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Advocates criticize Norway for development budget reprioritization in response to Ukraine crisis

The Norwegian government is proposing a record-high development assistance budget of NOK44.9 billion (US$4.5 billion). On May 12, 2022, the government published the revised state budget, indicating the intent to increase the development assistance budget by NOK3.6 billion (US$366 million), to NOK44.9 billion (US$4.5 billion) total, corresponding to a 1.09% ODA/GNI ratio for 2022.
The government will increase funding to Ukraine and its neighboring countries by NOK1.75 billion (US$178 million), meaning that Norway will contribute at least NOK2 billion (US$203 million) in response to the Russian invasion. In addition, the government allocated 50% of the increase - NOK 1.8 billion (US$183 million) - to in-country refugee costs in Norway, which has been met with heavy criticism. 

The government also proposed the reprioritization of NOK4 billion (US$407 million) within the development assistance budget to finance increased refugee expenditure in Norway. This move aligns with OECD regulations, but advocates are increasingly concerned. The funding will draw from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the Ministry of Climate and Environment. The Ministry of Foreign Affairs will have to cut NOK3.6 billion (US$366 million) and the Ministry of Climate and Environment, NOK300 million (US$30 million).

According to the revised budget, the follwing thematic areas and organizations will be affected by the reprioritization:

  • Afghanistan: NOK60 million (US$6 million);
  • Gender equality: NOK65 million (US$7 million);
  • UN Organization for Rights and Equality (UN Women): NOK75 million (US$8 million);
  • UN High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR): NOK99 million (US$10 million);
  • World Health Organization: NOK118 million (US$12 million);
  • Human rights: NOK136 million (US$13 million);
  • Stabilization of countries in crisis and war: NOK140 million (US$14 million);
  • Civil society: NOK208 million (US$21 million);
  • Africa, regional allocation: NOK250 million (US$25 million);
  • The Knowledge Bank: NOK250 million (US$25 million);
  • United Nations Children's Fund (Unicef): NOK358 million (US$36 million);
  • United Nations Development Program (UNDP): NOK440 million (US$44 million);
  • Health: NOK470 million (US$47 million); and
  • Education: NOK553 million (US$56 million).

The only increased allocation in the development assistance as part of the reprioritization is funding towards food security, fish, and agriculture. The funding will be increased by NOK200 million (US$20 million) as a response to the impending global food crisis, which will be exacerbated by the Russian invasion.
Several Norwegian CSOs and international development advocates decried the revised budget. Henriette K. Westhrin, Secretary-General of Norwegian People's Aid indicated that it is incomprehensible that the government would consider cutting funding to the world`s poorest, especially since Norway is profiting immensly from the invasion. Secretary-General of Norwegian Church Aid, Dagfinn Høybråten, said that the cut could have major consequences for vulnerable people in low- and middle-income countries and could have a major domino effect on other donor countries' ODA. Secretary-General of Save the Children Birgitte Lange was similarly unimpressed with the development assistance budget cuts, highlighting that in the revised budget, for each seven dollars in development assistance, one will go to Norway rather than partner countries.

Press release - Ministry of Foreign Affairs 

News article - Bistandsaktuelt (in Norwegian)

News article - Bistandsaktuelt (in Norwegian)

EIB and European Commission sign new agrreement to guarantee US$28.8 billion for Global Gateway investments

The European Investment Bank (EIB) and the European Commission signed a new guarantee agreement to support €26.7 billion (US$28.8 billion) in EIB lending for Global Gateway investments over the next seven years.

The guarantee will support investments in the green and digital transitions, health, and education in EU partner countries as a part of the EU’s Global Gateway initiative. More than two-thirds of the guarantee cover will be targeted at investments in enlargement and neighborhood countries, including financing for Ukraine's post-war reconstruction. The rest will be targeted toward partner countries in sub-Saharan Africa, Asia, the Pacific, Latin America, and the Caribbean.

The guarantee agreement is housed within the framework of the new European Fund for Sustainable Development Plus ("EFSD+"), a part of the EU’s development instrument for 2021-2027, the Neighborhood, Development, and International Cooperation Instrument – Global Europe (NDICI – Global Europe). 

