CIAO DATE: 6/00
Civil Society and Official Development Assistance: International Politics, Domestic Structures and the Emergence of International Development NGOs in Japan 1
International Studies Association
41st Annual Convention
Los Angeles, CA
March 14-18, 2000
With comparative cases in North America and Europe as a reference point, this paper examines the recent emergence of international development NGOs (IDNGOs) in Japan and the role of state policies in supporting the growth of international civil society. In contrast to other advanced industrial nations where state-IDNGO cooperation in foreign aid programs developed extensively in the 1960s and 1970s, IDNGOs and NGOs were excluded from Japanese ODA policies until the late 1980s. The paper looks at changes in Japanese state policies vis-à-vis IDNGOs in 1989 and the early 1990s and shows how such changes in turn helped stimulate the creation of new citizen-organized international groups in Japan. To explain this shift in state policy, the paper turns to sociological institutional theories and argues that international norms promoted by international organizations and international actors have played an important role in expanding opportunities for IDNGOs in Japan.
In the 1990s, NGOs of all stripes and sizes emerged as a new force in international politics and in the international relations literature. (Mathew 1997; Boli and Thomas 1999; Boulding 1991; Wapner 1995; Lipshutz 1992 and 1996; Spiro 1995; Ghils, 1992. Simmons 1998) The new representative of "global civil society," NGOs were and continue to be presented in the much of the literature as society rising to challenge the state in some way. Whether as agents of influence in policy change (Wapner 1995; Bichsel 1996; Princen and Finger 1994; Simmons 1998), as self-appointed monitors of state accountability (Clark 1995; Bichsel 1996; Weiss and Gordenker 1996), or as specialized experts that go where states have failed (Ghils 1992; Raustiala 1997; Simmons 1998), NGOs have been consistently painted as autonomous societal actors.
Often lost in this new celebration of NGOs, however, is the role of the state -- both domestically and internationally -- in promoting these new developments. Partly because of its emphasis of NGOs as societal actors that challenge the state, the new literature has unintentionally missed the ways in which the state (and international governmental organizations) have actively supported the NGO "boom" of the 1990s. 2 Rising state and international organization funding for NGOs over the past decade is one way, for example, in which the rise of NGOs has been a state-supported phenomenon and a political process. This two level domestic and international political process has been most pronounced in the field of international development.
Japan provides an interesting case that shows both the importance of state support for the emergence and growth of global civil society as well as the role of international politics in how such state support has been congealing and spreading in the 1990s. Although much smaller and much younger than IDNGOs in other industrialized countries, Japanese IDNGOs experienced a sudden explosion in numbers in the past decade. With this historical pattern as its focus, this paper will show how state-government relations can deeply affect the development of global civil society and the degree to which society is able to go "global." As an initial starting point, domestic structures such as legal institutions and government funding programs for NGOs are important environmental settings provided by the state that determine whether global civil society has a chance of surviving. In Japan, the political environment for IDNGOs was fairly unfavorable until the early 1990s when shifts in government policy led to new support programs for IDNGOs and improved state-IDNGO relations. Part of the "boom" of new organizations in the 1990s in Japan, thus, is a product of these new state-society ties. To understand why these changes came about, however, one must turn to international politics and Japan's changed international position as an economic superpower in the late 1980s and early 1990s. International norms and international pressure on Japan to live up to international standards -- not domestic pressure or domestic politics -- led state officials and politicians to reexamine their ties to society at home. Global civil society in Japan, thus, is in part a product of the process of international socialization of the state.
The definition of IDNGO in this paper follows the general definition used by the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD). IDNGO are national and international nonprofit organizations involved in development aid and or development education. Development aid consists of financial, material, technical or personnel assistance in developing countries. Development education on the other hand involves the promotion of information and education of public opinion in industrialized countries on problems found in developing countries. IDNGOs typically work in the areas of rural development and agriculture, urban development, poverty alleviation, health and sanitation, environmental sustainability and biodiversity, emergency and humanitarian relief, population and family planning, education and child welfare.
The paper is divided into three main sections. The first section looks at empirical data on Japanese IDNGOs and situates their emergence internationally and temporally. The next section seeks to explain why more IDNGOs formed in Japan in the 1990s and shows that changes in state policy -- in particular, the creation of several official funds for IDNGO overseas projects -- have greatly affected the growth of the sector. The third section then examines what brought about this shift in state policies and turns to the international arena. Using sociological institutional theory, it argues that international norms and international pressures led a variety of officials and policymakers to redefine their interests and allow participation in ODA policy and programs to a wider variety of societal actors. The paper then ends with a brief conclusion and wrap-up.
II. The Recent Growth of IDNGOs in Japan
In the past several years, both scholars and policy makers have paid increasing attention to the rising number and growing importance of NGOs in international politics. (Mathew 1997; Boli and Thomas 1999; Boulding 1991; Wapner 1995; Lipshutz 1992 and 1996; Spiro 1995) In the area of international development, however, NGOs based in industrialized countries are not recent inventions and their roots can be found in relief efforts during the twentieth century's major world wars as well as missionary activities in previous centuries. (Sommer 1977; Smith 1990; Bolling 1982, Smillie 1995; Chabbott 1999) Although there has been a dramatic rise in numbers of IDNGOs in all countries in the past three decades (Chabbott 1999), in contrast to this longer previous history, IDNGOs in Japan appear to be a more recent phenomenon.
Using data from several OECD Directories, Graph 1 and Graph 2 chart the number of IDNGOs in several OECD countries in the 1960s, 1980s, and 1990s. It is clear from these graphs that Japan has lagged behind other countries in terms of both per capita and absolute numbers of IDNGOs. (See Graph 1 and Graph 2.) Although the numbers of IDNGOs have been rising over time in all OECD nations since the 1960s, thus, formation and growth of these groups have been a more recent development in Japan.
Source: OECD, NGO Directories for years listed.
Source: OECD, NGO Directories for years listed.
