Japan is strengthening its international leadership on nutrition

Japan shows strong international leadership in the nutrition sector after increasing funding in recent years. In 2012, Japan pledged US$453 million to nutrition funding within the framework of the G8 initiative ‘New Alliance for Food Security and Nutrition’. By 2016, it had disbursed US$280 million to the nutrition sector. Food security/nutrition is one of the global challenges cited in Japan’s development cooperation charter.

As part of Japan’s commitment during the 6th Tokyo International Conference on African Development (TICAD VI) in 2016, the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) launched the ‘Initiative for Food and Nutrition Security in Africa’ (IFNA). The initiative aims to collaborate with African governments to speed up action on nutrition, and more specifically to foster international efforts to alleviate hunger and malnutrition in Africa. It emphasizes synergies between nutrition, agriculture, health, education, and the private sector, and advocates for an evidence-based approach that includes monitoring and evaluation of policies. It also seeks to improve coordination between humanitarian interventions for nutrition and longer-term development interventions. In addition, JICA holds the leadership of the ‘Nutrition Japan’ initiative, launched by the Government of Japan in 2016 to foster public-private partnerships to invest in improving nutrition in developing countries.

Quantifying Japan’s overall engagement for nutrition is difficult, as the country does not report its nutrition-sensitive interventions to the Global Nutrition Report. Japan is nonetheless a strong supporter of the ‘Scaling Up Nutrition’ (SUN) movement. The 2016 Global Nutrition Report was launched in Tokyo at an event that convened many government officials, including from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MOFA), the Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries (MAFF), and the Cabinet Office. In 2009, the Ministry of Finance (MOF) set up the Japan Trust Fund for Scaling Up Nutrition Investments, an initiative to build operational capacities for nutrition interventions in high-burden countries. Funding is channeled through the World Bank’s International Development Association (IDA); Japan pledged a total of US$20 million to the fund for the 2016-2019 period.

Looking forward, Japan’s leadership on nutrition is expected to increase. Japan will host the 2020 Nutrition Summit in Tokyo, along with the Olympic and Paralympic Games. In the run-up to this event, Japan will likely look for opportunities to strengthen its leadership in the sector.

Interventions that address immediate causes of undernutrition and have the improvement of nutrition (i.e., support for exclusive breastfeeding, supplementary feeding, etc.) as their primary objective.

Interventions that address underlying causes of malnutrition and that take into account cross-sector actions and impacts (i.e., improving access to diverse foods).

At a ministerial level, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries lead on strategy

At the ministerial level, the MOFA and the MAFF are the most relevant decision-makers for nutrition: they both have their own budgets on nutrition. The Cabinet is involved in high-level initiatives, such as the launch of the ‘Nutrition Japan’ platform, which involves other ministries (e.g., the Ministry of Health, Labor and Welfare) and the Cabinet Office. JICA leads on implementation for nutrition initiatives, and sets up its own initiatives, such as the IFNA.