It has been a tough year for global development. As many countries around the world turn away from foreign assistance, famine is declared in South Sudan, and the refugee crisis persists it is easy to feel that there is little hope for a world free of poverty.

Enter Japan.

Japan has long been engaged in global development. As one of the seven wealthiest countries in the world (i.e. - the G7), Japan is a major player in the global economy. Here are five ways that Japan is helping to create a more equitable and just world.

1.) Last month, Japan pledged $33.3 million to fight polio.

In a grand effort to protect millions of children from polio in Nigeria and the Lake Chad region, the Japanese government announced in February that it would grant $33.3 million in humanitarian emergency funding to UNICEF.

Last August, a year after Nigeria was declared “polio-free,” new cases popped up in areas affected by conflicts in the Borno State. The outbreak followed the large-scale movement of families coming from north-eastern Nigeria, an area inaccessible to health services.

In response to this emergency, Japan has provided funding from their supplementary budget envelope, which will go into purchasing polio vaccines, conducting house-to-house polio campaigns and supporting the current communication efforts to mobilize communities for vaccination in Nigeria, Chad, Niger, Cameroon and the Central African Republic.

2.) Last week, Japan provided $13 million to help feed 7 million people in desperate need in Yemen.

Two-thirds of people living in Yemen do not have enough food to eat. After two years of devastating conflict and decades of chronic food insecurity, the World Food Programme and other humanitarian partners are stepping up efforts to address food security in the region.

Read More: There's a Massive Famine in Africa. Here's How You Can Help.

“This contribution could not have come at a better time as WFP is doing its utmost to meet the urgent food needs of several million people each month,” said WFP Yemen Country Director Stephen Anderson. “Yemen is currently the world’s largest food insecurity emergency. WFP is extremely grateful to the people and the Government of Japan for this timely contribution that will substantially boost WFP efforts to get urgent food support to the people who need it most and help prevent the most vulnerable people in Yemen from slipping into famine.”

Preliminary results of a Yemen Emergency Food Security and Nutrition Assessment indicate that the number of food-insecure people has jumped by three million over the past seven months. Funding from Japan will play a key role in the emergency response in Yemen.

3.) Japan pledged to address global education in the Lake Chad region and Nigeria.

In February, Global Citizens called on key world leaders to attend the Oslo Humanitarian Conference and pledge their support for education and food security in the Lake Chad region. Japan pledged $48 million dollars to support the humanitarian response!

Read More: Children Are Starving and Out of School. And No One Is Talking About It.

Nearly 11 million people are urgently in need of assistance as a consequence of conflict waged by the world’s largest terrorist group, Boko Haram in the area. Over half of those people are children, whose young lives and futures are threatened by severe malnutrition and missing out on an education.  Many of their schools have been targeted by Boko Haram to try and remove hope and learning from their communities.

The conference helped leverage $672 million dollars in support through pledges from Denmark, European Union, Finland, France, Germany, Ireland, Italy, Japan, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, Norway, Republic of Korea, Sweden, and Switzerland.  These funds can help rebuild schools, get children back in classrooms and learning, and provide them the nourishment they need to learn and grow.

4.) And let’s talk about the 2016 G7.

At the 2015 G7 in Germany, world leaders committed to lift 500 million people out of hunger and malnutrition by 2030. But, there wasn’t a plan established for how this goal would be met.

Read More: What Is the Global Food Security Act?

Global Citizen flew to Ise-Shima Japan last year as world leaders converged for the 2016 G7 to ask a simple question, how will the Japanese G7 ensure that all countries are held accountable to their promise to lift 500 million people out of hunger and malnutrition by 2030?

G7 leaders promised to take steps to be accountable to the world’s poor. For example, G7 leaders committed to focus their efforts on vulnerable populations and to share their reports with civil society. In December, the Government of Japan released an accountability framework on food and nutrition security.

Japan even launched an International Symposium on Food Security and Nutrition as well as an 'Initiative for Food and Nutrition Security in Africa' to take concrete steps to lift millions out of hunger and malnutrition.

5.) Japan contributed $100 million to global vaccination programs last year.

In May, the government of Japan agreed to contribute a further $76 million to support childhood immunization in developing countries. This funding will help immunize a further 300 million children by 2020, helping to save up to six million lives. And, this pledge is in addition to the $18.5 million that Japan pledged in February to help address measles and rubella globally.

Read More: Japan Commits $100M in Global Push for Vaccines

Japan has been a leader in working toward a world where every single person has access to health care. Prime Minister Abe spoke about Japan’s leadership in universal health coverage at the Global Citizen Festival in 2015.

Japan’s generosity and commitment to ending extreme poverty is remarkable. As a true leader in development assistance, Japan is on the frontlines working toward a world without extreme poverty.

To achieve a world where every child has access to education, food security, and health coverage by 2030 all countries - including Japan - must do more. This year, we are asking Japan to continue its leadership on humanitarian issues by supporting the Education Cannot Wait fund for Education in emergencies and helping to provide education to children affected by conflict and natural disaster to save and rebuild their lives. Global Citizens are also looking to Japan to be a leader on nutrition at the 2017 G7 meetings. Building off its recent $33M emergency funding pledge, new and sustained funding from Japan in 2017 will be key in stopping polio transmission and reaching zero cases of polio by the end of the year. Further, the convening of the G20 this July will be a key opportunity for Japan and other countries to take concrete steps to achieving global health security by funding pandemic prevention efforts.     

Together, we will work toward a world without extreme poverty.

Take Action: Tell Leaders How Important Education in Emergencies Is


Demand Equity

5 Ways Japan Is Stepping Up to Make the World a Better Place

By Judith Rowland