated that the use of ODA must be avoided intensifying domestic conflicts.

  3. Avoidance of aid to countries and regions where serious violations of human rights are seen

    With the exception of humanitarian aid, we call for preventing assistance in countries and regions where serious human rights violations are seen, since it risks accepting and assisting human rights violations. It should be explicitly written in the Charter that the human rights situation should be confirmed, referring, e.g., to the report issued by the United Nations.

  4. Avoidance of inappropriate acceleration of project formulation

    In the direction of the revision of DCC, we can find an item quoted “Acceleration of project formulation and development cooperation meeting private sector needs”. However, shortening the periods of public accessibility to environmental impact assessments and simplifying other procedures, for example, would narrow the chances of stakeholder participation and block opportunities to hear the opinions of third parties. As a result, it could increase the risk of environmental destruction and human rights violations. This would come at the cost of the private sector that participates in ODA projects in the middle to long range. In any process relating to ODA projects, inappropriate acceleration must be avoided.

  5. Confirmation of compliance with the principles of the Charter

    The confirmation process must be clearly stated in the revised Charter to ensure the principles that aid will not be used for military purposes nor facilitate human rights violations.

  • Mekong Watch
  • Friends of the Earth Japan (FoE Japan)
  • Japan Center for a Sustainable Environment and Society (JACSES)
  • Alternative People’s Linkage in Asia (APLA)
  • AYUS International Buddhist Cooperation Network
  • Asia-Japan Women’s Resource Center (AJWRC)
  • Asia-Pacific Human Rights Information Center (HURIGHTS OSAKA)
  • Asian Health Institute (AHI)
  • Atutu Myanmar in Japan(Atutu Japan)
  • Network for Indonesian Democracy, Japan (NINDJA)
  • Stop the Attacks Campaign (SAC)
  • Federation of Workers’ Union of the Burmese Citizen in Japan (FWUBC–Japan)
  • The Takagi Fund for Citizen Science
  • Earth Tree
  • Japan International Volunteer Center (JVC)
  • Burmese Relief Center–Japan (BRCJ)
  • Japan Tropical Forest Action Network (JATAN)
  • Women’s Democratic Journal (femin)
  • The Education for Development Foundation (EDF-JAPAN)

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