Japan - Nutrition

Japan is strengthening its international leadership on nutrition in the leadup to hosting the nutrition summit in 2021

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 increases its commitment in relation to 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 G8 initiative ‘New Alliance for Food Security and Nutrition’. Since 2015 Japan disbursed only US$19 million (in 2018 prices) to basic nutrition, US$9 million of which was in 2018. 

Japan does not participate in the ‘Scaling Up Nutrition’ (SUN) initiative to track nutrition-sensitive interventions in the Global Nutrition Report and has not made a financial commitment to Nutrition for Growth. Nonetheless, Japan has made non-financial commitments through Nutrition for Growth to: support nutrition through global actions on UHC; introduce public-private partnership in India, Bangladesh, and Ghana; and develop partnerships with multilaterals such as the World Food Programme and SUN. Japan has supported SUN through a pledge for the 2016 to 2019 period of US$20 million, which is channeled through the World Bank’s International Development Association (IDA).

Japan has launched several initiatives to support work on nutrition, which are largely led by the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA). As part of Japan’s commitment in 2016 during the sixth Tokyo International Conference on African Development (TICAD VI), 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. In addition, JICA holds the leadership of the ‘Nutrition Japan’ initiative, which aims to foster public-private partnerships to invest in improving nutrition in developing countries.

Japan’s leadership on nutrition is expected to increase as it prepares to host the Tokyo Nutrition for Growth Summit, which was originally planned for 2020 but postponed until 2021 due to the COVID-19 pandemic. In the lead up to the summit, Japan will likely look for opportunities to strengthen its leadership in the sector. The Government of Japan is calling for commitments across five areas: 1) Making nutrition integral to universal health coverage; 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.

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.