The EFSD+ will provide guarantee cover of €40 billion (US$43.2 billion) total, including the €26.7 billion (US$28.8 billion) reserved for the EIB. The rest of the €13 billion (US$14 billion) in guarantee cover will be available to eligible international financial institutions (including the EIB) under the EFSD+ open architecture.

Press release - European Commission

Press release - EIB

Canada announces US$181 million to support people affected by conflict in Syria

Canada participated in the sixth conference on supporting the future of Syria and the region on May 9 and 10, 2022, with the intention of addressing the critical needs of millions of people across the region amid the ongoing Syrian conflict. Canada announced that it would commit CA$229 million (US$181 million) in funding for humanitarian and development assistance to Syria and the region this year.

CA$60 million (US$48 million) of the funding will specifically support development assistance in Syrian, Iraq, Lebanon, and Jordan. The funding will focus on supporting accountable governance, empowering women and girls, advancing gender equality, improving the quality and sustainability of gender-responsive services including health and education, fostering economic growth, and addressing climate change.

Press release - Global Affairs Canada

Press release - Global Affairs Canada

Norway disbursed US$4.2 billion in development assistance in 2021

Statistics, released on May 10, 2022, by the Norwegian Agency for Development Cooperation (Norad), demonstrate that Norway gave NOK40.1 billion (US$4.2 billion) in development assistance in 2021 - the highest amount in absolute terms in Norway's history. In addition, the number represents a NOK600 million (US$6.2 million) increase from 2020.

Norad manages 50% of Norwegian development assistance, which is equivalent to NOK20 billion (US$2.1 billion). The Ministry of Foreign Affairs manages 32% of the total funding, while the rest of the funding is managed by other ministries such as the Ministry of Climate and the Environment and Norwegian embassies in partner countries. 

In total, Norway gave NOK7.9 billion (US$822 million) in health-related funding in 2021. This number also includes core support for multilateral organizations. In 2021, NOK2.9 billion (US$301 million) was earmarked to combat the COVID-19 pandemic and its respective consequences in low-income countries. Norway contributed 6.6 million COVD-19 vaccines, valued at NOK 380 million (US$39 million), according to the OECD.

The World Food Program (WFP), GAVI, the Vaccine Alliance, and the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria received the largest increases in funding in 2021 for individual organizations.

NOK6.4 billion (US$666 million) of the development assistance in 2021 was targeted at climate-related funding in low-income countries. According to Norad, 16% of Norwegian funding was directed toward climate. 

Syria is still the single country receiving the most funding from Norway as a result of the ongoing humanitarian crisis due to the more than 10-year civil war. In 2021, Norway gave NOK895 million (US$93 million) in humanitarian assistance to Syria. In the 10-year period between 2012-2021, Syria received NOK7.4 billion (US$770 million) in funding. In 2021, Norwegian funding for humanitarian assistance equated to NOK6.6 billion (US$687 million). 

Multilateral organizations received 58% of all Norwegian funding in 2021. NOK12.6 billion (US$ 1.3 billion) went to the UN system, while NOK3.2 billion (US$333 million) went to the World Bank Group. CSOs received 23% of Norwegian development assistance. Among CSOs, Norwegian Refugee Council received the largest amount of funding, followed by the Norwegian Red Cross, Norwegian Church Aid, Norwegian People's Aid, and Save the Children Norway. 

Norad – Press release (in Norwegian)

Bistandsaktuelt – News article (in Norwegian) 

FCDO international development strategy remains unpublished, internal budget allocations delayed

Devex recently reported that the Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office (FCDO) has not yet finalized internal allocations for its budget for FY2022/23. 

The overall budget envelope for the FCDO was set by the Chancellor of the Exchequer in his 2021 Comprehensive Spending Review at £11.1 billion (US$14.3 billion) for FY2022/23 (for both ODA and non-ODA spending). Normally, funding allocations to core thematic and geographic departments within the FCDO are decided by April the latest. However, Devex noted that the FCDO is struggling to finalize these internal allocations.

