Japan showed strong global health leadership with its G7 presidency in 2016
Japan was the sixth-largest donor for global health among members of the OECD’s Development Assistance Committee (DAC) in 2015, spending US$876 million on health ODA. Health ODA accounted for 5% of Japan’s total ODA in 2015, well below the DAC average (9%). This is the result of Japan’s strong focus on infrastructure projects.
In September 2015, Japan launched a new global health policy, the ‘Basic Design for Peace and Health (Global Health Cooperation)’, which focuses on universal health coverage (UHC) and on preparing health systems for public-health emergencies such as Ebola. Japan seeks to use its expertise (health staff, technology, pharmaceuticals, and medical equipment) to meet these objectives. However, unlike previous health strategies, the new policy does not include a timeframe and concrete funding commitment for health. In line with the strategy, Japan agreed on a new action plan during a Ministerial Meeting to fight infectious diseases in February 2016. The plan focuses on four issues: 1) strengthening international systems to fight against infectious diseases, through the Global Fund, Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance (Gavi), and the Global Health Innovative Technology Fund (GHIT Fund); 2) developing domestic human resources in the infectious diseases field; 3) strengthening domestic research institutes; and 4) strengthening key domestic institutions dealing with infectious diseases.
Japan has demonstrated leadership on global health in the past, particularly around HIV, tuberculosis and malaria, and maternal, newborn and child health (MNCH), but is no longer considered a leader in the sector. However, health was one of three priority initiatives of its G7 presidency in 2016 (alongside women’s empowerment and stabilization of the Middle East). Health-related discussions at the 2016 G7 summit focused on three areas: public health emergency response, promotion of UHC, and measures against anti-microbial resistance.
In 2015, Japan channeled 53% of its health ODA multilaterally, slightly below the DAC average (55%). The Global Fund is by far the largest recipient (46% of multilateral health ODA, or 24% of total health ODA). Due to Japan’s focus on infrastructure, bilateral health ODA only amounted to 3% of total bilateral ODA in 2014 (DAC average: 7%). Japan’s bilateral investments focus is on health systems strengthening (HSS), which accounted for 31% of Japan's bilateral health ODA in 2015. Other key areas include infectious disease control (25%), medical services (22%), and reproductive health care (11%).
Priority regions for Japan's bilateral cooperation on health:
- South-East Asia
- South Asia
- South Central America
The Ministry of Foreign Affairs ‘Global Health Division’ is in charge of strategy; Japan Agency for International Cooperation leads on implementation
Within the International Cooperation Bureau of Japan’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the ‘Global Health’ division within the ‘General Directorate for Global Issues’ is in charge of health-related issues. In regards to implementation, Japan Agency for International Cooperation’s (JICA) ‘Human Development’ department is the most relevant, alongside the different geographic departments.