Japan's involvement as a donor of Official Development Assistance (ODA) can be traced back, historically, to post-second world war arrangements for war damage reparations. At that time, the late 1940s, early 1950s, Japan was itself a low-income country, whose industries had suffered widespread dislocation and ruin due to war. Yet, the new post-war Japanese government, eager to work its way back into the comity of nations, undertook to make reparation for the destruction of economic assets in the territories that had been fought over. The reparations agreements concluded in the 1950s involved many of the developing countries on the Asia/Pacific Rim—reflecting the pattern of wartime conquest—some of them independent, others still under European colonial rule. Thailand and the People's Republic of China were excluded from reparations, the former due to its wartime co-belligerent status, the latter since it was unrecognized by Japan, ironically in view of their subsequent emergence as the largest recipients of Japanese bilateral ODA by the 1980s. In the event, by the time Japanese reparations had become available, reconstruction assistance had already begun to give way to post-reconstruction support for public sector economic growth. A greater part of these reparations consisted of deliveries of Japanese capital goods and equipment, e.g., cargo ships, through transfer mechanisms designed to match Japan's re-emergent industrial export capabilities with the import requirements of Southeast Asian economic development.By way of contrast with the contemporary Western orientation in development assistance to Asia, driven by a 'Big Push' syndrome towards relatively large-scale infrastructure projects through such mechanisms as the Colombo Plan, the Japanese experience with reparations provided from the outset a closer strategic integration between Japan's international donor obligations, on the one hand, and its export strategy and dynamic competitive advantages in international trade, on the other.