As is also clear from Graph 2, however, the number of IDNGOs in Japan grew substantially in the 1990s. Using more detailed data collected by one of the main NGO umbrella groups in Japan, the Japanese NGO Center for International Cooperation (JANIC), a clearer picture of precisely when this growth took place is possible. Graph 3 charts the establishment years of IDNGOs listed in the 1996 and 1998 JANIC Directories. This chart shows that momentum in group formation started in the 1980s, but the greatest number of IDNGOs in existence today were created in the 1990s (47% of the total) and, in particular, between 1989 and 1994.
III. Explaining Recent Growth in the IDNGO Sector in Japan
State Policies Matter
Although there are various reasons why one might have expected a sudden growth of IDNGOs in Japan in the late 1980s and early 1990s -- value change, increasing levels of wealth, higher levels of globalization and economic internationalization, etc. -- these explanations seem to be incomplete given the fact that such changes were already evident in Japan in the 1970s and 1980s. While these are undoubtedly important factors that deserve consideration, a more decisive and influential reason for the new growth in IDNGOs seems to be changing state policies. In terms of timing, the big "boom" of new IDNGOs in the late 1980s and early 1990s took place precisely when state policies were actively moving towards a new direction of more cooperative relationships with IDNGOs.
Not only in Japan, but state policies in all countries have affected the formation and size of voluntary organizations and IDNGOs in particular. More specifically, state policies in the form of both (1) providing an enabling climate through legal and fiscal arrangements as well as (2) direct support of IDNGOs through funding schemes provide the crucial background context for understanding how these groups emerge and grow. Recent work done by scholars on the nonprofit sector in the United States have shown that both legal structures (Fremont-Smith 1965) and state incentives -- such as favorable tax status, tax deductible contributions, bulk mail rates, and direct subsidies and grants -- have played a great influence in the shape, size and nature of the non-profit sector. (Dobkin-Hall 1999; Fremont-Smith 1965; Salamon 1995 and 1997; Salamon and Anheir 1996; Smith and Lipsky 1993) Many writers on IDNGO have also noted the important role that state support has played for the growth of this sector. From their emergence at the beginning of the twentieth century, IDNGOs have worked together with their governments and have been recipients of government assistance. (Smith 1990; Smillie, 1995; Sommer 1977) In this literature, much of the new growth of IDNGOs in the past 30 years has also been attributed to the increasing amount of state funding available to them since the 1970s. (Chabbott 1999; Smillie 1995, 1999; Hulme and Edwards 1996 and 1997; Edwards 1994; Clark 1991)
Until very recently, the political environment in Japan in these two dimensions was not very conducive to IDNGO formation. Unlike most major industrialized countries where state- IDNGOs relations have been cooperative and actively supportive since the 1960s or earlier, until about 1989 the Japanese state had more arms-length and tense relations with IDNGOs and international voluntary groups. Prior to the late 1980s, state policies and institutions tended in fact to hinder the formation of independent, voluntary groups. Difficulty obtaining legal status and preferential tax treatment, for example, made it very hard to set up a legally recognized organization and collect contributions. 3 (Pekkanen 1999 and 2000; Imata, Leif and Takano 1998; Menju 1995; Schreurs 1996; Yamamoto 1998; Yamakoshi 1994; Miyamoto, 1995) Lack of access to the bureaucratic process and ODA policymaking structure cut groups out of the policy loop, and the general attitude of officials towards IDNGOs was one of condescension and disdain. (Makita 1993; Yonemoto 1994) Finally, also prior to the 1990s, there were few open public funds available for Japanese IDNGO projects overseas.
In contrast to this, state policies in North America and most of Europe were highly supportive of IDNGOs -- from legal structures to tax breaks to subsidy and grant programs. (See Table 1.) Given these contrasts, it is not surprising that IDNGOs had an easier time forming and growing in the West and a more difficult time in Japan.
Table 1. Government NGO Support Programs and Legal Climate for NGOs in Selected OECD Countries
|Country||Year of Establishment of the first Official NGO Funding Program and Sorts of Funding||Legal and Tax Provisions for Non-Profits|
variety of programs including project grants, framework agreement block grants, matching funds, special funds, volunteer programs and development education
| --charitable organizations register at the Post Office
--tax exemptions available but no deductions on contributions
|United States|| 1961
--a wide variety of programs including matching grants, food aid, child survival grants, farmer-to-farmer aid, development education grants, emergency aid funds, outreach grants, transportation costs
| --non-profit legal status easy to obtain and common (registration system)
--which charitable status, tax exemptions and deductions are available
--variety of programs including a co-financing scheme, project funding, "package" grants to umbrella NGOs, emergency assistance and food aid
| --simple registration procedures for nonprofit associations (more complicated for foundations)
--some tax deductions available for groups with charitable aims
--a variety of programs such as matching grants, food aid, emergency aid, bilateral program projects, and development education grants
| --non-profit and voluntary legal status easy to obtain (registration system)
--tax exemptions and deductions available
-- variety of programs including a joint funding scheme (matching grants), volunteer funds, emergency and refugee aid and food aid
| --legal status as a charity
--certain tax exemptions and deductions permitted
| 1989, 1990s
--three new grant and subsidy programs administered by MOFA, EA, MTP, and local government
| --since 1998, non-profit status through a registration system; before 1998, "public interest corporation" (koeki hojin) legal status through bureaucratic approval
--from 1988 small tax breaks for public interest corporations promoting international understanding; no tax breaks for non-profits on contributions
Sources: Smillie and Helmich (1993), Salamon (1997) and Harris (1999). Various chapters.
Changing State Policies towards IDNGOs in Japan in the early 1990s.
Starting in 1989 and the early 1990s, however, Japanese state policies towards IDNGOs started to change. The most significant policy shift was the creation in several ministries and agencies by the early 1990s of funding schemes for IDNGO projects in developing countries. Although the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MOFA) had provided funds to a small group of IDNGOs prior to 1989, these groups were very few in number and had the state stamp of approval in the form of public interest corporation (koeki hojin) legal status. 4 In contrast, the new NGO funding programs set up in 1989 and the early 1990s were open systems that funded not only groups with legal status but the large majority of IDNGOs with no legal status. (See Table 2.) Below is a brief description of each funding program as well as changes in state-IDNGOs relations that have accompanied these programs.
