Policy Updates

Each week, Donor Tracker's team of country-based experts bring you the most important policy and funding news across issue areas in the form of Policy Updates.

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Japan contributes US$45 million to UNDP core resources

July 10, 2024 | Japan, Gender Equality | Share this update

On July 10, 2024, Japan announced a contribution of US$45 million to UNDP's core resources for 2024.

Japan's flexible support is vital for UNDP to address global challenges and crises, as outlined in the UNDP Strategic Plan 2022–2025. The funding will contribute to crisis prevention, conflict resolution, peace sustainability, human rights protection, and addressing the root causes of fragility within the context of human security.

Core resources from Japan and other partners are essential for UNDP’s operations, enabling impactful initiatives and programs that promote poverty eradication, gender equality, and the SDGs. These contributions ensure that UNDP can deliver on its mission to create a more equitable and prosperous world, leaving no one behind.

Press release - United Nations Development Programme

Japan provides additional funding to support social and economic development in Nauru

July 5, 2024 | Japan | Share this update

On July 5, 2024, Japan signed an agreement with Nauru to increase its contribution to supporting social and economic development by US$4 million, bringing its total commitment to US$13 million.

The contribution will support a project laying submarine cable to enhance Nauru’s connectivity. The project is part of a broader initiative to strengthen communication infrastructure and promote economic growth in the Federated States of Micronesia, the Republic of Kiribati, and the Republic of Nauru.

Originally announced in December 2021, the project is a collaborative effort between Japan, the US, and Australia.

Press release - Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Japan (in Japanese)

Japan hosts strategic dialogue on treatment for schistosomiasis

July 4, 2024 | Japan, Global Health | Share this update

On July 4, 2024, Japan hosted a strategic dialogue in Tokyo that brought together key stakeholders committed to ensuring preschool-aged children have access to a new pediatric treatment for schistosomiasis.

Schistosomiasis affects tens of millions globally, particularly in Africa, where 50 million preschool-aged children are thought to be at risk. The Pediatric Praziquantel Consortium developed a previously unavailable pediatric option, financially supported by various international partnerships. Recent milestones, including a positive opinion from the European Medicines Agency and WHO prequalification, have paved the way for broader access.

The Tokyo event was organized by Uniting Efforts, which is a joint initiative of the Japanese government, GHIT Fund, and the UNDP-led ADP. The meeting included representatives from the Pediatric Praziquantel Consortium, WHO, and several African countries. Japan’s long-term support in addressing neglected tropical diseases was highlighted, with officials emphasizing the need for equitable and sustainable patient access to the new treatment.

Stakeholders discussed the importance of collaboration, technical support, and resource mobilization for implementing the new treatment. Insights from pilot deployments in Tanzania and Uganda were shared, focusing on optimal delivery models, implementation protocols, and advocacy strategies. The dialogue underscored the necessity of inter-country knowledge exchange and a shared commitment to eliminating schistosomiasis as a public health problem by 2030.

Press release - The Access and Delivery Partnership

Japan provides US$6 million in medical supplies to Uzbekistan

July 3, 2024 | Japan, Global Health | Share this update

On July 3, 2024, Japan signed and exchanged letters with Uzbekistan to provide four medical containers worth JPY1 billion (US$6 million) as part of its Economic and Social Development Program.

In Uzbekistan, particularly in rural areas, medical facilities face shortages and outdated equipment, hindering timely and adequate medical care. Rising transportation costs further burden the rural poor, making it difficult to access necessary medical services in urban centers and forcing some to forego essential examinations and treatments.

The cooperation involves supplying four medical containers equipped with CT scanners, X-ray machines, and other medical equipment to rural Uzbekistan, facilitating mobile healthcare. This initiative is expected to enhance access to medical services for rural residents, strengthening the country’s overall healthcare system and contributing to its economic and social development.

Press release - Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Japan (in Japanese)

Japanese NGO pledges stronger partnership with ADB Group

July 2, 2024 | Japan, Climate | Share this update

On July 2, 2024, Japanese NGO Keizai Doyukai and the ADB Group convened in Tokyo to discuss enhancing private sector investment in Africa, with a particular focus on engaging youth.

Established in 2009, Keizai Doyukai’s Africa committee seeks to foster growth through increased trade and investment, reflecting a commitment to mutual development.

The meeting also addressed climate finance, critical minerals, and climate change adaptation. CEO of Shibusawa and Co. Ken Shibusawa highlighted the upcoming TICAD9 in 2025, emphasizing youth engagement as a major theme. Vice President of the ADB Group Kevin Kariuki highlighted Japan's recent US$10 million funding for the AGIA, which aims to make projects more attractive to private investors. The Bank Group’s chief economist, Kevin Urama, stressed that Africa's growth heavily depends on private sector involvement.

Shibusawa and Kariuki cited successful ventures, like the Menengai geothermal project in Kenya, to illustrate Japan's strengths. The ADB, with its deep ties in Africa, provides risk mitigation tools and advises Japanese investors in the region. Discussions also explored using Japanese development assistance to drive private infrastructure investment, demonstrating Keizai Doyukai’s ongoing efforts to bolster economic ties and private sector engagement in Africa.

Press release - African Development Bank Group

Japan provides US$5 million for development in Laos

June 26, 2024 | Japan, Education | Share this update

On June 26, 2024, Japan signed and exchanged notes with Laos for two grant projects totaling JPY753 million (US$5 million).

The first project, the Human Resource Development Scholarship, is planned to address Laos' complex development issues by supporting up to 21 young government officials to study at Japanese graduate schools, starting in 2025. The initiative aims to enhance the administrative capacity of Laos' government agencies and ministries, contributing to solving priority development issues and strengthening bilateral relations through human networks.