Part of the reason for the delay could be the failure of the FCDO to finalize its policy priorities, particularly in international development. The UK’s long-awaited International Development Strategy, which has been drawn up by the FCDO, was initially scheduled for release last year but remains unpublished. The Russian invasion of Ukraine in March was cited as the latest reason for the delay, as Foreign Secretary Liz Truss, set about re-writing the strategy in light of the geopolitical shift.

Devex noted that there are concerns that following the recent UK local elections on May 5, 2022, Prime Minister Boris Johnson may reshuffle the cabinet reshuffle, potentially causing further delays in the strategy's publication.

The UK NGO community has called for the publication of the International Development Strategy as soon as possible, especially in light of the currently reduced ODA budget and the need for transparency and clarity over the UK’s priorities moving forward.

News article – DEVEX

EIB launches new joint initiative with EU national banks to offer US$2.2 billion in financial support for Ukrainian refugees

The European Investment Bank (EIB) launched a new €2 billion (US$2.2 billion) initiative, Quick Response — Care for Ukrainian Refugees in Europe, with five national banks in the European Association of Long-Term Investors (ELTI).

The initiative will provide financing in 2022 to support Ukrainian refugees hosted in EU member states, including to help provide housing, education, healthcare, and infrastructure.

The ELTI is an association of 31 public national promotional banks and financial institutions in Europe. 

Press release - EIB

UK parliament urges government to prioritize women and girls in reduced ODA budget in Pakistan

The UK parliamentary committee on international development has called upon the UK government to use its reduced country ODA budget for Pakistan to focus on assisting marginalized groups like women and girls and, religious minorities.

The committee, which published a new report on UK ODA to Pakistan, highlighted that between 2015 - 2019, Pakistan was the single largest recipient of bilateral UK ODA. However, in 2020 it dropped to seventh place with an annual UK ODA budget of £200 million (US$268 million). The report illustrated how the UK via past programming had a positive impact on helping women and girls and religious minorities via its education and economic empowerment programs; but, progress made by these projects has been put in jeopardy as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic and cuts to the UK ODA budget. The report urged the UK government to use its smaller ODA budget to protect the gains made in these programs, focusing on girls’ education and women’s economic empowerment in hard-to-reach communities and by supporting other programs like nutrition and sexual and reproductive health which indirectly support these goals.

The report also called upon the Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office (FCDO) to continue to support the work of Pakistan’s National Commission on the Status of Women and its National Commission on Human Rights.

In order to improve the effectiveness of UK ODA in Pakistan, the report ultimately urges the UK to communicate its policy objectives clearly to its partners via its Integrated Delivery Plan.

Report – UK Parliament

Norway failed to meet 2021 0.1% ODA/GNI target

Despite economic growth and Norway giving more money to humanitarian efforts than ever before, the government did not reach its target of giving 0.1% of its gross national income (GNI) to international development in 2021.
The OECD recently published its preliminary development funding figures for 2021. The figures showed that Norway's ODA levels fell by 11.6% compared to 2020. Despite increased support for pandemic control and Norway giving more than NOK40 billion (US$4.2 billion) in funding - its highest contribution ever - to international development, Norway's ODA total fell from 1.11% of GNI in 2020 to 0.93% percent in 2021.

The government has promised to keep development assistance at one percent of GNI. However, in 2021 Norway fell short by NOK3 billion (US$339 million).

Revised figures from Statistics Norway (SSB) show that Norway's GNI grew by over 22% last year. The increased growth is mainly the result of record-high oil and gas prices towards the end of 2021 and the reopening of society during the COVID-19 pandemic. With high petroleum revenues as a result of the war in Ukraine, Norway's economy continues to grow, and the gap between economic growth and funding levels for international development may persist into 2022.

However, Norwegian ODA levels relative to GNI are still the second-highest among OECD donors, bested only by Luxembourg.

News article - Bistandsaktuelt (in Norwegian)

Canada announces US$57 million to respond to drought in Horn of Africa

At a high-level roundtable on the drought in the Horn of Africa, Harjit Sajjan, Canada’s Minister of International Development, announced over CA$73 million (US$57 million) in funding for gender-responsive development assistance to meet the needs of people in Ethiopia, Kenya, and Somalia. 