Table 2. Japanese Government NGO Support Programs
|NGO Subsidies (MOFA)||280||340||440||540||760||1000||1200||1150|
|Grassroots Grants (MOFA)||500||700||1000||1500||3000||4500||5000||5700|
|Fund for Global Environ. (JEC)||405||630||650||670||726||733|
MOFA programs. The first two support programs for IDNGOs were set up in 1989 at MOFA: the NGO Project Subsidy scheme and the Grant Assistance for Grassroots Projects scheme. 5 Available only to Japanese INGOs and administered in Tokyo, the NGO Project Subsidy scheme provides small grants for development projects in eleven development areas. Grants are relatively small, ranging from ¥.5-15 million (approximately $4,000- 125,000 at 1997 rates) and cover up to half of the total project costs. To better administer this program and to "support" the development of IDNGOs in Japan, a new division called the Non-Governmental Organizations Assistance Division was created in 1994 within MOFA. The Grassroots Grants scheme, on the other hand, is administered by Japanese Embassies overseas and provides up to $100,000 in support to development projects in developing countries run by NGOs, national institutes and local LDC governments. 6
The Environment Agency and the Japan Environment Corporations Japan Fund for Global Environment. Set up in May 1993 as a semi-public, semi-private fund within the quasi-governmental Japan Environmental Corporation (JEC), the Japan Fund for Global Environment (JFGE) provides small grants to Japanese and non-Japanese NGOs working on environmental and environment-related development projects in both Japan and overseas. 7 The number of projects and groups with JFGE funding has increased over the years from 104 projects in 1993 to 187 projects in 1996 to 195 projects in 1998, more than half of which involved environment-related Japanese IDNGOs working abroad. Like POSIVA grants (see below), they are fairly small in amount, averaging several million yen. Another component of the JFGE program is an NGO support program whose stated goal is to build up the environmental NGO sector in Japan.
Ministry of Post and Telecommunications: the Governmental Organizes IDNGO Philanthropy. In 1991, the Ministry of Post and Telecommunications (MPT) created Postal Savings for International Volunteer Activities (POSIVA), a postal savings account that allocates 20% of an accounts interest to a fund that supports IDNGO development projects in developing countries. Unlike the MOFA schemes, which are part of the ODA budget, therefore, POSIVA is in effect government-organized charity fund-raising for IDNGOs. 8 Less restrictive and easier to use than MOFA subsidies, POSIVA has been a more popular source of funding for NGOs and the number of groups receiving POSIVA grants has increased from 103 groups in 1991 to 235 in 1995 and stabilized to around 210 groups since then. Grants range from ¥500,000 to ¥20 million yen, with most being several million yen. MPT also actively promotes its savings accounts and the activities of Japanese IDNGOs are thus now advertised in post offices throughout Japan. Since Japanese IDNGOs are small and often lack resources and public relations skills, POSIVA has provided a unique opportunity for IDNGOs to use government networks to raise public awareness in Japan about their activities.
Other new programs. In the same time period, there were also much smaller programs for IDNGOs (training programs, joint study missions, small project grants) set up at the Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries, the Ministry of Health and Welfare, the Ministry of Construction as well as by local governments (coordinated to by the Ministry of Home Affairs). (MOFA, 1996b) In addition to these older programs, two other new forms of NGO project funding have appeared in the past year. First, MOFA budgeted 500 million yen in fiscal year 2000 for NGO emergency relief activities as part of emergency grant aid and provided funds for earthquake relief efforts in Turkey and Taiwan. Secondly, in 1999 JICA launched the Development Partnership Program, a contract-style project funding scheme that pays NGOs, universities and other nonprofit organizations to implement JICA technical assistance projects. In its first year, the Development Partnership Program has a budget of 196 million yen and is funding 8 projects.
Better IDNGO access to the ODA policy process. Beyond the financial support these programs have given IDNGOs, their creation and expansion has also contributed to the gradual transformation of state-IDNGO relations from one of mutual mistrust to one of engagement. In contrast to the past, when they were ignored by officials, IDNGOs are now legitimate players in the policy debate and have gained institutionalized access to bureaucrats. Starting in 1996, for example, a quarterly meeting for MOFA and IDNGOs representatives was established. This new regular, institutionalized access to government officials was an outcome of the increasing contact between MOFA and IDNGOs brought about by the new NGO subsidy and grant programs and has provided IDNGOs with a chance to voice their concerns about ODA policy. In the area of population and AIDS, MOFA also set up an NGO study group (kondankai) in 1994 as a government-NGO dialogue on development policy in these areas. Through this kondankai NGOs have been able to make suggestions and participate in ODA project formulation. 9 IDNGO representatives also started to be included in advisory councils and gain input into the larger policy-making process. In 1997-98, for example, the MOFA-appointed Council on ODA Reforms for the 21rst Century included an NGO and the formulation of its final report included formal input by the NGO community. (Kokoro, October 1997; Chikyu Shimin, January/February 1998) As these new opportunities for political engagement with the state have opened up for IDNGOs, the general environment has become far more favorable for forming a group and for IDNGO growth.
New Tax Breaks. Finally, a shift in tax policies also took place in 1988, with the amendment of the tax code to include organizations promoting international understanding. While many groups would still not benefit from this change since such new tax breaks on contributions would be available only to organizations with koeki hojin legal status, this official recognition of the importance of promoting international activities was an important symbolic shift and provided an incentive for foundations to give grants for international-related programs and groups.
New Funds and the Growth of the IDNGO Sector in Japan
Although the total funding amount of these programs is modest relative to other OECD nations, these new financial resources have made a big difference to groups and individuals interested in international development. Compared to the past, when it was very difficult for groups without legal status to raise money, there are now several potential sources of funding.
Expanding government aid to IDNGOs has coincided with the growth in number of these groups. Even if it was not the direct reason for groups to form, the availability of funds has allowed groups to operate and survive. Looking at the total number of NGO projects and IDNGOs that are being funded by the new government funds in Table 3 and Table 4 below, for example, it is clear that a relatively large number of IDNGO projects and groups have been funded through the government. Many of the existing IDNGOs today have materially benefited from this shift in government policies. Based on information provided in the JANIC directories, at least forty-eight percent of the IDNGOs in Graph 3 had one or more form of official funding in the mid-1990s. 10
Table 3. IDNGO Projects Financed with Official Funds
|NGO Subsidies (MOFA)||47||53||75||92||137||214||252|
|Grassroots Grants (MOFA)*|| 2
|Fund for Global Environ. (JEC)||104||157||164||187||193|
|TOTAL projects*|| 199
Source: Various government pamphlets, reports and internal documents.
