Health in Japan

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This article is about Health in Japan. For the health care system see Health care system 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 planet.[1] Japanese visit a doctor nearly 14 times a year, more than four times as often as Americans.

Practising physicians per capita in Japan from 1960 to 2008, with a gradual increase occurring

Suicide problem[edit]

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 2006.[2] 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 running.[3]

Smoking[edit]

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 deaths.[4]

Alcohol and health issues[edit]

A team led by Professor Osaki of Tottori University estimated the social cost of excessive drinking in Japan to be 4.15 trillion yen a year.[5]

Access to care[edit]

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 Tokyo.[6] 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 8.2% of GDP on health care, or US$2,908 per capita. Of that, approximately 83% was government expenditure.

Cultural influences[edit]

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 biomedicine 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 modelled after the model of Western biomedicine. 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.

AIDS[edit]

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 disease[edit]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Arnquist, Sarah (25 August 2009). "Health Care Abroad: Japan". The New York Times. 
  2. ^ Carl Freire, "Japan's suicide rate remains high", Associated Press, November 9, 2007.
  3. ^ "GKB47 suicide prevention slogan inspired by AKB48 criticized ‹ Japan Today: Japan News and Discussion". Japantoday.com. 2012-02-07. Retrieved 2013-10-14. 
  4. ^ 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.
  5. ^ "The Japan News - Breaking News from Japan by The Yomiuri Shimbun". Yomiuri.co.jp. Retrieved 2013-10-14. 
  6. ^ Yamaguchi, Mari. "Injured Man Dies After Rejection by 14 Hospitals". ABC News (Associated Press), February 4, 2009. Accessed 2 December 2009.

Further reading[edit]

  • "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