With the development of transportation infrastructure, increased cross-border interaction and changing social environment, there is a growing need for regional cooperation in the areas of health and welfare. Trilateral cooperation on health issues serves many purposes, including the dealing of health challenges that do not stop at national borders, exchanging knowledge and best practices, developing region-wide schemes for effectively preventing and combating diseases, and helping to improve the overall health situation in the Northeast Asian region. In response to the need for trilateral cooperation in the field of health and welfare, the three governments established the Tripartite Health Ministers Meeting (THMM) as well as various cooperative measures to tackle common health threats, highlighted by the Memorandum of Cooperation (MOC) and Joint Action Plan (JAP) on Preparedness and response against Pandemic Influenza and Emerging/Re-emerging Infectious Disease of Common Concern.
The THMM was inaugurated in 2007 to discuss common issues in health and medical field among the three countries and ways to manage such challenges. The Meeting is regularly held among the National Health and Family Planning Commission (NHFPC) of the People’s Republic of China, Ministry of Health, Labour and Welfare (MHLW) of Japan, and the Ministry of Health and Welfare (MOHW) of the Republic of Korea on a rotational basis. Under the framework of the THMM, the three countries have developed various initiatives such as the Trilateral Forum on Communicable Disease Control and Prevention and the Trilateral High-Level Meeting and Policy Seminar on Aging. Since its first participation to the THMM in 2013, the TCS has been exploring ways to assist the three relevant ministries for its contribution to the development of trilateral cooperation under the THMM.