Policy Updates

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Donor Tracker to host webinar on donors’ international COVID-19 response following Global Goal Summit pledges

On July 2, 2020, from 16:00-17:00 (CEST), Donor Tracker will host a second webinar on donor countries’ international COVID-19 responses following the Global Goal Summit. The Summit, held on June 27, raised US$6.9 billion for developing globally accessible COVID-19 vaccines, diagnostics, and treatments.

The Donor Tracker's expert team will analyze the Summit's outcomes and discuss implications for donor countries’ further international responses to the pandemic.

Registration - Zoom 

Japan provides US$17 million for medical equipment, maritime security in Papua New Guinea

The Japanese Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MOFA) has announced new grants to Papua New Guinea, including US$8 million (¥900 million) for healthcare and medical equipment to tackle COVID-19 and US$9 million (¥1 billion) for strengthening maritime security.

While immigration restrictions have limited the number of COVID-19 cases in Papua New Guinea, the Japanese government has stressed that it is important to support Papua New Guinea in addressing risks as it relaxes entry restrictions. To this end, Japan will provide X-ray imaging equipment, CT-scanners, and more to help strengthen Papua New Guinea’s healthcare system.

According to the Japanese government, about 65% of the population of Papua New Guinea (or approximately 5 million people) live near coastal areas, and small vessels are essential for transporting freight and passengers, and making a living (fishing, etc.). However, for navigation and search and safety, MOFA reports that Papua New Guinea only has 9.5 meter-class ships that are limited to a range of 100 km near the capital of Port Moresby. MOFA's funds will provide rescue boats and maritime security equipment (such as wireless communication systems) to the National Maritime Safety Bureau of Papua New Guinea.

Press release – Ministry of Foreign Affairs (in Japanese)

Japan supports construction of Afghanistan's first private sector gas-fired power plant

Along with the Asian Development Bank (ADB), the Japan International Cooperation Agency’s (JICA) Leading Asia’s Private Infrastructure Fund (LEAP) will support the construction of a 58.56-megawatt gas-fired power plant in Mazar-i-Sharif in northern Afghanistan. According to the ADB and JICA, the gas-fired power project aims to source gas locally and reduce electricity imports, as well as attract more private sector investment and financing.

Afghanistan has the world’s lowest electricity penetration rate of 34%. According to JICA, while energy demands have been growing at nearly twice its economic growth rate, Afghanistan remains highly dependent on energy imports from neighboring countries, which consists of at least 75% of its power.

The ADB and JICA have each committed loans of US$10 million for the project. Private sector sponsors include the Ghazanfar Group (of Afghanistan) and Hassan Allam Holdings (of Egypt) will participate as sponsors, and the International Finance Corporation (IFC) and Deutsche Investitions- und Entwicklungsgesellschaft mbH (DEG) will provide additional finance. 

JICA has approved US$1.5 billion investment in the LEAD Fund and financial assistance totaling US$500 million since the fund's launch to support high quality infrastructure projects. 
    
Press release - Japan International Cooperation Agency

Japan International Cooperation Agency launches US$214 million in non-guaranteed domestic bonds

Japan's International Cooperation Agency (JICA) has launched ¥23 billion (US$214 million) in non-guaranteed domestic bonds in two tranches: ¥10 billion (US$93 million) with a 10-year maturity and ¥13 billion (US$121 million) with a 20-year maturity. 

The International Capital Market Association (ICMA) has dubbed these “Social Bonds”, which are qualified by the Japan Research Institute. These bonds are expected to support projects contributing to the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

Press release – JICA

Japan provides US$12 million for medical equipment and human resource development in Mongolia

The Japanese Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MOFA) has announced US$9 million (¥1 billion) in support for healthcare and medical equipment to tackle COVID-19, as well as US$2 million (¥249 million) for human resource development to Mongolia. 

Mongolia has had a total of 197 cases of COVID-19 as of June 12, 2020, which is lower than most countries. However, the Japanese government views Mongolia as vulnerable to a pandemic due to the lack of healthcare infrastructure and medical equipment. Therefore, MOFA's funds will provide ambulances, high oxygen concentrators, and more to strengthen Mongolia’s healthcare system.

