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This paper challenges the existing studies on Japan’s Official Development Assistance (ODA) policy making, which have assumed that the Diet or Prime Minister is a key ODA decision-maker and argued that Japan’s motive in increasing foreign aid spending was subject to the politicians’ interests. Contrary to this position, the author argues that the primary ODA decision-making power in Japan has resided not with the politicians but with the bureaucracy. This study identifies the four primary decision makers (i.e., ministries) that exert influence on Japan’s ODA policy prior to 2000, all of whom operated from different ODA motives, and sees these actors as interest maximizers. The analysis focuses on the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, which is mainly concerned with security and Japan’s image in the eyes of other donors; the Ministry of International Trade and Industries, whose interests were commercial; the Ministry of Finance, which focuses on budget stringency; and the Economic Planning Agency which had more comprehensive and various interests. According to the author’s data analysis, the historical trend of Japan’s ODA expenditure pattern reflects the ups and downs of ministries in decision-making power (e.g., MITI’s diminishing power vs. MOFA’s increasing influence), which was caused by the inter-ministerial battle over the foreign aid policy.