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Health in Japan

health in japanese, health in japan
The level of health in Japan is due to a number of factors including cultural habits, isolation, and a universal health care system John Creighton Campbell, professor at the University of Michigan and Tokyo University, told the New York Times in 2009 that Japanese people are the healthiest group on the planet1 Japanese visit a doctor nearly 14 times a year, more than four times as often as Americans Life expectancy in 2013 was 833 years - among the highest on the planet 2


  • 1 Chronic illness
  • 2 Suicide problem
  • 3 Smoking
  • 4 Alcohol and health issues
  • 5 Access to care
  • 6 Cultural influences
  • 7 AIDS
  • 8 Environment and disease
  • 9 See also
  • 10 References
  • 11 Further reading

Chronic illnessedit

Obesity in Japan in 2014 was about 33%, about 10% of that in USA, presumably because of the Japanese diet It has the lowest rate of heart disease in the OECD, and the lowest level of dementia in the developed world3

Suicide problemedit

Main article: Suicide in Japan

Japan's suicide rate is high compared to the USA; the Yomiuri Shimbun reported in June 2008 that more than 30,000 people had killed themselves every year for the past decade A study published in 2006 suspects that health problems were a factor in almost 50 percent of the Japan's suicides in 20064 However the Yomiuri's 2007 figures show 274 school children were among those who took their own lives Bullying is often a factor in such cases In 2011, suicide remained over 30,000 for the 14th year running5


E-Goyomi Lady Smoking woodblock print dating between 1700 and 1800 Main article: Smoking in Japan

One of the biggest public health issues is smoking in Japan, which according to Tadao Kakizoe honorary president of the National Cancer Center kills more than 100,000 people per year and is responsible for one in ten deaths6

Alcohol and health issuesedit

A team led by Professor Osaki of Tottori University estimated the social cost of excessive drinking in Japan to be 415 trillion yen a year7

Access to careedit

Main articles: Health care system in Japan and National Health Insurance Japan

In Japan, services are provided either through regional/national public hospitals or through private hospitals/clinics, and patients have universal access to any facility, though hospitals tend to charge higher for those without a referral However space can be an issue in some regions More than 14,000 emergency patients were rejected at least three times by Japanese hospitals before getting treatment in 2007, according to the latest government survey In the worst case, a woman in her 70s with a breathing problem was rejected 49 times in Tokyo8 Public health insurance covers most citizens/residents and pays 70% or more cost for each care and each prescribed drug Patients are responsible for the remainder upper limits apply The monthly insurance premium is 0–50,000 JPY per household scaled to annual income Supplementary private health insurance is available only to cover the co-payments or non-covered costs, and usually makes a fixed payment per days in hospital or per surgery performed, rather than per actual expenditure In 2005, Japan spent 82% of GDP on health care, or US$2,908 per capita Of that, approximately 83% was government expenditure

Cultural influencesedit

Traditional Chinese medicine was introduced to Japan with other elements of Chinese culture during the 5th to 9th century Since around 1900, Chinese-style herbalists have been required to be licensed medical doctors Training was professionalized and, except for East Asian healers, was based on a biomedical model of disease However, the practice of bio medicine was influenced as well by Japanese social organization and cultural expectations concerning education, the organization of the workplace, and social relations of status and dependency, decision-making styles, and ideas about the human body, causes of illness, gender, individualism, and privacy Anthropologist Emiko Ohnuki-Tierney notes that "daily hygienic behavior and its underlying concepts, which are perceived and expressed in terms of biomedical germ theory, in fact are directly tied to the basic Japanese symbolic structure"

Western medicine was introduced to Japan with the Rangaku studies during the Edo period A number of books on pharmacology and anatomy were translated from Dutch and Latin to Japanese During the Meiji period late 19th century, the Japanese health care system was modeled after the model of Western bio medicine At that time, western doctors came to Japan to create medical faculties at the newly built Japanese universities, and students also went abroad Innovations like vaccines were introduced to Japan, improving average life expectancy From the Meiji period through the end of World War II, German was a mandatory foreign language for Japanese students of medicine Patient charts in Japanese teaching hospitals were even written in German

But even today, a person who becomes ill in Japan has a number of alternative options One may visit a priest, or send a family member in his or her place There are numerous folk remedies, including hot springs baths onsen and chemical and herbal over-the-counter medications A person may seek the assistance of traditional healers, such as herbalists, masseurs, and acupuncturists


