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Healthy Aging Prize for Asian Innovation open for applications to address demographic shift

The Asian Health and Wellbeing Initiative (AHWIN) extended the application deadline for the 2022 Health Aging Prize for Asian Innovation to May 31, 2022. 

East and Southeast Asian nations are experiencing rapid population aging and are in need of innovative solutions to address a wide range of challenges. The Healthy Aging Prize for Asian Innovation was first awarded in 2020 and aims to recognize and amplify initiatives specifically focused on aging. Innovations must fall within one of three categories: technology and innovation, community-based initiatives, or supporting self-reliance.

Press release – Asian Health and Wellbeing Initiative 

Japan provides US$10 million grant to respond to food crisis in Yemen

The Japanese government will provide the World Food Program (WFP) with US$10 million to help respond to the food crisis in Yemen.

Yemen has endured conflict for more than seven years and is facing major food shortages. These shortages have been further exasperated by rising food prices due to the Russian invasion of Ukraine. Over the years, Japan has actively assisted Yemen and is committed to helping realize peace and stability in the country.

Press release – Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Japan 

Japan signs US$439 million loan agreement with Thailand to support COVID-19 response

The Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) signed a ¥50 billion (US$439 million) loan agreement with Thailand as part of its COVID-19 Crisis Response Emergency Support Loan program.

The loan will be used to strengthen the healthcare system as Thailand addresses the COVID-19 crisis and will help support vulnerable populations who have been affected by the pandemic. 

Japan also announced a ¥500 million (US$4.4 million) grant to equip Suvarnabhumi International Airport, four border quarantine stations, and hospitals with resources to support quarantine, border control, and diagnosis and treatment of infectious diseases.

News article – NNA Asia (in Japanese)

Press release – Japan International Cooperation Agency 

Press release – Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Japan 

Japan reaffirms support for SDGs at 7th Multi-stakeholder Forum on Science, Technology and Innovation

Japan reaffirmed its commitment to strengthening international partnerships to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) by 2030 at the 7th Multi-stakeholder Forum on Science, Technology and Innovation for SDGs.

Japan has been involved in galvanizing science and technology to tackle problems in low- and middle- income countries as part of the Science and Technology Research Partnership for Sustainable Development (SATREPS) since 2008. SATREPS combines research funding and ODA to develop solutions for local and global communities. Many of these efforts have focused on reducing the impact of climate change.

Japan is also a strong supporter of the Global Pilot Programme on STI4SDGs Roadmaps and called on UN member states to align their national action plans with the initiative. 

Press release – Permanent Mission of Japan to the United Nations

Japan’s Kishida commits to post-COVID-19 recovery, tackling climate change

Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida spoke in London about the need for a new form of capitalism and his government’s plan to address global issues. In his speech, Kishida reconfirmed Japan’s commitment to post-pandemic recovery in Asia and beyond and to tackling climate change.

Prior to visiting London, Kishida was in Vietnam and Thailand where he announced loans and grant assistance for strengthening healthcare systems and climate change countermeasures. He also reiterated Japan’s commitment to energy diversification and introducing renewable energy. 

News article – Nikkei Asia

Speeches and Statements - Government of Japan

Japan commits US$171 million to Vietnam to address climate change, promote development

Japan will provide Vietnam with an ¥18.9 billion (US$166 million) loan for climate change countermeasures and ¥550 million (US$5 million) in grant assistance for social and economic development.

The loan will be used to acquire the necessary equipment for earth observation satellites and to provide training on how to use satellite data. The goal of the project is to enhance Vietnam’s ability to respond to disasters and climate change. The grant assistance will be used to train engineers in the manufacturing industry to promote domestic industries and development.

Press release – Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Japan

Japan provides 100,000 doses of COVID-19 vaccines to Sierra Leone through COVAX

The Japanese government announced it would provide 100,000 doses of COVID-19 vaccines manufactured in Japan to Sierra Leone.

The vaccines were donated through the COVAX facility and will arrived on April 29, 2022.

Press release – Ministry of Foreign Affairs Japan

Japan commits US$117 million to Ukraine for emergency economic recovery, medical system development

In response to the Russian invasion of Ukraine, the Japanese government will provide Ukraine with an Emergency Economic Reconstruction Development Policy Loan of up to ¥13 billion (US$114 million) and an Economic and Social Development Programme Grant of up to ¥300 million (US$2.6 million).

The emergency loan is being financed through the International Bank for Reconstruction and Development and will support a variety of institutional reforms in the economic field to contribute to economic stabilization.

The grant assistance will be used to strengthen the Ukrainian health system in light of the COVID-19 pandemic and the Russian invasion.