Table 4. Total number of Japanese IDNGOs with State-Funded Projects
|NGO Subsidies (MOFA)||24||30||31||49||84||132||126|
|Grassroots Grants (MOFA)||2||2||3||4||13||25||29|
|Fund for Global Environ. (JEC)||101||148||146||166||171|
|TOTAL number of groups||129||218||322||398||478||546||535|
Source: Various government pamphlets, annual reports and internal documents.
Note: The total number of groups in the last row is only an indicator figure that provides evidence for an increasing number of IDNGOs that receive state-related funding. It is not an accurate number of the total number of groups since some IDNGOs have received funds from more than one program and are thus counted more than once.
What helps explain the creation of these new programs and this sudden change in the government's attitude towards IDNGOs? These shifts in state policy are puzzling ones for two reasons. First, they appeared rather abruptly in the early 1990s and were not in response to domestic demands. Although a few "insider" IDNGOs were pushing for more government funding from MOFA, for example, there was no consensus or mobilized action by IDNGOs and many IDNGOs were, if anything, suspicious of government cooptation. 11 (Kokoro 1989) Secondly, the new programs were somewhat incomplete and brought about contradictions in state policies. Legal problems and lack of fiscal incentives continued to remain a major issue for IDNGOs in the 1990s and the state was still quite restrictive compared to other OECD countries in this area. The new NGO grants, however, have been mainly given to IDNGOs with no legal status -- the very same groups that the government seems to be attempting to discourage or restrict!
To best understand the changes that have occurred in government-IDNGO relations in Japan in the 1990s, one must turn to the international arena and international norms. Without a push from the outside, the idea of including and forming partnerships with tiny citizen-organized IDNGOs may not have occurred in the way that it precisely did. In particular, rising international interest in the role of IDNGOs and in "participatory development" which led to stronger state-IDNGO cooperation in other industrialized countries put pressure on Japan to reexamine its own relationship to society and somehow show that Japan too had an active IDNGO sector. Although Japanese bureaucrats were suspicious and wary of many IDNGOs, international criticisms of Japanese ODA forced them to reconsider the importance of IDNGOs both in terms of living up to an international standard and in terms of getting public support for ODA.International Norms and Pressure as a Source of Policy Change
In recent years, an increasing number of international relations scholars have focused on international norms and the ways in which international structures and ideas influence how states define their interest. (Florini 1996; Finnemore and Sikkink 1998; Finnemore 1996a and 1996b; Katzenstein 1996; Nadelmann 1990; Price 1998) Constructivists and sociological institutionalists, for example, have focused on the models and socializing role of international institutions in spreading rationalistic culture and organizations to all of their member states. (Eyre and Suchmann 1996; Finnemore 1996a and 1996b; McNeely 1995; Meyer, Boli. Thomas and Ramirez 1997) According to this explanation, international institutions and actors are independent mediums through which new ideas and norms are diffused on a global scale. (Finnemore 1996a; McNeely 1995) New norms are introduced by norm entrepreneurs, are gradually institutionalized in the international system in law and programs of international organizations, and then diffused to member states desiring to show that they are conforming to international standards (and thereby good members of international society). (Finnemore and Sikkink 1998) With the increasing globalization of economies, norms have had new opportunities to spread not only through international organizations such as the UN, but also through increasing transnational contacts between governments. As Anne-Marie Slaughter has argued, transgovernmentalism a dense web of transnational governmental networks that deal with the nitty gritty details of policy coordination is another growing source of policy cooperation and sharing of ideas and norms among countries. (Slaughter 1997)
This process of socialization of international norms is possible because states feel a necessity to be validated as a full member of international society. (Finnemore and Sikkink 1998) This works in several ways. At the most basic level, by following international norms and standards, states gain legitimacy in the international arena as members of international society and receive the "seal of international approval" by international organizations. (Claude 1966; Finnemore and Sikkink 1998) Secondly, as more states adopt the norm, peer pressure to join and be part of the club can compel states to conform (or at least make the appearance of conforming) to international practices and standards for behavior. (Ramirez, Soysal and Shanahan 1997) Thirdly, obtaining this international legitimation can also prove important to a states domestic audience and constituencies. In an era of increasing awareness by domestic actors of alternatives and norms promoted at the international level, states may feel the need to change policies to be more in line with international standards in order to gain legitimacy at home. (Finnemore and Sikkink 1998) Finally, states are also motivated by esteem concerns and sometimes choose to follow norms so that they will look good in the eyes of other states and feel pride or self-esteem. (Finnemore and Sikkink 1998)
In the past several years, a few scholars of Japan have also started to analyze how international norms promoted by international actors have affected both Japanese state policy and state-society relations. (Gurowitz 1999; Miyaoka 1998; Schreurs 1997) In her study on how immigrants rights found in UN conventions and international law were slowly incorporated into Japanese domestic policies, for example, Amy Gurowitz has argued that international norms provided NGOs and other societal actors with a source of legitimacy previously denied to them. (Gurowitz 1999) In the area of environmental policy, Miranda Schreurs has looked at how heightened international attention on environmental issues in the 1990s led to shifts in Japans global environmental policies and the states general attitude towards environmental NGOs in Japan. (Schreurs 1997) As both Gurowitz and Schreurs emphasize in their studies, Japans rise as an economic superpower in the 1980s has put pressure on Japan to prove its worth as a member of international society and to show that it also follows international norms. This new opening to international norms, in turn, has provided NGOs and other societal actors in Japan with greater legitimacy and a new source of access to the policymaking process. (Gurowitz 1999; Schreurs 1997)
A similar dynamic of norm diffusion has occurred in the field of international development and accounts for much of the shift in the early 1990s towards a more cooperative state attitude towards IDNGOs in Japan. This has been a two step but interactive and ongoing process. First, at the international level of bilateral and multilateral aid organizations, the creation of a paradigm of IDNGOs and NGOs as manifestations of people participation in development started in the 1980s and blossomed fully in the 1990s. (Dichter 1999) Secondly, as this new international norm spread throughout various international organizations, state officials in Japan increasingly saw it in their interests for both international and domestic purposes to promote more "citizen" level ODA activities. After tracing the rise of IDNGOs and NGOs in international discourse, I will then show how this new international context influenced the creation of the new NGO support programs of the early 1990s in Japan.NGOs and the Rise of New Norms in International Development Discourse in the 1980s and 1990s
The decade of the 1980s brought development NGOs into the center of discourse, policy and programming of national and international development institutions and aid agencies.
