A representative of Japan's official development assistance agency said the organization is looking to expand its aid cooperation with Turkey.
With more than 100 offices worldwide, the Japanese International Cooperation Agency (JICA) engages in technical and infrastructure aid projects in developing countries, often jointly with other organizations such as its Turkish counterpart, the Turkish Cooperation and Coordination Agency (TİKA).
Speaking to Anadolu Agency, JICA's Miyuki Konnai said cooperation between Japan and Turkey was "very important," spanning over more than half a century.
"One of the most important activities here is disaster prevention activities," Konnai said, referring to JICA's activities in Turkey, which like Japan, lies on an earthquake-prone region.
A major undertaking in this regard has been the organization's disaster response training program in 2017 for disabled persons in Turkey's central Nevşehir province, added Konnai, who had participated in relief efforts following the 7.1 magnitude earthquake in Turkey's eastern Van province in 2011.
Citing trilateral aid and assistance projects with third parties from Afghanistan to Morocco, she expressed that JICA and TİKA also pursue "triangular cooperation" in a variety of areas such as aquaculture and energy efficiency.
One such project involved yearly seminars and workshops on gender awareness and domestic violence for female Afghan police officers who undergo training in Turkey's central Sivas province.
With the total value of its programs in the country at over $89 million, Turkey tops the rest of Europe as the country in which JICA is most active, according to a 2017 report by the organization.
Since the outbreak of the Syrian conflict in 2011 and the ensuing refugee flow, JICA has cooperated with Turkish municipalities in infrastructure improvement as well as refugees' mental care and social welfare.
Operating under the Japanese Foreign Ministry, JICA has provided official development assistance (ODA) loans as well as technical assistance, and cooperation regarding international organizations and Japanese nongovernmental organizations across Turkey, Konnai said in a workshop prior to her interview. She referred to a roughly $400 million project in which JICA provides technical and financial support for 10 municipalities in improving infrastructure affected by unexpected increases in refugees, mainly focusing on sewerage and solid waste treatment.
JICA is also conducting various projects for Syrian refugees and to strengthen social cohesion between refugees and their host societies by providing technical assistance in engaging with Syrian refugees through public and nongovernmental organizations and focusing on psychosocial care.
Konnai distinguished the most challenging part of JICA's work with refugees as the "sustainability" of the projects and their gains.
"We are seeking the possibility to mutualize our assets by cooperating with U.N. organizations from next year," Konnai said of the organization's plans following the completion of its current projects.