Memories of Enemies and Friends in Japanese Development Assistance
Memories of war played a significant role in the conceptualization and initial implementation of development assistance as part of Japanese diplomacy in the 1950s and 1960s. War reparations to Asian neighbors preceded Japanese Official Development Assistance (ODA) and Japanese diplomats explained reparations and - to a lesser degree - ODA as repentance for war crimes. Officials and other invlved parties often coded their interventions of development projects in language of friendship, whereby they expressed a Japanese desire to change the image of Japan from enemy to friend. In the wake of WWII, the vocabulary of enemy and friend had very specific connotations related to recent war experiences in Japan and elsewhere. The invitation of trainees and fellows from developing countries to participate in courses held in donor countries was a central feature of development assistance – in the 1950s and 1960s referred to as technical assistance - within multilateral as well as bilateral programs. Through an analysis of the use of the term ‘friend’ and its derivations in the material about trainee, scholarship, and fellowship programs written over the past fifty years, this paper will explore how the inclusion of these programs in development assistance initiatives reflected Japanese attempts to redefine themselves as friends rather than enemies in the minds of Asian neighbors. Other donors also used friendship vocabulary in relation to their development assistance and I will apply a comparative perspective in order to isolate elements particular to the Japanese case as it was influenced by war memories specific to Japan.