Japan has continued to show global health leadership in its G20 presidency in 2019

Japan was the fifth-largest donor to global health among members of the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development’s (OECD) Development Assistance Committee (DAC) in 2016 (the latest year for which complete data is available). In absolute terms, Japan spent US$871 million on official development assistance (ODA) for health. Health ODA accounted for 5% of Japan’s total ODA in 2016, well below the DAC average (8%). This ranks Japan as the 18th-largest donor to health in relative terms.

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In 2015, Japan launched a new global health policy, the ‘Basic Design for Peace and Health (Global Health Cooperation)’, which focuses on universal health coverage (UHC) and on preparing health systems for public health emergencies such as Ebola. Japan seeks to use its expertise (health staff, technology, pharmaceuticals, and medical equipment) to meet these objectives. However, unlike previous health strategies, the new policy does not include a timeframe or concrete funding commitment for health.

In line with its global health policy, Japan agreed on a new action plan during a ministerial meeting to fight infectious diseases in 2016. The plan focuses on four issues:

  1. Strengthening international systems to fight against infectious diseases through the Global Fund to fight AIDS, Tuberculosis, and Malaria (Global Fund), Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance (Gavi), and the Global Health Innovative Technology Fund (GHIT Fund);
  2. Developing domestic human resources in the infectious diseases field;
  3. Strengthening domestic research institutes; and
  4. Strengthening key domestic institutions dealing with infectious diseases.

In support of the action plan, Japan pledged US$800 million to the Global Fund for the period 2017 to 2019. It had disbursed US$793 million of this at the end of July 2019. In advance of the upcoming replenishment period for 2020 to 2022, Japan announced a pledge of US$840 million, a 5% increase over its previous pledge.

Japan also pledged US$95 million to Gavi for the period 2016 to 2020, its first ever multi-year pledge. According to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, so far in FY2016 and FY2017, ¥4.4 billion (US$39 million) has been disbursed. Japan will host the Gavi replenishment launch meeting for the 2021-2025 replenishment period during the seventh Tokyo International Conference on African Development (TICAD7) in August 2019.

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In 2016, Japan channeled 48% of its total health ODA multilaterally, below the DAC average (56%). The Global Fund was by far the largest recipient (41% of multilateral health ODA, or 20% of total health ODA). 32% of multilateral ODA went to the International Development Association (IDA) of the World Bank, and 18% went to the World Health Organization (WHO).  

In 2017 (the latest year for which bilateral ODA data is available), bilateral health ODA amounted to just 3% of Japan’s total bilateral ODA, the same share as in 2016. Japan’s bilateral investments focus on health systems strengthening (HSS), in line with its focus on UHC. HSS funding accounted for 38% of Japan’s bilateral health ODA in 2017, made up of health policy and administrative management and basic health infrastructure. Other important areas of Japan’s health ODA are medical services (20%) and infectious disease control (18%).

During its presidency of the G20 in 2019, Japan has championed the importance of global health and UHC.

Japan hosted the UHC Forum in December 2017, in collaboration with WHO, the World Bank, and UNICEF, the United Nations Children’s agency. The forum brought together government representatives and global health organizations with the goal of stimulating progress towards achieving UHC. At the meeting Japan pledged US$2.9 billion in development assistance to promote UHC world-wide, though it did not specify a precise time period nor recipients for the disbursement. 

During its presidency of the G20 in 2019, Japan has championed the importance of global health and UHC. In the G20 Osaka Leaders’ Declaration heads of states agreed on the importance of UHC, primary health care (PHC), ageing, public health preparedness and multinational coordination, ‘one-health approach’, and antimicrobial resistance (AMR). The Health and Finance Ministers’ Meeting also saw an official statement on the importance of sufficient domestic and external resources for global health, a first for a G20 meeting.

In 2020, in the sidelines to the Tokyo Olympics, Japan will host a nutrition summit in 2020 as a follow up to the ‘Nutrition for Growth’ event in London in 2013. The goal of the summit is to encourage world leaders to commit funding in support of strengthened nutrition as an essential building block of UHC.

For further details on methodology, see our Donor Tracker Codebook.

For further details on methodology, see our Donor Tracker Codebook.

MOFA’s ‘Global Health Policy Division’ oversees strategy; JICA leads on implementation

Within the International Cooperation Bureau of Japan’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MOFA), the ‘Global Health Policy’ division within the ‘General Directorate for Global Issues’ leads on health-related issues. Within the Japan Agency for International Cooperation (JICA), the ‘Human Development’ department is responsible for implementation, alongside the different geographic departments.