Japan - Nutrition

Japan is strengthening its international leadership on nutrition in advance of hosting the Nutrition for Growth 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 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 G8 initiative 'New Alliance for Food Security and Nutrition'. Between 2015 and 2019, Japan has disbursed only US$38 million to basic nutrition, US$19 million of which was in 2018. 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 to the Report its nutrition-sensitive disbursements in 2018 as US$304 million.

Japan has not yet made a financial commitment to Nutrition for Growth, but made non-financial commitments to support nutrition through global actions on UHC; introduce public-private partnerships in India, Bangladesh, and Ghana; and develop partnerships with multilaterals such as the World Food Programme and SUN. Japan has supported SUN through the 2015-2021 pledge of US$20 million, 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, 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 aims to foster public-private partnerships to invest in improving nutrition in low- and middle-income 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 December of 2021 due to the COVID-19 crisis. 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 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.

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.