-- Tandon 1994
The emergence of a new appreciation of IDNGOs and NGOs in international development started in the 1980s at both the individual country level in bilateral aid programs and at the multilateral level in international organizations in program and policy inclusion. This new interest in IDNGOs and NGOs picked up even greater normative weight in the 1990s with the end of the Cold War and the promotion of "civil society" supported development. In the 1990s, IDNGOs and NGOs became the "service delivery agents of choice" (Chabbott 1999: 242) and a prime indicator of people participatory ODA.
At the bilateral level, although most OECD nations started to incorporate IDNGOs into their aid programs in the 1960s and early 1970s (Brown and Korten 1991; Smillie and Helmich 1993), a clear shift towards more active state cooperation with NGOs started in the 1980s when state funding and subsidizing of overseas projects done by IDNGOs and NGOs increased dramatically. (Smillie 1999) Between the mid 1970s and the mid 1980s, OECD nations and multilateral institutions increased their support to IDNGOs tenfold, bringing about changes to groups who until that time had relied largely on private donations and funds. (Clark 1991; Dichter 1999; Therien 1991; Hellinger 1987; van der Heijden, 1987) The percentage of total IDNGO funds which came from official sources went up from 1.5 percent in 1970 to 7 percent in 1974, 26 percent in 1976, 33 percent in 1982 and 37 percent in 1986. (Clark 1991; Therien 1991) In addition to matching grants and other official support programs to support IDNGO projects overseas, huge amounts of ODA for disaster and humanitarian aid started to go through IDNGOs in the 1980s. (Smillie 1995)
With this new funding came a new normative rationale for the necessity of supporting NGOs. During the 1980s, numerous aid agencies commissioned studies on the role of IDNGOs and NGOs in international development (Brown and Korten 1991; Korten 1991; OECD 1988, Schneider 1988) and these evaluations all pointed to the comparative advantages of having NGOs implement projects. From them and from an increasing number of works written about IDNGOs and NGOs, a "standard line" on the desirability of including IDNGOs and NGOs in ODA entered international discourse. 12
These trends were taken to an even higher level in the 1990s with the end of the Cold War and the spread of democracy in former socialist states when official interest in IDNGOs and NGOs blossomed into the even more normatively charged rhetoric of "people participation" and "civil society." Dubbed by some critics as the "New Policy Agenda" (Edwards 1994; Hulme and Edwards 1997), IDNGOs and NGOs were now seen as providing ideal institutions for both neoliberal economics and democratic theory being promoted by the democratic industrialized world. On the one hand, IDNGOs, as service providers that reached the poor, provided an antidote to market and government failure; on the other hand, as organizations with connections to and roots in local populations, IDNGOs and NGOs were also seen as vehicles for democratization and components of a thriving "civil society." (Hulme and Edwards 1997; Smillie 1995) This renaissance of interest in civil society (Bernard, Helmich and Lehning 1998; Van Rooy 1999) by both bilateral and multilateral aid agencies resulted in a new surge of funding for all sorts of NGOs as well as a new normative glorification of them as agents of democracy. 13
Just as these new state-IDNGO relations were appearing within OECD countries, NGOs were also coming of age in international institutions and organizations. Starting in the 1980s in organizations like the World Bank and then expanding in the 1990s to a whole array of UN organizations, IDNGOs have become "partners" with and recipients of official funds from numerous multilateral institutions. (Hudock 1999) At the World Bank, more publicized NGO programs and policy dialogues were set up in the 1980s (Beckman 1991; Smillie 1999b) which were followed in the 1990s by a proliferation of NGO related initiatives that transformed the Bank into a more active promoter of NGOs. This included new grant programs for local NGOs, the promotion of NGOs in Bank dealings with lender country governments, and further reinforcement of the idea of IDNGOs and NGOs as "participatory" and "civil society" actors in its various publications. (Alger 1994; Landell-Mills and Serageldin 1991; World Bank 1991, 1992, 1996 and 1997) In addition to the World Bank, interest in "partnering" with IDNGOs and NGOs gathered steam in the mid to late 1980s at numerous UN organizations involved in development issues. 14 A simple listing of the various new programs started by several UN agencies illustrates the ubiquity of the trend toward embracing development NGOs at the UN. (See Table 5.) These new partnership programs and the rhetoric of NGO "participatory development" at these institutions both reflected and reinforced the normative discourse found at the bilateral level.Table 5. Development NGO-related Programs and Initiatives at UN Agencies, 1980s and 1990s
|Name of Program or Initiative||Lead Organization(s)|
|Peoples Participation Program (PPP) (1980)||Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO)|
|Extended Cooperation Program (ECP) (1987)||International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD)|
|Partners in Development Program (PDP) (1988)||UN Development Program (UNDP)|
|Partnership in Action (PARinAC) (1993)||UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR)|
|NGO Fund (Eastern Europe) (1997)||UNHCR|
|Civil Society Organizations and Participation Program (CSOPP) (1990s)||UNDP|
|Inter-Agency Learning Group on Participation (1995)||UNDP, World Bank, UNIFEM, GEF, UNICEF, bilateral donor agencies, private foundations, NGOs|
|Popular Coalition to Eradicate Hunger and Poverty (1995)||IFAD, FAO, WFP, World Bank, European Commission, NGOs|
Source: Various internet web pages for the various Agencies.
