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JP 4.21

Japan focuses its official development assistance (ODA) with middle-income countries (MICs) in Asia but is showing more of a strategic focus in Africa with the foreign policy, the Free and Open Indo-Pacific Strategy. During its G7 Presidency in 2016 Japan put a strong emphasis on health, women’s empowerment, and stabilization of the Middle East. Since 2017 an emphasis has been placed on universal health coverage (UHC), which continued with its G20 presidency in 2019. Mental health is included in the current global health strategy, and Japan supports psychosocial programmes in humanitarian contexts.


Global mental health support

Japan’s interest in mental health and psychosocial support (MHPSS) in humanitarian contexts stems from their own experience with natural disasters. The Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) has used this experience to assist other countries that experience natural disasters such as the Philippines and Sri Lanka. 

Japan has funded the project, Supporting Psychosocial Health and Resilience in Liberia, a three-year initiative that addresses the psychological effects of Liberia’s Ebola crisis and promotes psychosocial health in the country. This is funded by Japan through the Japan Social Development Fund, a trust fund administered by the World Bank. 

Japan (JICA) is also a member of the MHPSS donor group.


Strategy for global mental health

Mental health is included in Japan’s global health policy as a component of UHC, and as a health issue that needs to be addressed.

Domestic mental health

Japan wants to invest in reducing suicide rates within the country and in dementia. According to the Health Ministry, 4.6 million people are suffering from some form of dementia, with the total expected to increase to about 7.3 million people – or one in five Japanese aged 65 or over – by 2025. 

For more information, see WHO Mental Health Atlas 2017 Country Profile and further resources WHO MiNDbank.

Key stakeholders

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MOFA) sets development policy. Within MOFA sits the International Cooperation Bureau (ICB) which is responsible for designing development policy and responsible for foreign policy issues related to human security, global health, social and economic affairs, humanitarian assistance and the dispatch of Japanese disaster relief teams

Japan Agency for International Cooperation (JICA) works on the implementation of development projects 

Member of APEC and contributes to the APEC Digital Hub for Mental Health.

Key decision makers

Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga 

Ministry of Foreign Affairs: Foreign Minister Toshimitsu Motegi

Minister of Finance and Deputy Prime Minister: Taro Aso 

The Ministry of Health, Labor, and Welfare (MHLW), led by Katsunobu Kato  is a strong advocate of Japan taking a leadership role in global health. 

Financing global mental health

According to IHME data, from 2007-2019 Japan contributed USD $11.3 million in development assistance to mental health (DAMH). This figure is only representative of government resources.


Global health overview

In 2016 Japan was ranked fifth largest global health donor in net terms (US $ 871 million ODA for health, 5% of total ODA).

Japan has made pledges and contributions to the following to global initiatives:

JP 4.21