Japan - Nutrition

Japan is strengthening its international leadership on nutrition

Food security and nutrition are mentioned in Japan’s ‘Development Cooperation Charter’ as being among the global challenges that development activities must address. Moreover, Japan views nutrition as an essential building block of universal health coverage (UHC) and prioritizes nutrition activities through the lens of health.

Japan has funded nutrition heavily in the past and often makes commitments around major events or initiatives. The most notable of these in recent years is Japan’s pledge of US$453 million to nutrition funding within the framework of the 2012 G-8 ‘New Alliance for Food Security and Nutrition’ initiative. Between 2016 and 2020, Japan has disbursed only US$52 million to basic nutrition, US$15 million of which was in 2020. Japan does not regularly participate in tracking nutrition-sensitive interventions in the Global Nutrition Report, an initiative of ‘Scaling Up Nutrition’ (SUN), but self-reported its nutrition-sensitive disbursements in 2019 as US$487 million (latest year of reporting) to the report.

During the 2021 Tokyo Nutrition for Growth Summit, Japan pledged ¥300 billion (US$2.8 billion) over the next three years to address nutrition-related problems in low- and middle-income countries. Japan has also made other commitments to support nutrition through global actions on UHC; introduced public-private partnerships in India, Bangladesh, and Ghana; and developed partnerships with multilaterals such as the World Food Programme (WFP) and SUN. In 2019, the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) and WFP amended their cooperation agreement and nutrition was added in the amended agreement as one of the key areas of cooperation. As of July 2022, Japan has made a total contribution of US$144 million to the World Food Programme in 2022, making it the eighth largest public donor to the organization.

Japan has launched several initiatives to support work on nutrition, which are largely led by JICA. As part of Japan’s commitment during the Sixth Tokyo International Conference on African Development in 2016, 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, with a focus on food security, adequate care and feeding practices, and access to health services. In addition, JICA holds the leadership of the ‘Nutrition Japan’ initiative, which promotes public-private partnerships invested in improving nutrition in low- and middle-income countries.

As part of its increasing leadership efforts on nutrition, Japan hosted the ‘Tokyo Nutrition for Growth Summit’ in December 2021, in which it made a 3-year commitment of US$2.8 billion for nutrition-related assistance. This pledge will focus on five areas: 

  1. Making nutrition integral to UHC; 
  2. Building food systems that promote nutrition, provide livelihoods for producers, and are climate-smart; 
  3. Addressing malnutrition in fragile and conflict-affected contexts; 
  4. Promoting data-driven accountability; and 
  5. Securing new investments and driving innovation in nutrition financing.

The next summit is slated to hold in France in 2024.

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

At the ministerial level, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MOFA) and the Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry, and Fisheries (MAFF) are the decision-makers regarding nutrition policy. The two ministries each have their own separate budgets that can be spent at their discretion.
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 -- under the leadership of Vice President for Food, Security, Agriculture, and Nutrition Tadashi Sato -- leads on implementation for nutrition initiatives and sets up its own initiatives, such as IFNA.