Finally, paralleling the rising interest in IDNGOs of its member nations, the OECD also began to show more active interest in including IDNGOs and NGOs in ODA policies in the 1980s. The OECD's Development Assistance Committee (DAC) -- a sub-group which collects information and monitors member nations' ODA policies -- began collaborative efforts with IDNGOs in 1986 and 1988 (OECD 1988) and started a series of publications on NGOs in international development. (Helmich 1998; Smillie and Helmich 1993, 1998 and 1999; OECD 1990, 1992, 1993, 1994, 1996, 1997, 1998) NGOs were increasingly mentioned in DAC annual reports as "partners in the development field" (DAC 1989) and with the adoption of "participatory development" as the official new emphasis of international development for the 1990s (DAC 1989 and 1990), IDNGOS and NGOs became part of a new normative framework that would be institutionalized in member state's ODA policies through DAC initiatives and follow-ups. In 1992 and 1993, DAC adopted a policy statement and "orientations" on participatory development and good governance that emphasized the role of NGOs. (Chang, Fell and Laird 1999; DAC 1992b and 1995; DAC Expert Group on Aid Evaluation 1997) These orientations were meant to be incorporated by DAC member nations in their ODA policies, and subsequent DAC reviews took them into account when evaluating ODA policies of each country -- the orientations were, in effect, a way through which the norm of including NGOs in development was institutionalized, internationally promoted and monitored for compliance.International Norms and Changing State Policies in Japan
When the government introduced NGO support schemes in 1989, it did so not out of genuine appreciation of the role NGOs could play, but out of compulsion to catch up with the practice of other donor countries. The typical perception of NGOs held not only by bureaucrats but by the public in general was non-conformists or deviants, if not antagonists.
-- Watanabe 1995
Since 1989 the United States has been eclipsed by the Japanese as the largest donor of concessional foreign aid. Japan is not generally considered as much of an associational society as the United States, and the history of its NGOs in international work is very limited in comparison to US NGOs. Nonetheless, in Japan, the rhetoric regarding the important role of development INGOs and NGOs has, if anything, escalated in the last eight years.
-- Chabbott 1999
This international context provides the crucial background for understanding why state officials created new NGO grant programs in 1989 and the early 1990s and began to reexamine its relations with IDNGOs. Two important factors in particular stand out and combine to provide a logical explanation for why a shift in state policies took place. First, because Japan was an outlier among industrialized nations in the 1980s-- it was the only OECD country that did not have a visible NGO component in its ODA policy and its IDNGOs were much smaller in number and size than IDNGOs from other industrialized countries -- it was under pressure to make changes that would somehow bring it in line with international practices and standards. Secondly, in the mid to late 1980s Japan became an economic superpower and was under an international spotlight. International criticisms of its so-called self-serving policies and rising expectations of global leadership put Japan under pressure to prove that it was making contributions to international society. These two factors converged temporally to produce an external "push" towards greater state-IDNGO cooperation. Although the state was the first to respond to this dual international dynamic promoting IDNGOS, over time the external pressures have been more consciously exploited and used by IDNGOs themselves.
A closer examination of the origins of the three main funding schemes for IDNGOs reveals the importance of international norms and the international context. Several studies have mentioned this connection in passing (Beaudry-Somcynsky and Cook 1999; Menju 1995; Watanabe 1995), and this paper will try to more specifically pinpoint exactly how international ideas and pressures worked their way into government policies.
In the case of the two MOFA schemes, it is clear from its annual ODA reports that MOFA was aware of the rising interest in IDNGOs in the 1980s and felt a certain degree of pressure to "catch up" with the West in setting up more open NGO subsidy and grant systems. MOFA started to express interest in including NGOs in ODA programs precisely when the OECD and aid agencies in OECD countries were looking to NGOs as a more democratic and locally effective way of providing aid. (MOFA 1987, 1988 and 1989) In the 1988 Japans ODA report, the need to adopt a program similar to ones found in OECD countries was clearly stated:
"In the U.S. and in European countries, co-financing systems by which ODA funds are extended to small-size development projects implemented by NGOs constitute Governments most basic support measures for NGOs. It is generally recognized that support for NGOs with ODA funds is a useful way of taking advantage of their characteristics and promoting effective development assistance. Though there is great expectation for the introduction of such a system, it is necessary to carefully study the experiences of Western countries in this regard." (MOFA 1988)
While this reference was mainly to the provision of funds to Japanese IDNGOs and reflected the behind the scenes planning of the NGO Projects Subsidies scheme, MOFAs Grassroots Grants Program was also established in part due to the influence of international models (APIC 1985) and "the fact that other donor countries receive major foreign policy benefits from their schemes." 15 (MOFA 1989)
The other major inspiration for the MOFA funds was growing international and domestic criticisms that Japanese ODA was overly commercial and not open. As Alan Rix and Susan Pharr have noted in separate studies, Japan's rise as an economic and ODA superpower in the 1980s brought about with it increasing attention and criticism on how ODA was being implemented. 16 (Rix 1993; Pharr 1994) With this background of rising criticism in mind, an advisory council was set up in 1987 by then Prime Minister Yasuhiro Nakasone to look at ways of improving ODA policies. The final report of the council included a recommendation for funding IDNGO overseas projects. The eventual decision to create the NGO subsidy program, thus, was also motivated by the public relations desire to show that Japan was improving its ODA in terms of "public participation." IDNGOs were the appropriate and internationally certified means to fulfill this goal.
In the case of the Japan Fund for the Global Environment (JFGE), international UN politics -- in particular, the UN Conference on the Environment and Development (UNCED) -- and Japan's desire to show global leadership played major roles in bringing about the idea to set up the Fund. In the period leading up to UNCED in 1992, then Prime Minister Takeshita's underwent a sudden "green" conversion in his foreign policy which led to reversals in Japan's previous global environmental policies as well as the creation of several global environmental initiatives aimed at proving Japan's commitment and global leadership in the area of the environment. (Schreurs 1996) The JFGE was one of these initiatives and the idea to set up the Fund came out of discussions that Takeshita had with UNCED Secretary General Maurice Strong during preparations for the international conference. (JANIC, Kokoro 1993) Once this internationally inspired idea was formed, it was passed on to the Environment Agency which invited eight Japanese NGOs to provide input and suggestions. (JANIC, Kokoro 1993) Considering the fact that Takeshita was a conservative politician who felt no great love for NGOs in Japan, the JFGE is a fund whose creation clearly shows how international politics in this case, the desire to show global leadership and present an initiative that would have meaning in the international context of UNCED can override domestic norms and create new opportunities for domestic civil society.