The funding is being distributed to these three countries, as the drought conditions they are facing could result in over 20 million people needing emergency food assistance in 2022. The funding will address hunger, acute malnutrition, water and sanitation, medical care, and other critical needs of crisis-affected populations. The funding will also support climate action, education, and women’s economic development and empowerment. 

Press release - Global Affairs Canada

Press release - Global Affairs Canada

European Commission launches Global Gateway cooperation projects with Niger, Ivory Coast, Ghana

European Commissioner for International Partnerships Jutta Urpilainen traveled to Niger, Ivory Coast, and Ghana to launch EU partnerships under the EU’s new Global Gateway investment initiative. 

Urpilainen announced several Global Gateway cooperation projects with these partner countries, including projects focused on sustainable cocoa, agricultural water management, climate, governance, security, vocational training, and education. She also announced €300 million (US$339 million) in 2021 funding from the EU’s development instrument, the Neighborhood, Development, and International Cooperation Instrument (NDICI) - Global Europe, for Niger. 

Urpilainen launched the following projects:

  • The first €58 million (US$66 million) was allocated to the Ivory Coast through Team Europe initiatives on sustainable cocoa production, low carbon transition, and security;
  • An additional €25 million (US$28 million) was allocated to a regional program to support best practices for sustainable plantations in Ivory Coast, Ghana, and Cameroon; and,
  • An EU contribution of €45 million (US$51 million) went toward a joint project with France to build irrigation infrastructure in Northern Ghana.

Press release - European Commission

UK launches US$119 million education program in Tanzania

The UK Minister for Africa, Latin America, and the Caribbean, Vicky Ford, announced that the UK government will provide US$119 million in development assistance to support improved learning outcomes for Tanzanian children, with a focus on girls, disabled children, and children living in deprived areas during her first trip to Tanzania.

The program, which is called Shule Bora, intends to help 4 million children in Tanzania access quality education. Funding will be aimed at supporting teachers and helping the Tanzanian government to maximize funding for educational outcomes.

The UK government reported that its education-focused development assistance helped over 15 million children across the world between 2015 and 2020, including 8 million girls.

Press release – UK Government

Italy's Joint Development Cooperation Committee approves US$200 million intervention package

Italy's Joint Development Cooperation Committee approved a package of interventions worth approximately €180 million($200 million): €22 million (US$25 million) was allocated for multi- and bi-lateral projects on food security and social, economic, and environmental development in Africa, the Middle East, and the Balkans, and €158 million ($179 million) was allocated for voluntary contributions to International Organizations:

  • €85 million (US$96 million) was allocated to the healthcare sector: €54 million (US$61 million) for the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis, and Malaria, €24 million (US$27 million) to GAVI, the Vaccine Alliance, and €4 million (US$5 million) to the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations (CEPI);
  • €37 million (US$42 million) was allocated for sustainable development and education: €17 million (US$19 million) to The Department of Economic and Social Affairs of the United Nations Secretariat (UN DESA), €7 million (US$8 million) to the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), €5 million (US$6 million)to the  Global Partnership for Education (GPE), €3 million (US$3 million) to the Mediterranean and Agronomic Institute of Bari (CIHEAM/IAMB), and €3million (US$3 million) to the International Development Law Organization (IDLO); and, 
  • €27 million (US$31 million) was allocated to the humanitarian sector and to support gender empowerment: €9 million (US$10 million) to the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), €6 million (US$7 million) to the International Red Cross (CICR), €5 million (US$6 million) to the United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF), €3 million (US$3 million) to United Nations Populations Fund (UNFPA), and €3 (US$3 million) to UN Women.

Press release - Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation (in Italian)

Canada announces US$54 million to support education for displaced youth in lead-up to Together for Learning Summit

On March 30, 2022, Canada’s Harjit Sajjan, Minister of International Development, announced CA$67 million (US$54 million) in development assistance funding to support education for children and youth experiencing forced displacement around the world. The funding came alongside the announcement of Canada’s Together for Learning Summit: Engaging Displaced Youth to Transform Education, which took place virtually on March 30 and 31, 2022. 

The summit intended to amplify the voices of youth who have experienced or continue to experience forced displacement and are passionate about access to education. The youth released a manifesto at the end of the summit with a call to action for governments, the private sector, civil society, and multilateral organizations. 