Main article: HIV/AIDS in Japan

Although the number of AIDS cases remained small by international standards, public health officials were concerned in the late 1980s about the worldwide epidemic of acquired immune deficiency syndrome AIDS The first confirmed case of AIDS in Japan was reported in 1985 By 1991 there were 553 reported cases, and by April 1992 the number had risen to 2,077 While frightened by the deadliness of the disease yet sympathetic to the plight of hemophiliac AIDS patients, most Japanese are unconcerned with contracting AIDS themselves Various levels of government responded to the introduction of AIDS awareness into the heterosexual population by establishing government committees, mandating AIDS education, and advising testing for the general public without targeting special groups A fund, underwritten by pharmaceutical companies that distributed imported blood products, was established in 1988 to provide financial compensation for AIDS patients

Environment and diseaseedit

Main article: Four Big Pollution Diseases of Japan

See alsoedit

  • 2009 flu pandemic in Japan
  • Aging of Japan
  • Erwin Bälz—an oyatoi gaikokujin and cofounder of modern medicine in Japan
  • Health care compared—tabular comparisons with the US, Canada, and other countries not shown above
  • Public health centres in Japan
  • Radiation effects from Fukushima Daiichi nuclear disaster
  • Social welfare in Japan


  1. ^ Arnquist, Sarah 25 August 2009 "Health Care Abroad: Japan" The New York Times 
  2. ^ Britnell, Mark 2015 In Search of the Perfect Health System London: Palgrave p 5 ISBN 978-1-137-49661-4 
  3. ^ Britnell, Mark 2015 In Search of the Perfect Health System London: Palgrave p 18 ISBN 978-1-137-49661-4 
  4. ^ Carl Freire, "Japan's suicide rate remains high", Associated Press, November 9, 2007
  5. ^ "GKB47 suicide prevention slogan inspired by AKB48 criticized ‹ Japan Today: Japan News and Discussion" Japantodaycom 2012-02-07 Retrieved 2013-10-14 
  6. ^ Yomiuri Shimbun, 8/9/2008 Cited in Scott, Doug "Japanese Delegation Visits AAPA to Learn about PA Profession" AAPA News, July 15, 2008, p 5 Accessed 2 December 2009
  7. ^ "The Japan News - Breaking News from Japan by The Yomiuri Shimbun" Yomiuricojp Retrieved 2013-10-14 
  8. ^ Yamaguchi, Mari "Injured Man Dies After Rejection by 14 Hospitals" ABC News Associated Press, February 4, 2009 Accessed 2 December 2009

Further readingedit

  • "Law concerning Health and Medical Services for the Aged" Japan: An Illustrated Encyclopedia Tokyo: Kodansha Ltd 1993 p 881 ISBN 4-06-931098-3 OCLC 27812414 
  • "Livelihood Protection Law" Japan: An Illustrated Encyclopedia Tokyo: Kodansha Ltd 1993 p 897 ISBN 4-06-931098-3 OCLC 27812414 
  • "medical and health insurance" Japan: An Illustrated Encyclopedia Tokyo: Kodansha Ltd 1993 p 941 ISBN 4-06-931098-3 OCLC 27812414 
  • "medical expenses" Japan: An Illustrated Encyclopedia Tokyo: Kodansha Ltd 1993 p 941 ISBN 4-06-931098-3 OCLC 27812414 
  • "medicine" Japan: An Illustrated Encyclopedia Tokyo: Kodansha Ltd 1993 pp 941–3 ISBN 4-06-931098-3 OCLC 27812414 
  • "medicine, traditional" Japan: An Illustrated Encyclopedia Tokyo: Kodansha Ltd 1993 p 943 ISBN 4-06-931098-3 
  • "National Health Insurance" Japan: An Illustrated Encyclopedia Tokyo: Kodansha Ltd 1993 p 1058 ISBN 4-06-931098-3 
  • Reid, T R 2009 The Healing of America: A Global Quest for Better, Cheaper, and Fairer Health Care New York: Penguin Press ISBN 978-1-59420-234-6 OCLC 314597097  See in particular Chapter 6 "Japan: Bismark on Rice", pp 82–124; this book is a further expansion of Reid's 2008 stories
  • Campbell, John Creighton, and Naoki Ikegami The Art of Balance in Health Policy: Maintaining Japan's Low-Cost, Egalitarian System New York: 1998 ISBN 0-521-57122-7

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