The second project focuses on accelerating the clearance of unexploded ordnance in the southern provinces of Laos, particularly Sekong, Salavan, and Champasak. There are an estimated 80 million unexploded ordnance units remaining from the Vietnam War. The project aims to support clearance activities to improve safety, expand agricultural land, and facilitate infrastructure development, to boost regional development and reduce unexploded ordnance-related casualties.

Press release - Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Japan

Japan marks 70 years of ODA

June 14, 2024 | Japan | Share this update

On June 14, 2024, Japan marked the 70th anniversary of its ODA program, which garnered global trust over the decades but faces new challenges.

In the late 1980s, Japan became the world’s largest ODA donor, emphasizing long-term, responsible support. This commitment is reflected in Japan’s high trust ratings among ASEAN nations, with 58.9% considering Japan the most trustworthy in the region, particularly with regard to respect for international law. Japanese ODA projects, such as urban rail systems in populous countries like India and Indonesia, underscore this reliability through sustained engagement from planning to maintenance, instilling confidence in partner countries.

Surveys reveal high trust in Japan across ASEAN, India, and Latin America, largely due to perceived friendly relations. Japan’s approach to ODA is characterized by bilateral engagement and cultural exchange, exemplified by the JICA programs, which send volunteers abroad and train foreign personnel in Japan. These interactions create a perception of Japan as a supportive partner, fostering self-reliance rather than dependency.

However, Japan faces challenges in leveraging this trust in the competitive international landscape. Despite its strong reputation, Japan lags behind the US and China in political and economic influence in the region. Addressing common issues like decarbonization and digital transformation through ‘co-creation’ with developing countries is emerging as a new strategy.

Japan’s ODA experience, grounded in its own post-war recovery, offers a unique perspective, but development advocates believe sustaining its influence will require adapting to contemporary global dynamics and reinforcing the tangible benefits of international cooperation to its domestic audience.

News article - Nikkei Shimbun (in Japanese)

Japan hosts public-private conference for restoration and reconstruction of Ukraine

June 11, 2024 | Japan, Agriculture, Climate | Share this update

On June 11, 2024, Japan hosted the Japan-Ukraine Public-Private Roundtable in Germany to discuss measures for the restoration and reconstruction of Ukraine, involving both public and private sectors.

Approximately 60 Japanese and Ukrainian companies participated in the conference. The meeting aimed to expand cooperation in fields such as agriculture, renewable energy, and housing construction.

In February 2024, during the Japan-Ukraine Conference for Promotion of Economic Growth and Reconstruction in Tokyo, the two countries agreed on seven key areas of support, including social infrastructure and demining. They signed over 50 cooperation agreements to facilitate specific forms of support.

The restoration of Ukraine’s agriculture is a critical focus, given that agricultural land accounts for 70% of Ukraine’s total land area. Japan plans to sign five memoranda of understanding to bolster Ukraine’s agricultural production. Companies including Yanmar Agribusiness Co. and Kubota Corp. discussed supplying agricultural machinery with Ukrainian authorities. Additionally, the Japanese government pledged to streamline customs clearance procedures to support these initiatives.

In the renewable energy sector, Japan and Ukraine aim to strengthen cooperation in developing wind power and other renewable sources. This initiative aligns with the broader goals discussed during the G7+ energy meeting held on June 11, 2024 in Berlin, Germany. Japanese Vice Minister of Economy, Trade, and Industry, Kazuchika Iwata, emphasized Japan’s commitment to supporting Ukraine’s energy needs and facilitating collaboration between companies from both nations.

During the Berlin conference, Iwata also met with Polish Special Representative for Ukraine Development Cooperation Pawel Kowal. They discussed enhancing collaboration between Japan and Poland in support of Ukraine’s reconstruction efforts, given Poland’s pivotal role in Ukraine’s recovery.

News article - The Japan NewsPress release - Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry (in Japanese)

Japan accelerates access to new treatments for neglected diseases

June 9, 2024 | Japan, Global Health R&D, Global Health | Share this update

On June 9, 2024, Japan global health officials and partners met to reach consensus on a new global health funding approach of targeted investment and early-stage access to accelerate access to new treatments for neglected diseases, focusing on a pediatric treatment for schistosomiasis, a tropical disease affecting around 50 million children.

The initiative followed approvals from the European Medicines Agency and the WHO. Key stakeholders, including Japan’s ministries of Foreign Affairs and Health, have strategized in Tokyo for the equitable distribution of the new medicine.

The Pediatric Praziquantel Consortium, led by Merck and initiated by Astellas Pharma in Japan, developed the schistosomiasis drug with support from the Japan-based GHIT Fund, the EDCTP, and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.

Collaborations with health ministries in Kenya, Ivory Coast, and Uganda have focused on understanding social dynamics and strengthening health systems to ensure readiness for the treatment’s rollout. Japan’s model of integrating research, development, and access aims to set a new standard for global health initiatives, prioritizing science, access, and equity to transform the global health landscape and save lives.

News article - Nikkei Asia

Japan provides US$12 million for medical equipment in Vietnam

May 29, 2024 | Japan, Global Health | Share this update

On May 29, 2024, Japan signed a US$12 million grant agreement with Vietnam to procure medical equipment for the country’s National Cancer Hospital.

Vietnam has experienced an epidemiological transition, where the leading cause of death has shifted from infectious diseases to non-communicable diseases.

The National Cancer Hospital is the country’s largest cancer center and sees nearly 400,000 patients each year. The grant will be used to enhance cancer diagnosis and prevention systems, while also contributing to UN SDG #3

Press release - Japan International Cooperation Agency

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US$ amounts are cited directly from sources; in the absence of an official conversion, they are calculated using the previous week's average of the US Federal Reserve's daily exchange rates.

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