Japan is betting big on Afghanistan. It is second only to the United States in the amount of money it has pledged _ most recently at a high-profile donor summit held in Tokyo earlier this year _ to aid one of the world's poorest, most backward and violent societies, a nation that has been continuously at war for nearly three and a half decades. As the NATO military force prepares to wind down its combat mission in 2014, many international aid and development organizations are questioning whether they will be able to operate safely in the parts of Afghanistan where assistance is most desperately needed. At the same time, critics are pointing to more and more development projects that have gone awry, bogged down by unrealistic aims, faulty planning and cultural clashes. Afghanistan's artificial wartime economy, overwhelmingly dependent on foreign aid, is already beginning to teeter. Hopes for a political settlement with the Taliban and other insurgent groups are ebbing. The government of President Hamid Karzai has taken almost no meaningful measures to rein in rampant corruption. Given all this, is Japan throwing good money after bad? Has the fact that Japan refrained from military participation in the Afghan war due to its peace constitution caused it to overcompensate on the development front? Or can Japan succeed in Afghanistan where so many others have failed?