The CA$67 million (US$54 million) in funding will support youth education in countries including Ethiopia, Somalia, Mali, Cameroon, Niger, South Sudan, Uganda, Kenya, Jordan, Peru, Colombia, Venezuela, Brazil, Ecuador, Peru, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, and Guyana. It will support 11 projects, including: 

  • CA$14 million (US$11 million) through War Child Canada and Oxfam to enhance education for approximately 132,000 refugees and displaced youth, particularly girls, living in South Sudan and Uganda;
  • CA$13 million (US$10 million) through Plan International Canada to enhance education for nearly 40,000 refugees and internally displaced youth, particularly girls, living in conflict settings in Cameroon and Niger; and, 
  • CA$10 million (US$8 million) through Jordan’s Ministry of Education to improve learning outcomes for youth in Jordan through programs that promote life skills, gender equality, and inclusion. 

Press release - Global Affairs Canada

Press release - Global Affairs Canada 

Spanish development leadership visits Mauritania and Senegal, prioritizes cooperation in Sahel region

On March 27, 2022, the Spanish State Secretary for International Cooperation Pilar Cancela concluded her first official visit to the Sahel Region. Cancela met with high-level government appointees from Mauritania and Senegal, two of the priority partner countries for Spain’s development policy, and participated in the 9th Water World Forum, held in Dakar from March 21 - 26, 2022, to advance solutions towards water and sanitation worldwide.

Spain’s development leadership also visited development programs supported by Spanish development cooperation in priority areas, which included rural development, food security, climate change, health systems strengthening, maternal, newborn and child health, women’s health, gender equality, and higher education.

Cancela reaffirmed the Sahel region as a priority for Spain's development cooperation. Both the current Master Plan for Spanish Cooperation (2018-2021) and the new development bill, which is expected to be adopted by June 2022, highlight Niger, Mali, Mauritania and Senegal as key partner countries for bilateral cooperation.

Press release – Ministry of Foreign Affairs, European Union and Cooperation (in Spanish)

Female Foreign Ministers call on Taliban to let girls go to school

Liz Truss, the UK Foreign Minister issued a joint statement along with other 18 other female foreign Ministers from around the world, calling on the Taliban to live up to their commitment and allow girls in Afghanistan to go to secondary school.  

The statement which was co-signed by the Foreign Ministers of Albania, Andorra, Australia, Belgium, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Canada, Estonia, Germany, Iceland, Indonesia, Kosovo, Libya, Liechtenstein, Malawi, Mongolia, New Zealand, Norway, Sweden, and Tonga, highlighted the Ministers' deep concerns that girls in Afghanistan were denied their right to attend secondary school this spring. The statement urged the Taliban to adhere to international conventions and to stop denying girls their right to education.

Joint Statement – UK government

FCDO restructures senior management team with focus on security; experts worry UK will downgrade focus on development

The UK’s Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office (FCDO) has restructured its senior management team, including how it manages its development cooperation.

The FCDO’s most senior civil servant, Philip Barton, the FCDO permanent secretary, will now have an undersecretary for support. Tim Barrow will step into this role; Barrow formerly served as the FCDO’s political director.

Two new security posts have been established which appear to be driven by the war in Ukraine. Harriet Mathews has been appointed Director-General (DG) for Geopolitical and Security, and Thomas Drew has been appointed DG of Defence and Intelligence. Drew was formerly DG for the Middle East, North Africa, Afghanistan, and Pakistan.

More specifically on the development front, the FCDO has created a new DG post for 'Humanitarian and Development'. Nick Dyer, the UK government’s former special envoy on famine prevention and humanitarian affairs will take on the post temporarily while the FCDO recruits a long-term replacement.

In addition, a new DG post for Economics and Global Issues has been created. Kumar Iyer, who formerly served as the DG for Delivery at FCDO, will take on this role.

The reshuffle has resulted in resignations, with Moazzam Malik, the FCDO’s DG for Africa announcing his departure. The FCDO will temporarily hire a new DG responsible for Africa and Latin America before a long-term replacement can be found to take on this new role. Development experts have decried Malik’s resignation and the merging of African and Latin American development programs as a signal that the FCDO is downgrading its focus on development.