Press release – Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Japan

Business leaders urge Japan's Kishida to strengthen global health initiatives

A volunteer group of business leaders supporting global health initiatives in Japan met with Prime Minister Kishida and presented a proposal entitled, “Global Health as a New Growth Industry for Japan”. The proposal called on the government to double its health-related ODA commitments and to include global health as a pillar of the “new capitalism” plan.

The group of business leaders made the following specific requests:

  • Double Japan’s health-related ODA by 2025 compared to 2020 (excluding COVID-19 expenditures);
  • Establish a cooperative framework in which companies would be consulted on the country’s global health strategy;
  • Take on a greater leadership role in promoting a framework for international cooperation that would lead to discussions on related policies, deregulation, and regulatory harmonization;
  • Establish a cross-ministry organization to support the international procurement of Japanese products, especially in low- and middle-income countries;
  • Promote a global standard such as the Impact Weighted Accounts Framework so that investors can better evaluate companies that aim to solve global issues;
  • Cooperate with the private sector to establish a system for professional development in global health;

The requests come in wake of the COVID-19 pandemic that has highlighted the importance of global health. While Japan has been a major donor in the global health arena, the group suggests that it could increase its support and work with private corporations to strengthen healthcare systems.

News article – PR Times (in Japanese)

Recent government survey reveals widespread public support for Japanese health diplomacy, development cooperation in Africa

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs Japan conducted a public opinion survey on the country’s diplomacy. The results demonstrated broad public support for global health diplomacy and development on the African continent.

Nearly 90% of respondents stated that they think it is necessary for Japan to provide international assistance in response to global health issues such as the COVID-19 pandemic. On the topic of the upcoming Tokyo International Conference on African Development (TICAD), respondents identified ‘cooperation to end poverty’, ‘contributions to peace and stability’, and ‘strengthening cooperation within the international community’ as the three most important focal points for Japan.

Press release – Ministry of Foreign Affairs Japan

Japan set to implement Comprehensive Agriculture Master Plan in South Sudan

The Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) is implementing a long-term agricultural plan in South Sudan after launching the project in 2012.

The plan, formally known as the Comprehensive Agricultural Development Master Plan (CAMP) Implementation Support Project, addresses food insecurity and focuses on five key areas: crops, forestry, livestock, fisheries, and institutional development. Japan contributed over US$22 million in official development assistance (ODA) to South Sudan in 2020, and more than 30 JICA experts have been working on the ground to plan and implement the project.

JICA will work with local producers and government officials to improve food security and value-added crop cultivation. The project is expected to also contribute to stability in the country.

Press release – Japan International Cooperation Agency

Germany commits US$441 million to COVAX at Gavi's 'Break COVID Now' Summit

On April 8, 2022, Germany, together with Ghana, Indonesia, and Senegal, co-costed Gavi’s digital 'Break COVID Now' Summit with the goal of raising US$5.2 billion in funding for COVAX, the vaccines pillar of the Access to COVID-19 Tools (ACT) Accelerator. Falling US$400 million short of the funding goal, a total of US$4.8 billion was committed during the summit.

This includes funding worth US$1.7 billion from sovereign donors, US$2.1 billion via new innovative financial mechanisms provided by the European Investment Bank and the United States Development Finance Corporation, and US$1.0 billion of funding by multilateral development banks.

Germany pledged US$441 (€400 million) to COVAX, of which US$386 million (€350 million) will go to Gavi and US$55 million (€50 million) to UNICEF. The pledge is part of a broader US$1.2 billion funding package for the ACT-Accelerator, which Germany announced at the beginning of March of 2022, but is still pending cabinet and parliamentary approval.

COVAX will deploy these commitments to strengthen the vaccine logistics in the partner countries, including, for example, improving cooling conditions for vaccine doses and investing in health personnel and equipment. Further, the funding will contribute to establishing a Pandemic Vaccine Pool that stands ready to be activated if new and threatening COVID-19 variants emerge and to supply partner countries with variant-adopted vaccines.

Additional information on all donors at the Summit can be found here

Press release – Gavi 

Press release – Federal Ministry of Economic Cooperation and Development (in German) 

Japan provides US$200 million loan to Afreximbank for COVID-19 relief efforts

The Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) signed a loan agreement for up to US$200 million with the African Export-Import Bank (Afreximbank).

Afreximbank is a financial development institution composed of 51 member states which support African countries throughout the COVID-19 pandemic. Specifically, Afreximbank has provided loans to increase local capacities for manufacturing vaccines and medical products.

The COVID-19 pandemic has had a major impact on gross domestic product (GDP) growth in Africa, with decreases of 1.7% and 1.1% in Sub-Saharan Africa and North Africa respectively. The COVID-19 crisis also highlighted insufficient medical infrastructure and access to medical and pharmaceutical products throughout the continent.

The loan will be used to develop manufacturing lines, supply bases, and medical and health facilities.

