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 Japan sees essential to address. Japan shows strong ongoing international leadership in the nutrition sector and has increased funding since 2012. Within the framework of the 2012 G8 initiative ‘New Alliance for Food Security and Nutrition’, Japan pledged US$453 million to nutrition funding. By the end of 2016, it had disbursed US$194 million to the nutrition sector, according to data in the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development’s (OECD) Development Assistance Committee (DAC) creditor reporting system.  

As part of Japan’s commitment during the sixth 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 to encourage international efforts to alleviate hunger and malnutrition in Africa. Specifically, IFNA involves sharing techniques and best practice in rice cultivation to support improved yields and thus nutrition. The initiative 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. 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.

The 2016 Global Nutrition Report (GNR) was launched in Tokyo in 2017 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.

According to the GNR, Japan contributed US$2 million in 2015 in nutrition-specific spending. Comparing Japan’s overall engagement in nutrition with other donors is difficult as the country does not report its nutrition-sensitive interventions to the Global Nutrition Report along with its nutrition-specific information, due to reporting issues. This data is expected to be available in time for the release of the next G7 Financial Reporting on Food Security and Nutrition, due in December 2018.

Japan has pledged a total of US$20 million to the ‘Scaling Up Nutrition’ (SUN) Fund, an initiative encouraging countries to mobilize and scale up resources for nutrition globally. for the 2016-2019 period.  Funding is channeled through the World Bank’s International Development Association (IDA).

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 lead up to this event, Japan will likely look for opportunities to strengthen its leadership in the sector.

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

At the ministerial level, MOFA and MAFF are the most relevant decision-makers for nutrition: They both have their own separate budgets. 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.