ABSTRACT

Foreign aid makes good copy; a juicy scandal, a suspect tendering process, a failed project or hints of political interference can always be found. The aid programme can easily be criticised-either too big or too small, too open to interference or too closed to outside inspection, too soft or too hard on the recipient, too focussed on one direction rather than another. The size of the Japanese aid programme makes the public interest aspects of aid a major issue at home; not just that, but aid projects are Japanese taxes at work. The Japanese publishing industry has latched on to foreign aid as a big sales item, as it has done for many a controversial issue over the years. Aid books are now high profile products for publishers and retailers alike, and a spate of volumes on Japan’s foreign aid programme have been given big ticket treatment in the main bookstores for a couple of years now. There is even a book about the exposés of aid.1 Newspapers have run lengthy series in the morning editions on the foreign aid programme, bringing the good and the bad before the public in a very direct manner. The Yomiuri shimbun, the newspaper with the largest morning circulation

in Japan of nearly 10 million, ran a series in late 1989 that took up one-third of the front page of the main morning edition over nearly five weeks.2