Japan has paired its support for Mongolia's healthcare system with human resource development among Mongolian government officials, in order to improve the ability of the Mongolian government to institute development projects. According to the Japanese governmnet, although its industry is diversifying, Mongolia lacks the government personnel capable of addressing emerging development issues. The funds provided will support human resource development by allowing young Mongolian government officials to obtain a degree from Japanese graduate schools. 

Press release – Ministry of Foreign Affairs (in Japanese)

Japan's Global Health Innovative Technology Fund opens call for proposals for infectious disease research and development projects

The Global Health Innovative Technology Fund, a Japanese non-profit, has announced a new request for proposals (RFP) for the development of novel drugs, diagnostics, and vaccines for malaria, tuberculous, and neglected tropical diseases. The projects will help address health-related challenges in low-income countries or will fill gaps in health technologies for infectious diseases.

Projects are set to last 2-years or less and may focus on an array of research and development activities, such as lead optimization, preclinical development, clinical development, or activities to support licensure and World Health Organization (WHO) prequalifications. Projects should include one eligible Japanese and one eligible non-Japanese organization.

Further details of the request for proposals are provided online. Applications are due July 29, 2020, and full proposals are due August 17, 2020.

Press release – Global Health Innovative Technology Fund

Japan to provide US$19 million to Myanmar for health and medical equipment

The Japanese Ministry of Foreign Affairs has announced US$19 million (¥2 billion) in support to Myanmar for healthcare and medical equipment, in the context of the COVID-19 crisis. This includes X-ray imaging equipment, ICU beds, patient monitors and more, which will help strengthen Myanmar’s healthcare system.

Given the globalization of goods, services, and supply chains, the Japanese government has stressed the importance of tackling COVID-19 collaboratively with partner countries. In particular, the Japanese government emphasized the need for supporting countries with weaker healthcare systems, not only for the partner nation’s public health but also to prevent the further spread of COVID-19 to other countries.

Press release – Japanese Ministry of Foreign Affairs (in Japanese)

Japan supports implementation of first Civil Code in Laos

The Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) has been supporting the Laotian Government to strengthen and streamline its legal framework through the development of the first Laos Civil Code. First drafted in 2018, the law is now entering into force, and JICA is continuing its support with the implementation process.

Since 1986, Laos has been promoting open markets and has enacted a variety of ownership laws, family laws, inheritance laws, and more. However, there are inconsistencies and duplications in the laws since these laws were developed separately, rather than under a unified code. As a result, the development of the Laos Civil Code represents a significant step forward for the Laotian legal system. Nonetheless, challenges remain in ensuring existing legal frameworks and agreements comply with the updated laws, and that the code contains all necessary supplementary measures.

Blog post - ZICO Law

News article - Mainichi Shimbun (in Japanese)

Japan announces plan to invest in transportation, agriculture, healthcare, human resource development in Philippines

Japan has announced that it will provide ¥154 billion (US$1.4 billion) in loans to alleviate traffic congestion, as well as ¥3.1 billion (US$29 million) to improve agriculture, healthcare, and human resource development in the Philippines.

Japan plans to support the construction of coastal roads and a bridge connecting Cebu Island to Mactan Island, as well as a bypass that connects the south of Davao City with its ports. Cebu is the second-largest metropolitan area in the Philippines (population: 2.85 million as of 2015) and is a rapidly growing trade center. The population of Cebu is expected to reach 3.8 million by 2030, however, its transportation capacity has not kept pace with its rapid urbanization. Similarly, Davao City has achieved high economic growth in recent years and its economic importance is expected to grow.

As part of this announcement, Japan also committed to 1) provide agricultural machinery (for example, tractors) to improve sugar harvest; 2) provide health and medical equipment (for example, CT Scanners and MRI systems) to bolster the Philippines' response to COVID-19; and 3) finance the enrollment of 22 young government officials in graduate schools in Japan to develop human resources. Compared to the Philippines’ economic growth rate of 6% to 7%, the agricultural sector has been growing at a significantly slower rate. As for COVID-19, there were over 16,000 cases and 920 deaths in the Philippines, and the medical infrastructure is not sufficient for tackling the pandemic. Finally, the Philippines lacks adequate human resources, organizations, systems, finances, and capabilities to address all of the development challenges it faces, including those described above.