Finally, Jenny Bates, DG for Indo-Pacific will take responsibility for the UK’s development finance institute, British International Investment (formerly known as CDC), and Vijay Rangarajan, former DG of Americas and Overseas Territories, will now be responsible for the Middle East, Afghanistan, Pakistan, North America, and Overseas Territories.

News article – Devex

Spain and Mauritania to strengthen bilateral cooperation

On March 18, 2022, the Spanish State Secretary for International Cooperation, Pilar Cancela, and the Mauritanian Minister of Foreign Affairs, Ismail Ould Cheikh Ahmed, signed a memorandum of understanding aimed at fostering bilateral cooperation in science, education, and culture.

The signature of this new partnership agreement, which will operate until the end of 2024, preceeded State Secretary Cancela’s upcoming visit to Mauritania and Senegal. The Sahel region is among the geographic priorities of Spain’s development policy.

Press release – MAEC (in Spanish)

European Commission launches proposal for new AU-EU Innovation Agenda to drive African-European research cooperation

The European Commission (EC) published a proposal for a new AU-EU Innovation Agenda that outlines the objectives for cooperation on R&D between Africa and Europe.

The draft agenda’s objectives, which are part of the Africa regional package of the EU’s Global Gateway Investment Package, include: 

  • translating innovative capacities and results into tangible outputs; 
  • strengthening innovation ecosystems; 
  • developing sustainable and mutually beneficial higher education and R&I partnerships; and,
  • scaling-up instruments and programs. 

The draft plan addresses the four priorities of the AU-EU High Level Policy Dialogue (HLPD) on Science, Technology and Innovation: public health, green transition, innovation & technology, and capacities for science. 

European and African leaders welcomed the ongoing development of the agenda during the 6th AU-EU Summit in Brussels on February 17-18, 2022. The EC and the African Union Commission jointly launched a public consultation on the agenda during the EU-Africa Business Forum, which took place alongside the AU-EU Summit. 

Press release - European Commission

Proposal - European Commission

Consultation - European Commission

AU-EU Summit highlights health, green transition, economic recovery in African countries but produces few new funding commitments

EU and African leaders met in Brussels from February 17-18, 2022 for the 6th African Union (AU) - European Union (EU) Summit where they hashed out a joint vision for a renewed partnership. The summit conclusions focus on the major flashpoints between the continents, including vaccine equity, economic recovery in African countries, the green transition, peace and security, and migration and mobility. Leaders decided to drop a contested draft annex with a list of flagship projects.

While the final declaration includes an Africa-Europe Investment Package of at least €150 billion (US$170 billion), including health and education packages, this is not new financing. This package is the estimated size of the Africa regional program within the EU’s new Global Gateway infrastructure investment initiative, which will be composed of Team Europe’s (EC and EU member states) investments as well as leveraging private sector funding. Much of the EC’s funding for Global Gateway will be financed from the European Fund for Sustainable Development+ (EFSD+). 

The EU’s answer to China’s Belt and Road initiative, Global Gateway, is a €300 billion (US$339 billion) initiative that aims to scale sustainable investments in infrastructure for health, education, transport, energy, and digital connectivity. 

Summit declaration - Council of the EU

News article - Politico

News article - Devex

Japan strengthens commitment to development at 40th anniversary of APDA, AFPPD

Japanese Foreign Minister Yoshimasa Hayashi spoke at an event commemorating the 40th anniversary of the Asian Population and Development Association (APDA) and the Asian Forum of Parliamentarians on Population and Development (AFPPD) and outlined Japan’s commitment to human security and development.

In his speech, entitled, ‘Global Issues and Population: Japan's Role in the TICAD Debate and Towards Sustainable Development,’ Minister Hayashi emphasized the importance of addressing population issues in light of the significant impact that human activities have on the global environment. This is especially important in the context of achieving the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). He also pledged further support in international cooperation and African development, specifically citing the 8th Tokyo International Conference on African Development (TICAD8) to be held this year.

APDA is a Japanese organization that focuses on population and sustainable development issues, and AFPPD serves as a forum for parliamentarians in the Asia-Pacific region to further discussions on those issues.

News article – Inter Press Service News Agency

Press release – Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Japan (in Japanese)