Japan - Global health R&D

Japan’s funding for Global Health R&D nearly doubled in 2018

Japan was the eighth-largest public funder of global health research and development (R&D) in 2018, up from the tenth spot in 2017. It provided US$33 million (2018 constant prices) for research and development (R&D) on poverty-related and neglected diseases (PRNDs), referred to as ‘global health R&D’ in this profile. These figures are based on the G-FINDER survey conducted by Policy Cures Research.

Japan GH R&D

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Japan channels almost all of its global health R&D funding through the Global Health Innovative Technology (GHIT) Fund (92% or US$30 million in 2018). The GHIT Fund is an intermediary launched in 2013 that finances and manages a portfolio of product development partnerships between the public, private, and civil society sectors. The fund aims to respond to market failures in the development of drugs, vaccines, and diagnostics for infectious diseases including HIV/AIDS, malaria, tuberculosis, and neglected tropical diseases (NTDs).

Since 2013, the GHIT Fund has invested US$225 million, with the majority of this funding going to drug development and pre-clinical projects. To date, 47% of the portfolio (US$106 million) has been dedicated to neglected tropical diseases, and 42% (US$94 million) to malaria-related projects. The remaining funding goes to tuberculosis research (11%, US$25 million).

The GHIT Fund was launched with an initial commitment of US$100 million, pledged by the Japanese government, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, and pharmaceutical companies, for a period of five years. In May 2016, Japan committed an additional US$130 million for the GHIT Fund’s 2018 to 2022 replenishment period and is expected to continue to grow its global health R&D ODA contributions as it fulfills this pledge.

The Japanese government also supports health R&D outside of PRNDs. While not reported to the G-FINDER due to the focus on different types of health R&D, the Japanese Agency for Medical Research and Development, AMED – which is funded and overseen by the government – had a budget of ¥5.7 billion (US$52 million) for R&D on emerging infectious diseases.

Japan is supporting the development of vaccines, diagnostics, and therapeutics in response to the COVID-19 crisis. At the EU-led Coronavirus Global Response Pledging Conference in May 2020, former Prime Minister Abe announced that Japan will contribute US$234 million to the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations (CEPI) and Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance, which may count partially towards ODA.

The Ministry of Health and the MOFA make funding decisions for global health R&D

The Ministry of Health and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MOFA) are the most relevant actors for global health R&D policymaking. AMED consolidates budgets from different ministries and unifies the process for allocation of research funding. Within the GHIT Fund, the Selection Committee evaluates investment proposals and reports from the project partners and makes funding recommendations to the Board of Directors. The Board of Directors approves the funding recommendations.