Seminar and Roundtable on US-Japan Cooperation on Global Health

October 7, 2009

Dr. Harvey Fineberg, president of the Institute of Medicine and former dean of the Harvard School of Public Health, visited Tokyo to advocate for US-Japan joint efforts on global health issues in the developing world in the wake of the change in both countries’ governments. JCIE organized two meetings as part of its Global Health and Human Security program.

Breakfast Roundtable with Harvey Fineberg

At an October 7, 2009, bipartisan breakfast roundtable with prominent Japanese politicians from both the upper and lower houses of the Diet, Dr. Fineberg stressed his conviction that it is only by working together that the United States and Japan can set a new standard for effective, successful development assistance that contributes to the world’s benefit and ultimately to the added security of both countries. He argued that a holistic approach—including not only political and economic dimensions but also social dimensions, such as health—is essential to ensuring an improvement in the global standard of living and is the key to maintaining and augmenting Japan’s influence abroad. Participants in the roundtable included Yoko Komiyama (DPJ), Tsuyoshi Yamaguchi (DPJ), and Taro Kono (LDP) from the House of Representatives and Yoshimasa Hayashi (LDP) and Ichita Yamamoto (LDP) from the House of Councillors.

Seminar on US-Japan Cooperation on Global Health

After the breakfast roundtable, Dr. Fineberg, spoke at a seminar organized by JCIE on ways in which the new governments in the United States and Japan could reshape bilateral cooperation on global health issues, stressing important relationships with both the private sector and the developing world. His presentation was followed by comments from Kiyoshi Kurokawa, chairman of the Health Policy Institute, Japan; Seth Berkeley, president and founder of the International AIDS Vaccine Initiative; and Kenji Shibuya, a University of Tokyo professor. Dr. Fineberg shared the findings of his institute’s recent report on the strengths and weaknesses in the role of the United States in global health and in international affairs, which he felt also applied to Japan’s role. Key findings in the report included an inadequate degree of coordination between the public and private sectors; inadequate financial commitment to global health and development; an imbalance of resources in relation to the actual needs and opportunities in target countries; and insufficient attention to health systems, human capital, and innovative solutions. He also identified several opportunities for a future of greater success through cooperation between the United States and Japan and advocated for the development of a knowledge-sharing strategy, investment in capacity building, an increase in financial commitments to global health, and a higher degree of coordination between the public and private sectors and between and within governments and government agencies. He added that real leadership and success on the part of collaborating and donor agencies, governments, and institutions requires a shift in mentality—an expression of willingness not only to coordinate but to be coordinated.

The seminar was attended by upper-level bureaucrats from the foreign, finance, and health ministries; prominent academics; and representatives from major Japanese NGOs and research institutes.