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Ties to Japan


The Joint Japan/World Bank Graduate Scholarship Program has its origins in Japan’s meteoric economic growth, and its astonishing transformation from World Bank borrower to major World Bank lender.

When Japan joined the World Bank in 1952, the postwar nation was running chronic trade deficits. The next year, in 1953, Japan borrowed $250 million from the International Monetary Fund to tide it over hard currency shortfalls. Between 1953 and 1966, Japan borrowed $850 million from the World Bank to develop modern highways, the bullet train system and other projects. At one point, Japan was the Bank’s second largest borrower.

“We have been striving to build modern Japan as it is, by implementing appropriate economic policies,” the Honorable Ryutaro Hashimoto, then Minister of Finance and later Prime Minister of Japan, explained at the World Bank-IMF annual meeting in 1989. During its development process, Japan became “fully aware of the importance of human resources.”

“Japan’s loans from the Bank will be fully repaid in July, 1990,” Mr. Hashimoto announced. And he added, “Hoping that the developing countries will find something meaningful in this Japanese experience, I am pleased to announce that Japan is now prepared to contribute a total of about $300 million to the Bank over a three-year period.”

The World Bank Graduate Scholarship Program is supported as a part of this fund -- the Policy and Human Resources Development Fund (PHRD) -- a Japanese initiative to provide special assistance to strengthen human resources in developing countries.

Over the years, Japan has expanded its commitment to this endeavor. Meanwhile, it has contributed about $272 million to the World Bank Graduate Scholarship Program (renamed the Joint Japan/World Bank Graduate Scholarship Program in 1995 to reflect Japan’s central role). These funds have covered tuition, subsistence and travel costs for scholars, and the costs of Program management.

Six Partnership Programs were launched in five universities in Japan starting in 1995. One, at Yokohama National University, draws on Japan’s special expertise in infrastructure development. Another, at the University of Tsukuba, focuses on policy management. Three others, at Keio University, Yokohama National University, and Saitama University/GRIPS, specialize in tax policy and infrastructure management. These initiatives augment Japan’s commitment to human resource development in the developing world.

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