Press release – Ministry of Foreign Affairs (in Japanese)

Japan to provide US$14 million for health and medical equipment to Laos

Japan announced that it will provide ¥1.5 billion (US$14 million) for health and medical equipment to strengthen Laos’s response to COVID-19.

The globalization of goods, services, and supply chains has made COVID-19 a major threat to social and economic conditions throughout the world, including Japan. According to the Japanese government's press release, COVID-19 needs to be tackled by nations together. The government stressed the importance of preventing the spread of the virus in countries with weak healthcare systems, not only for the nation’s public health but also to prevent the further spread of COVID-19 to other countries.

According to the press release, although COVID-19 is not yet widespread in Laos, the healthcare system is extremely fragile and the virus could potentially spread throughout Laos and the Mekong region. Therefore, the funds will provide Laos with health and medical equipment such as ambulances and medical beds to strengthen the healthcare system.

Press release – Ministry of Foreign Affairs (in Japanese)

At Gavi's Global Vaccine Summit, world leaders exceed funding target with historic US$8.8 billion

Representatives of 52 countries, including 35 heads of state, joined the June 5, 2020, Global Vaccine Summit, convened by Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance, to raise a total of US$8.8 billion in financing for childhood immunizations and vaccine infrastructure. World leaders, meeting with representatives of 12 organizations and corporations for the London-based pledging moment, hoped to reach a US$7.4 billion funding target. By the time the pledging ended, the target had been overshot by US$1.4 billion.

Against the backdrop of a still-raging COVID-19 pandemic which has claimed the lives of hundreds of thousands and laid waste to the global economy, attendees of the summit spoke passionately about the need for global cooperation and solidarity in ensuring that a vaccine against the novel coronavirus, once developed, be accessible to all.

The US$8.8 billion will support Gavi's campaign to vaccinate 300 million children in the world's poorest countries against diseases including diphtheria, polio, and measles by 2025. Disruptions to Gavi's regular immunization activities, caused by COVID-19, have endangered an estimated 80 million children under one year old. The funding will also bolster Gavi's efforts in strengthening health systems in low-income states which have been ravaged by the pandemic and will help build out infrastructure to support the eventual provision of a vaccine against the virus.

A further US$567 million was also raised for 'Gavi Advance Market Commitment for COVID-19 Vaccines' (Gavi Covax AMC), a new financing instrument designed to provide access to the eventual COVID-19 vaccine specifically in low- and middle-income countries.

“To beat the COVID-19 pandemic, the world needs more than breakthrough science. It needs breakthrough generosity,” said Bill Gates, co-chair of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. “...When COVID-19 vaccines are ready, this funding and global coordination will ensure that people all over the world will be able to access them.”

Press release - Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance

Japan pledges US$306 million at Gavi's Global Vaccine Summit: 223% increase from 2015 pledge

At the Global Vaccine Summit, convened by Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance in London on June 4, 2020, Japan pledged US$306 million for the period of 2021-2025. This represents a 223% increase from Japan's contributions to Gavi of US$95 million for the period of 2016-2020. Japan was represented at the event by Prime Minister Shinzo Abe.

In his remarks, Abe highlighted the importance of international cooperation and the need for equitable access to vaccines. Assuming that a vaccine for COVID-19 will be developed, Abe indicated the need for preparations now to supply the vaccine across the world. Abe also expressed hope that Japanese companies’ innovations in vaccines as well as manufacturing and supplying capabilities will be utilized more.
 
Press release – Japanese Ministry of Foreign Affairs (in Japanese)

News article – The Sankei News (in Japanese)

Japanese Diet Member urges greater ODA budget allocation to COVID-19 response

Japanese House of Counselors Member Gaku Ito (Japanese Communist Party) has urged that a greater portion of the ODA budget be allocated to medical care and public health - as well as social support such as public education - to help prevent the spread of COVID-19. 

Speaking at the House of Counselors ODA Special Committee meeting, Ito indicated the importance of preventing the spread of COVID-19 in Africa, emphasizing that widespread infection across the continent may eventually lead to subsequent spread to Japan. At the same meeting, Foreign Minister Toshimitsu Motegi asserted that supporting countries with fragile healthcare systems is an important issue for the international community.

