Sunday, June 20, 2010

How to make other countries like you:

Don't give them much money.

The 2009 Index of Global Philanthrophy and Remittances shows that the Japanese government gave US$7.68 billion Official Development Assistance (ODA) - state aid to poorer countries - in 2007. This sounds like big money, but it's only 0.17% of GNI. By comparison the UK managed 0.36%, Ireland 0.55% and Norway 0.95% of GNI. In the OECD, only Greece and the US gave less ODA/GNI than Japan.

The US did, however, give a colossal amount of private aid, more than any other OECD country. Other countries sending large proportion of private aid (as a percentage of GNI) include Netherlands, UK and Ireland. Japan sent very little. Calculating total ODA, private aid and "remittances" (private transfers of money my migrant workers to their home country) as a percentage of GNI, Japan comes right at the bottom of the OECD.

The world responds to this lack of aid... with applause. BBC's 2010 world poll asked 29,000 respondents in 28 countries about their views on various countries. Japan's influence on the world was considered positive by 53% of respondents, the second highest result after Germany. Views on Japan were particularly positive in places like Kenya (68% positive), Nigeria (66% positive) and Philippines (77% positive).

So even though Japan was relatively less philanthropic, it attracted much more positive views than more generous countries.

This is not to say that aid cannot improve a country's popularity, but perhaps it is not a major factor compared with others.


  1. I think they are liking Japan because they do not interfere in anyone's business, be it negatively or positively. People do not like meddlers.

  2. That's it, I think. It might be wise to keep a low profile in international affairs. Japan has, in recent times, become known for its cultural exports (judo, karate, manga, anime, etc.) and high standard of living rather that political power.

    The other popular country in that BBC survey is Germany - another former world power now known more for economic clout than military.


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