The origins of MPT's POSIVA are less directly related to international organizations and events than the MOFA programs and the JFGE, but they too were nonetheless rooted in a similar desire to prove that Japan was committed to contributing to international society and following international norms. At the start, MPT was interested in a new catch idea for postal savings in the 1990s that would revitalize consumer interest in postal savings accounts. In 1989, MPT set up an outside advisory study group composed mainly of university professors to draft recommendations for a "Vision of Postal Savings in the 1990s." (Nishida interview 1997) In the 1990 report of the same name, the study group recommended using an "international volunteer" postal savings account as a way to raise interest in international society and "participation consciousness." (MPT no date) The postal system, the report argued, would be an ideal way to reach citizens with its 24,000 post offices extending into both urban areas and the rural hinterlands. The fact that MPT chose NGOs as the channel through which Japanese citizens could contribute to international society is interesting since most MPT officials had probably never heard of NGOs in 1989. The choice reflects the perceived need by many in Japan in the late 1980s felt by the study group who made the recommendations that Japan more actively show its leadership and engagement in the world.
Beyond the creation of these programs, international norms and pressures have continued to play a role in pushing state officials to "cooperate" with and support IDNGOs and NGOs. The decision in 1988 to amend the tax code to include some tax benefits to public interest corporations involved in promoting international understanding, for example, has been interpreted as an attempt to meet growing demands from abroad that Japan contribute more to global society. (Frost and Frost 1999) Throughout the 1990s, MOFA's rhetorical promotion of IDNGOs as part of Japanese ODA increased and reflected the new glorification of "civil society" in international circles. Japanese IDNGOs in the 1990s were now presented in MOFA publications as manifestations of "people cooperation" (MOFA 1993), "broader-based people participation" in ODA policy (MOFA 1994) and "visible Japanese aid" (MOFA 1996). DAC's active promotion of participatory development and good governance also provided a very specific and institutionalized element of outside pressure since it started to monitor ODA policies in member countries to see the degree to which the new democractic elements were actually being promoted. DAC reviews of Japanese ODA in the 1990s pointed to the need for more and better support of NGOs and this also provided the external pressure for expanding and improving state NGO funding programs. In its 1995 annual review of Japanese ODA programs, DAC reviewers recommended that NGOs be used more extensively and that steps be taken to provide a better legal status for Japanese IDNGOs (DAC 1996; Kyodo News 1995) and the most recent DAC peer review of Japan also recommended increased NGO support and involvement in ODA programs and policies. 17 (DAC 1999) Pressure from international organizations to live up to an international standard, thus, have had and continue to have an influence on state-society relations in Japan. These international debates were also mentioned and used in ODA reform reports issued by domestic governmental agencies and policy study groups which all recommended a larger role for NGOs in ODA policy. (EPA 1991, 1997; Nijuichi seiki 1998; Sangiin chosakai 1998)
Although the rise of NGOs in the 1990s has been generally portrayed as the result of the decline of the state and revolutionary technological advancements in telecommunications and information, state-society relations are in fact far more complex. Far from being a purely autonomous process in which society emerges and organizes itself against the state, the NGO boom of the 1990s has involved active state support and encouragement at both the national and international level. This is most clearly the case in the area of international development, an area in which the more public embracing and vocal promotion of NGOs by bilateral aid agencies and international organizations in the 1980s and 1990s, by providing NGOs new resources and a normatively defined role in development, helped spur on the emergence and growth of the IDNGO sector.
As the case of Japan has shown, this was and continues to be both a national and an international process. At the domestic level, state policies in all nations shape a political environment in which IDNGOs either blossom or never see the light of day. As was true for Europe and North America in the 1970s and 1980s (Chabbott 1999: 242, 247; Smillie 1995), a rise in the Japanese state's interest and support of IDNGOs in the late 1980s and 1990s was followed by a rise in new foundings of IDNGOs. To understand where this new interest in civil society came from, however, one must move to the international politics level where the new normative discourse and international "standards" for participatory development provided state officials in Japan with incentives to cooperate more actively with IDNGOs.
Finally, as this paper has tried to show, such policy shifts can be conceptualized as an ongoing process of socialization in international norms and practices. Seeking to gain validation as a full member of international society and eager to prove that it lives up to international standards, Japan started to reexamine its relations to society. Although there are certainly limits to the degree to which international norms will override domestic ones, the changing international context in the late 1980s and 1990s provided new opportunities for citizen groups in Japan -- and worldwide -- to gain greater legitimacy and attention. With the passage of time, the inclusion of IDNGOs and NGOs in Japanese ODA and foreign policy has become more than a simple unilateral reaction by the bureaucracy to the international environment -- it is now a more complex process of international pressure backed by domestic pressures and demands. As domestic actors -- politicians, IDNGOs and other NGOs, academics, and the general public -- have become more aware themselves of the alternatives and norms promoted at the international level, state officials have increasingly felt the need to change policies in order to gain legitimacy at home. International socialization of the state, in other words, is slowly being reinforced by the internationalization of society itself.
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Note 1: I would like to thank the Hauser Center for Nonprofit Organizations at Harvard University for providing funding for my travel expenses to attend this conference. As a Doctoral Fellow at the Center this academic year, I have greatly benefited from the Hauser Center's material and intellectual support. I would also like to thank the following participants of the Global Perspectives on Civil Society in Japan conference for their useful comments on an earlier, different version of this paper: Susan Pharr, Muthiah Alagappa, Sheldon Garon, Andrew Gordon, Yutaka Tsujinaka, Robert Pekkanen, Patricia Maclachlan, Helmut Anheier, and Charles E. Morrison. Back.
Note 2: Most writers point to the following factors as ones promoting the "rise" of NGOs in the 1990s: the end of the Cold War and higher levels of democratization, technology advancements in transportation and communications (cheaper transportation, the fax, the internet, etc.), the failure of the state to provide all functions required by the population, the transborder nature of "global" issues, higher levels of wealth and organizational differentiation, and higher levels of trade and global interaction. See Mathews (1997), Lipschutz (1992), Weiss and Gordenker (1996), Spiro (1995), and Boli, Loya and Loftin (1999). Although some mention the greater availability of financial resources (and, in particular, resources provided by the state or international organizations), this is never highlighted as the main reason nor is it explored in any detail as a possible political explanation.Back.
