Since the late 2010s, Japan has said publicly that it will provide foreign assistance to protect its national interest. A systematic text analysis reveals, however, that Japan had announced this objective as far back as 1969. From the 1970s through the 1990s, the connection of aid to the national interest was indirect and long-term, with the belief that global stability would lead to prosperity. In the 2000s, the suspension of aid to China and the reconstruction of Iraq became major topics of discussion. In recent years, securing the national interest through aid has diverged from the mercantilist approach of the past, which revitalized the Japanese economy. The presence of China as a competitor for infrastructure aid in Asia is the primary reason Japan has emphasized the national interest in its aid policy. The data demonstrate that Japan’s actual aid allocation behavior has been significantly influenced by its emphasis on the national interest.

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