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Interview | Katsunobu Kato Looks At Japan-India Cooperation in Pharmaceuticals Security 

Risks of pharmaceutical supply chain disruptions from another pandemic or a Taiwan contingency are a growing concern, according to Minister Katsunobu Kato.



Minister of Health, Labor, and Welfare Katsunobu Kato (center) takes questions from Indian journalists during a visit to the northwestern Indian state of Gujarat, Gandhinagar (©JAPAN Forward by Yasuo Naito).

Katsunobu Kato, Minister of Health, Labour, and Welfare, visited India for the G20 Health Ministers' Meeting in Gandhinagar. After the meeting on August 19, he sat down for an interview with The Sankei Shimbun and JAPAN Forward. In it, Minister Kato spoke about the pharmaceutical trade between Japan and India. 

The minister indicated that he would like to deepen discussions with Indian pharmaceutical officials on cooperation in the pharmaceutical sector. Among the specific topics he raised was the importance of active pharmaceutical ingredients (APIs). Kato also revealed that he is considering Japan-India cooperation in medicine in terms of economic security.

Currently, Japan is heavily reliant on China for raw materials essential for pharmaceuticals. Consequently, the debate over the "security aspect of pharmaceuticals" is expected to continue.

Minister Kato commented, "Japan is facing the challenge of securing a stable supply of pharmaceuticals. We import a considerable amount from India, including raw materials for medicines. I would like to visit an Indian pharmaceutical company's plant in Hyderabad and have a deeper discussion with the company's executives."

There are concerns about securing the supply chain for both the raw ingredients and the manufacturing process for many drugs and medical treatments. (courtesy of Shionogi Co Ltd)

Stable Supply Chain Concerns

During the COVID-19 pandemic, production of some drugs was temporarily suspended due to a delay in the supply of antibiotics and other APIs from China. Because of this, a stable supply of pharmaceuticals has become a pressing issue in the industry. 

International tensions due to the outbreak of another infectious disease or a Taiwan contingency are significant risk factors. Moreover, either one could halt the supply of APIs. 

Such a disruption would once again threaten the stable supply of pharmaceuticals. As a consequence, there are now calls for measures to be taken to address this situation.

The Buddha statue in Hyderabad, India. (Via Wikimedia Commons.)

Dynamism in India's High-Tech Capital

Hyderabad, located in south-central India, is known as India's "high-tech capital." The city is also home to some of the world's largest information technology (IT) companies. 

Minister Kato visited several Indian companies on August 21 before returning to Japan.

In addition, at the G20 Health Ministers' Meeting, ministers of the various countries exchanged opinions on several globally significant measures. Measures to supply vaccines and treatments for infectious disease crises and digitalization were among them. 

Minister Kato said, "Japan is also working on various initiatives. We will do our best to keep up with the global trend." 



(Read the report in Japanese.)

Author: Yasuo Naito, Reporting from Gandhinagar, Northwest India

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