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Home > Media Reiews > News Review Last Updated: 14:53 03/09/2007
News Review #168: October 16, 2003

Japan praises China's spaceflight

Reviewed by Hitoshi URABE

"Japan praises China's spaceflight"
Japan Times

Related Article:
"Japan answers US call for aid in Iraq, chips in US$1.5 billion for reconstruction"
(Hans Greimel, AP) San Francisco Chronicle


The Japan Times article introduced above cites congratulatory remarks and praises from a number of Japanese having various backgrounds. Chief Cabinet Secretary Fukuda, along with other government officials, have provided a quasi-official remark which wholeheartedly celebrates the event, and Japanese astronauts who have participated in the Space Shuttle program conducted by NASA of the US sent in nice comments.

A few remarks expressing concern are also introduced in the article, such as by a space technology analyst saying, "A country capable of launching a manned spacecraft anytime will have a large influence in terms of diplomacy at the United Nations and military affairs." But all in all, sending a man into space is a task not easily done, and the sheer fact that the massive project was managed and executed successfully is, whatever scientific significance it has to imply, is certainly worth being commended.

The article introduced above as a related article reports that Japan would be the largest donor, next only to the US, in reestablishing Iraq. It also conveys a somewhat cynical view that the fact it was announced a day before President Bush's visit to Japan was to avoid giving the impression that the donation was in response to strong demands by Mr Bush in person, that it was based solely on Japan's will.

Then what is the common theme between these two articles? The answer is very simple, Money.

The reason for Japan to commit "only" 1.5 billion US Dollars to Iraq was, as was told, that the amount expendable by the government at its discretion without asking for a resolution in the Diet had effectively limited it. It was also reported elsewhere that most of the money would be paid out from the ODA (Official Development Assistance) budget.

It is well known in Japan but barely if at all in other parts of the world that one of the largest recipients of Japan's ODA, an assistance program run by the government intended to help poor countries develop a minimum level of infrastructures so that the people there could at least have food and clothing, has been China. China has for a long time enjoyed this classification by Japan's government that it is a poor country where people are starving, and therefore, it needs assistance. China has received about 10% of Japan's total ODA budget annually, a level comparable only to Indonesia. Assistance to China began in 1979 and the money given since then exceeds 3 trillion yen. The volume was reduced significantly for the year 2002, but officially, China is still considered a developing country in the framework of Japan's aid program.

Three trillion yen should have sufficed to fund their man-in-space program, and also to maintain their nuclear armament development after they first detonated their nuclear bomb in 1964. While congratulating their success on their first space flight, there are voices in Japan to reconsider treating China as a developing country, so as to halt providing money as an "aid" to them.

Copyright © Japanese Institute of Global Communications