Press release – Japan International Cooperation Agency

Japan reaffirms commitment to support women and girls at UN Women Donor Roundtable and G7 Care Work Conference

Kentaro Uesugi, Parliamentary Vice-Minister for Foreign Affairs of Japan, attended the third UN Women Donor Roundtable and the G7 Care Work Conference to reaffirm Japan’s commitment to supporting women and girls.

Uesugi participated as a panelist at the G7 Care Work Conference where he stated that Japan intends on continuing to support development cooperation to reduce the burden of unpaid work for women. He also committed to working with UN Women to achieve gender equality in Japan and internationally.

Gender equality remains one of Japan’s key ODA policies, and the country has made significant contributions over the past few years, including US$3 billion from 2016 to 2018.

Press release – Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Japan

Japan establishes new institution to deploy vaccines during crises, allocates US$1.8 billion for R&D

The Japanese government established the Strategic Center of Biomedical Advanced Vaccine Research and Development for Preparedness and Response (SCARDA), a new institution responsible for delivering safe and effective vaccines during public health emergencies. The government also announced plans to invest ¥51.5 billion (US$452 million) to prepare development sites and ¥150.4 billion(US$1.3 billion) for vaccine research and development (R&D).

SCARDA will support public-private partnerships and provide quick, flexible funding during emergencies. The organization’s goal is to achieve the Group of 7’s “100 Days Mission” of deploying safe and effective diagnostics, therapeutics, and vaccines within 100 days of a pandemic.

News article – The Japan Times

JICA appoints Akihiko Tanaka as new president

Akihiko Tanaka returned to the top post of the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) on April 1, 2022, taking over as President from Shinichi Kitaoka.

Akihiko is a specialist in international politics and previously held the post of President from 2012 - 2015. He was formerly a professor and Executive Vice President of the University of Tokyo. Prior to his appointment as President of JICA, he was President of the National Graduate Institute for Policy Studies (GRIPS), Japan.

Upon his appointment, Akihiko reinforced Japan’s commitment to addressing new global challenges, as well as to actively contributing to the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

Press release – Japan International Cooperation Agency

Japan ends ODA projects in China after US$31.6 billion over 40 years, focuses on collaboration as equal partners

The Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) ended all official development assistance (ODA) projects in China after contributing ¥3.6 trillion (US$31.6 billion) over the past 40 years. In 2018, then Prime Minister Shinzo Abe announced that Japan would be ending its ODA projects in China and would instead focus on cooperating as equal partners.

Since 1979, Japan implemented several projects related to health care, infrastructure development, agriculture, and environmental management and conservation. More recently, JICA focused on Technical Cooperation Projects in the areas of pollution, infectious diseases, and food safety.

News article – The Asahi Shimbun

Press release – Japan International Cooperation Agency

Japan’s GHIT Fund announces US$6 million investment for malaria treatments, vaccines

The Tokyo-based Global Health Innovative Technology (GHIT) Fund announced a US$6 million investment in three partnerships to develop malaria treatments and vaccines.

  • US$4 million for the development of monoclonal antibodies for malaria prevention;
  • US$604,000 for the development of next-generation multistage/multispecies malaria vaccines; and,
  • US$1 million for the identification of lead compound series with antimalarial activity.

GHIT Fund aims to create international partnerships between leaders in innovation and low-income countries to fight against infectious diseases and poverty. The fund’s portfolio consists of 61 ongoing projects and US$239 million in investments.

Press release – Global Health Innovative Technology Fund

Japan contributes US$42 million to UNDP to advance climate change mitigation, adaptation

Japan contributed US$42 million to the United Nations Development Programme to advance climate change mitigation and adaptation in 23 countries and territories. The move makes Japan the newest and largest donor in the next phase of the UNDP’s Climate Promise initiative.

The UNDP Climate Promise aims to assist countries in establishing and meeting their Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs) by engaging with multi-sector stakeholders. The initiative currently operates in 120 countries, 94 of which have submitted their NDCs to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC). 

The funds will be used to support countries across the Asia Pacific, Europe, Central Asia, and African regions to develop clean energy solutions, net-zero strategies, and resilience against the impacts of climate change.  

Press Release – United Nations Development Programme 

Japanese survey finds 72.2% of respondents support increased ODA for global healthcare

Friends of the Global Fund, Japan launched a survey which found that 72.2% of respondents believe that official development assistance (ODA) for infectious diseases and healthcare should be increased.

The survey, entitled “Japan's International Cooperation for Infectious Diseases,” aimed to elucidate changes in the public's understanding of infectious diseases and international cooperation in light of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The survey results were released at the same time as the Japanese government announced an 8.9% reduction in ODA for the 2022 fiscal year. Despite being one of the world’s leading ODA contributors, Japan has been criticized for failing to meet the United Nations’ target of allocating 0.7% of its gross national income (GNI) to ODA.

Press release – Friends of the Global Fund, Japan (in Japanese)