Additionally, Ito requested that greater contributions be made to the development of vaccines via GAVI, the Vaccine Alliance, and Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs Tamaki Tsukada highlighted the importance of vaccines in protecting citizens.

In making his case, Ito noted that in 2018, Japan’s allocation of ODA budget to economic infrastructure was 57.3%, disproportionately higher than that of other ODA DAC members. Meanwhile, according to Ito, only 15.8% of the ODA budget was allocated to sectors such as health and education.

News article – Akahata Shinbum (in Japanese)

Myanmar moves forward with proposals to receive COVID-19 funding from Japanese development agency, IMF

The Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) has offered to grant an emergency loan of official development assistance (ODA) to Myanmar to financially support their response to COVID-19. A proposal to borrow ¥30 billion (US$278 million) from JICAwas recently approved by parliament. The funds will be managed by Myanmar’s Ministry of Planning, Finance, and Industry.
Parliamentarians advocated for the funding to be allocated to those sectors that require the most support, specifically targeting farmers at low-interest rates to secure more workers and ensure high crop quality.
JICA’s loan has a 40-year payback period, including a 10-year grace period, at an interest rate of 0.01pc.
Myanmar also plans to borrow money from the International Monetary Fund (IMF), since IMF loans have lower rates and longer terms compared to government-issued bonds. Myanmar has already received US$50 million from the World bank and will receive US$200 million more to strengthen its agricultural sector.

News article – Myanmar Times

Japan to strengthen disaster resilience in Nepal

Japan has announced that it will provide 1.2 billion (US$11 million) for the Project for the Development of Digital Elevation Model and Orthophoto.

Nepal is extremely vulnerable to natural disasters due to its underdeveloped infrastructure. During the rainy reason, chronic floods do significant economic and social damage. For example, in the Terai region of southern Nepal, which serves as a contact point for transportation and logistics with India, heavy rain severely damages industry and infrastructure.

Therefore, these funds aim to strengthen disaster resilience in the country’s southern region by developing a Digital Elevation Model and by providing Orthophoto. The Digital Elevation Model represents topography in digital format, and Orthophoto is a computer-generated composite image made up of aerial photographs with distortions caused by terrain relief and camera tilts removed. The Digital Elevation and Orthophoto will cover more than 300 square kilometers and will contribute to the creation of an approximately 500 square kilometers hazard map. This is expected to increase the Nepalese government’s capacity to identify expected flood areas and implement flood controls such as dikes and retention ponds.

Press release – the Japan Agency of International Cooperation

Press release – Ministry of Foreign Affairs (in Japanese)

Japan to provide US$3 million to improve mental healthcare in Yemen

Japan has announced that it will provide ¥328 million (US$3 million) to improve mental healthcare in Yemen.

Currently, Yemen is facing a serious humanitarian crisis and about 24 million people (approximately 80% of the population) require some form of humanitarian assistance. In the northern region, more than 5 million people are need of mental healthcare.

For every 100,000 patients, there are only 0.2 psychiatrists/psychologists currently available in Yemen, and only 20% of health facilities provide mental healthcare services. Japan’s funds will provide emergency mental healthcare services, improve mental health facilities, supply pharmaceuticals and equipment, and train staff on mental health in eight northern provinces (Sana’a, Sa’da, Hajjah, Amran, Al Mahwit, Ibb, Dhamar, and Baida), one southern province (Aden) as well as the provinces of Al Hudaydah and Taizz.

 

Press release - Ministry of Foreign Affairs (in Japanese)

Japan holds international conference to discuss universal health coverage in context of COVID-19

Japan's Permanent Mission to the United Nations held an online conference on COVID-19, with participation from the WHO, UNICEF and UN ambassadors from over 100 countries. The primary focus of the event was to discuss the need for universal health coverage (UHC) in the context of the COVID-19 crisis, and officials from the WHO stated the need for global commitment on universal access to healthcare by providing development assistance, especially for vulnerable countries.

Referencing a political declaration by the UN last year promoting UHC, Japan's Ambassador to the UN Kimihiro Ishikane stated, “it's more important now than ever to be more involved with this declaration now that COVID-19 having a major impact on people."

