Japan - Global health

Japan ranks among the top donors to global health in absolute terms and is increasing its contributions to health multilaterals

Japan was the fourth-largest donor to global health among members of the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) Development Assistance Committee (DAC) in 2019. Japan spent US$1.0 billion on official development assistance (ODA) to health in 2019. Health ODA accounted for 5% of Japan's total ODA in 2019 which is below the DAC average (8%) and placed Japan in 18th place among other donors in relative terms.
Japan has been increasing its share of health ODA channeled through multilaterals, which accounted for 61% of health ODA in 2019, up from 59% in 2018 and 50% in 2017 (DAC average 50%).

Priority countries for bilateral cooperation on health

  • Afghanistan
  • Pakistan
  • Vietnam
  • Mozambique
  • Kenya

Bilateral ODA represented 39% of Japan's health ODA in 2019, amounting to US$401 million. This represents 3% of Japan's total bilateral ODA, a slight decrease from 4% in 2016 and 2017. 

Japan prioritizes global health in its ODA policy framework, the Development Cooperation Charter, with an emphasis on quality health care, infectious disease control, and universal health coverage (UHC). In the lead-up to Japan's G7 presidency in 2016, Japan launched a new global health policy, known as the 'Basic Design for Peace and Health (Global Health Cooperation)', which focuses on UHC and on preparing health systems for public health emergencies. However, unlike previous health strategies, the new policy did not include a timeframe or concrete funding commitments for health.
Japan's bilateral investments focus on health systems strengthening (HSS), in line with its focus on UHC. HSS funding accounted for 30% of Japan's bilateral health ODA in 2019, incorporating basic health infrastructure (15%) and health policy and administrative management (15%). Other important areas of Japan's bilateral health ODA are medical services (25%), infectious disease control (19%), and reproductive health care (7%). Given Japan's recent response and commitments towards fighting the COVID-19 crisis, it is expected that the focus on infectious disease control will grow.


In October of 2020, Japan released its health strategy for COVID-19 response in partner countries, 'Leave No One's Health Behind'. The strategy puts renewed emphasis on achieving UHC and prioritizes three pillars: 

  1. Supporting immediate COVID-19 response through strengthened capacity for health services, vaccines, diagnostics, and therapeutics;
  2. Advancing long-term health systems strengthening in partner countries; and 
  3. Promoting broader health security through support for sectors including water and sanitation, nutrition, education, and gender equality. 

The Japanese government has been supportive of the Access to Covid-19 Tools Accelerator (ACT-A), and by October of 2021 had pledged a total of US$1.2 billion to the ACT-A for its 2020-21 budget, which included US$1.0 billion provided to the Gavi COVAX facility to ensure equitable access to vaccines.  It is important, however, to note that not all ACT-A funding is reportable as ODA. As of February of 2022, there has been no reported commitment from Japan to ACT-A for its 2021-2022 budget.

MOFA’s ‘Global Health Policy Division’ is in charge strategy; JICA leads on implementation

Within the International Cooperation Bureau of Japan’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MOFA), the Global Health Policy Division, led by Director Satoshi Ezoe, is in charge of health-related issues. Within the Japan Agency for International Cooperation (JICA), the Human Development Department, led by Senior Vice President Nobuko Kayashima, is responsible for implementation, alongside the different geographic departments.