One role of foreign aid is to increase the donor country's soft power by creating positive affect toward the donor in aid-receiving countries. Japan's Grant Assistance for Grassroots Human Security Projects (GGP) Program, run by the Japanese Ministry of Foreign Affairs, is an attempt at public diplomacy through foreign aid. The program funds small-scale infrastructure that is branded with the Japanese flag and that is commissioned in ceremonies involving the Japanese ambassador. The GGP mechanism has funded over 200 projects in Uganda. We collected survey data in 18 communities benefiting from recently completed GGP projects to see if information about the projects affects people's perceptions of Japan. We find low baseline awareness of Japanese involvement in the projects, but we also find that information about Japan's role provides at least a short-term increase in people's positive attitudes toward Japan.
Dr. Matthew S. Winters is Associate Professor in the Department of Political Science at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. He received his Ph.D. in Political Science from Columbia University and was a Postdoctoral Research Fellow at the Niehaus Center for Globalization and Governance at Princeton University. His research interests include the political economy of foreign aid and voter attitudes toward corruption. He has conducted research in Indonesia, Brazil, Bangladesh, and Uganda. He has published articles in Journal of Politics, Comparative Politics, International Studies Quarterly, World Development, Political Research Quarterly, and World Politics, among other outlets. He has consulted for USAID, AusAID, and the World Bank’s Independent Evaluations Group. He was a 2016-2017 Council on Foreign Relations/Hitachi International Affairs Fellow in Japan, affiliated with the National Graduate Institute for Policy Studies (GRIPS).