Furthermore, WHO Deputy Executive Director Zsuzsanna Yakab claimed, “in order to suppress the virus, it is essential that everyone be able to receive medical services without suffering financial difficulties” and urged countries to improve their medical systems.

The 2014 Ebola epidemic illustrated the difficulties in preventing diseases like Ebola, measles, malaria, and tuberculosis in vulnerable medical systems, and UNICEF Director Henrietta Fore highlighted the need to prepare for other infectious diseases during the coronavirus pandemic.

News article – Japan Broadcasting Corporation (NHK) (in Japanese)

Japan holds international conference to discuss universal health coverage in the context of COVID-19

Japan's Permanent Mission to the United Nations held an online conference on COVID-19, with participation from the WHO, UNICEF and UN ambassadors from over 100 countries. The primary focus of the event was to discuss the need for universal health coverage (UHC) in the context of the COVID-19 crisis, and officials from the WHO stated the need for global commitment on universal access to healthcare by providing development assistance, especially for vulnerable countries.

Referencing a political declaration by the UN last year promoting UHC, Japan's Ambassador to the UN Kimihiro Ishikane stated, “it's more important now than ever to be more involved with this declaration now that COVID-19 having a major impact on people."

Furthermore, WHO Deputy Executive Director Zsuzsanna Yakab claimed, “in order to suppress the virus, it is essential that everyone be able to receive medical services without suffering financial difficulties” and urged countries to improve their medical systems.

The 2014 Ebola epidemic illustrated the difficulties in preventing diseases like Ebola, measles, malaria, and tuberculosis in vulnerable medical systems, and UNICEF Director Henrietta Fore highlighted the need to prepare for other infectious diseases during the coronavirus pandemic.

News article – Japan Broadcasting Corporation (NHK) (in Japanese)

Japan and Islamic Development Bank to provide more than US$1 billion in budget support to Bangladesh

The Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) and the Islamic Development Bank (IsDB) have agreed to provide support of US$1 billion and US$182 million respectively in budget support to meet Bangladesh’s growing expenditure needs during the COVID-19 pandemic.

JICA is working with officials from Japan's Economics Relations Division (ERD) to decide on how to allocate the budget support. Furthermore, the Islamic Development Bank (IsDB) will provide US$60 million in new funding and will redirect US$122 million from projects the Islamic Development Bank (IsDB) is already financing in the country.

While it normally provides project aid, JICA responded to Dhaka’s call for budget support as the COVID-19 pandemic worsens poverty in the country, and more than 1.5 million poor and vulnerable people have lost their livelihoods due to the shutdown. The budget aid will not affect ongoing financing to JICA-supported projects in Bangladesh. 

Bangladesh has also sought US$1.3 billion from the Asian Development Bank and US$500 million from the World Bank and the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank for next year’s budget, which includes a US$11.2 million (BDT956.2 billion) stimulus package.

The IsDB has also announced a US$2.3 billion package to support its 57 member countries tackle COVID-19.

News article – The Daily Star

Japan and the Islamic Development Bank to provide more than US$1 billion in budget support to Bangladesh

The Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) and the Islamic Development Bank (IsDB) have agreed to provide support of US$1 billion and US$182 million respectively in budget support to meet Bangladesh’s growing expenditure needs during the COVID-19 pandemic.

JICA is working with officials from Japan's Economics Relations Division (ERD) to decide on how to allocate the budget support. Furthermore, the Islamic Development Bank (IsDB) will provide US$60 million in new funding and will redirect US$122 million from projects the Islamic Development Bank (IsDB) is already financing in the country.

While it normally provides project aid, JICA responded to Dhaka’s call for budget support as the COVID-19 pandemic worsens poverty in the country, and more than 1.5 million poor and vulnerable people have lost their livelihoods due to the shutdown. The budget aid will not affect ongoing financing to JICA-supported projects in Bangladesh. 

Bangladesh has also sought US$1.3 billion from the Asian Development Bank and US$500 million from the World Bank and the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank for next year’s budget, which includes a US$11.2 million (BDT956.2 billion) stimulus package.

The IsDB has also announced a US$2.3 billion package to support its 57 member countries tackle COVID-19.

News article – The Daily Star