Note 3: Compared to IDNGOs in most countries which go through simple filing procedures to register as a non-profit or a charity, for example, 90% of all IDNGOs in Japan (prior to 1998) did not have legal status and were not eligible for tax breaks or deductions on contributions See JANIC 1998.Back.
Note 4: This funding program was an opaque system for insiders and not open to competition among groups or publicly advertised. IDNGOs that received state funding tended to be parastatal organizations or groups with legal status that had elite connections, a conservative ideology that did not conflict with the state, and or organizations with a specific technical expertise.Back.
Note 5: Although several IDNGOs received subsidies from MOFA prior to the establishment of these new programs, pre-1989 subsidized IDNGOs were few in number and the system of support was nontransparent and not open to the general IDNGO population. In the 1980s, for example, there were five groups that received MOFA subsidies: the International Medical Foundation of Japan, OISCA, JOICFP, International Nursing Foundation of Japan, and Association for the Promotion of International Cooperation (APIC). (MOFA 1987). Back.
Note 6: Since the majority of Japanese IDNGOs do not have offices overseas, they have received proportionately fewer grants than local and international NGOs. In 1996, for example, Japanese IDNGOs received 7.0% of the total grants disbursed, as compared with 41.5% received by local NGOs and 6.6% received by international NGOs.Back.
Note 8: Since it relies on savings of Japanese citizens, POSIVA is a barometer of private support for IDNGOs in Japan and the number of subscribers to the account has risen dramatically from 2.13 million people in 1990 to 16.74 million in 1994 to 23.45 million in 1997. Although IDNGOs often complain about the difficulties of fundraising in Japan, POSIVA is proof of public interest in supporting them the catch is that many Japanese do not directly support or join IDNGOs as members, but seem to prefer an arrangement in which the government collects funds and chooses IDNGOs.Back.
Note 9: Using the kondankai, Japanese IDNGOs were able to push for greater incorporation of local NGOs in developing countries into ODA projects. In addition to new training courses and eligibility for Grassroots Grants, Japanese IDNGOs successfully pushed MOFA to change the system so that NGOs working in the area of population and AIDS would be included in the entire cycle of project formulation and implementation. Through their kondankai participation, Japanese IDNGOs were also able to join official project formulation missions and promote more dialogues between the Japanese government and grassroots NGOs in developing countries. See Ikegami (1998).Back.
Note 10: The breakdown of the number of IDNGOs in the JANIC Directories that received some form of government support in the mid-1990s is: 166 groups (48%) with state funds, 96 groups (28%) with no state funds, and 85 groups (24%) with no information on funding sources available. This data is for fiscal years 1994-96. See JANIC 1996 and 1998.Back.
Note 11: Although MOFA claims some NGOs had been asking for money, there is no evidence of an organized IDNGO lobby that pushed for the specific programs that were created in 1989 and the early 1990s.Back.
Note 12: IDNGOs and NGOs became the preferred alternative vehicles for aid for the following reasons: their ability to directly reach and benefit the lives of the poorest in developing countries, their lower cost and higher effectiveness, their greater flexibility and innovative approaches to various problems, their ability to mobilize popular groups and increase popular participation, their small-scale, their emphasis on self-help type of projects, and their ability to raise public understanding and support for ODA spending. (Brown and Korten 1991; Clark 1991; Therien 1991; OECD 1988; World Development 1987)Back.
Note 13: Both the absolute amount and the proportion of ODA funds channeled through NGOs increased in the early through mid-1990s in Australia, Canada, Denmark, Finland, the Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Spain, United Kingdom, the United States and the EU. See various country chapters in Smillie and Helmich 1999. These funding increases seem to have contributed to the growth of IDNGOs in industrialized nations in the 1990s. In the United States, for example, compared with 205 US NGOs registered with USAID in 1988, there were 417 US NGOs registered in 1997. See Dichter (1999).Back.
Note 14: Some UN agencies (FAO, UNICEF, UNHCR, WFP) have had a longer history of ties with NGOs that predate the 1980s. The general profile of IDNGOs at the UN, however, was fairly low key until the 1980s and, aside from UNHCR, "partnerships" were fairly marginal. (Donini 1996) The 1990s was the period in which NGO participation at the UN started to explode, partly as a result of the fact that IDNGOs were getting a large amount of bilateral funding and were useful partners (Harriss 1995; Pratt and Stone 1994, Taylor 1995) and partly as a result of the convening of a series of global UN conferences that were very well attended by NGOs.Back.
Note 15: The decision to create the grassroots grant program was largely a response to an ODA review done by the Management and Coordination Agency (MCA) in 1988 which suggested the establishment of a small-scale grant cooperation system. The report gave only a general idea of what sort of system to set up and did not target support of NGOs in particular. The MOFAs decision to highlight this program as another means to support NGOs, thus, may have been influenced by international debates on the role of local NGOs at the time. See MCA (1988).Back.
Note 16: International criticisms and their domestic reverberations included: accusations that Japanese aid was overly commercial, lacking in philosophy and environmentally destructive; several ODA "scandal" exposes in the Japanese press in the mid to late 1980s; and organized pressure by a small group of activists and academics in Japan concerned about the negative impact of ODA on local populations in developing countries. See Pharr (1994) and Rix (1993).Back.
Criticizing a FY1998 cut in NGO Project Subsidies funds the review noted that "increasing the budgetary allocation for this valuable component needs to be seriously reconsidered." The review also suggested further expansion of the Grassroots Grants program. Similar to the 1995 report, the most recent review also discusses the domestic legal and fiscal barriers that have been hampering the institutional development of IDNGOs in Japan, urges Japan to give them "an enhanced role in the aid delivery system" and suggest that MOFA provide "a facility to encourage Japanese NGOs to gain expertise and to carry out effective projects by teaming with NGOs of other DAC Member countries." (DAC, 1999)Back.