Timeline of healthcare in Japan

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This is a timeline of healthcare in Japan. Major events such as crises, policies and organizations are included, especially those focusing on modern healthcare.

Big picture[edit]

Year/period Key developments
6th-7th Centuries Kampō medicine, which is the study of Chinese medicine, is introduced in Japan through Korea. Based on this study, the Japanese create their own unique system of diagnosis and therapy.[1]
1200-1603 Medicine in Japan becomes more practical. Most of the physicians are Buddhist monks who continue to use the formulas, theories and practices that had been introduced from Tang China. Japanese physicians begin to achieve a more independent view on Chinese medicine.[2]
1603-1868 Edo period. Rangaku, literally "Dutch learning" is developed in Japan through its contacts with the Dutch colonists as they are the only European foreigners tolerated in Japan. Books and medical sciences are obtained from the Dutch, and then analyzed and translated into Japanese. Great debates occur between the proponents of traditional Chinese medicine and those of the new Western learning.[3]
1853-1922 Meiji Restoration. Japan opens to Western influence. Several Western hospitals start to be founded. Traditional medicine enters a period of rapid decline.[2]
1922-onward With a pertaining law, modern health care system develops initially emulating the German system. Health insurance is established as mandatory.[4]
1950-1990 Japanese economic miracle era. Life expectancy rises rapidly as mortality rates due to communicable diseases plummet, followed by a large reduction in stroke mortality rates.[5]
1990–present Japan achieves the highest life expectancy of any country in the world. Also, child mortality falls among the lowest levels at a global scale. Actual issues of its healthcare system are the growing senior population that has impact on government spending, and high rates of suicide among the Japanese.[6][7]

Full timeline[edit]

Evolution of life expectancy in Japan for the period 1865-2011.[8]
Year/period Type of Event Event Location
912–995 Development Ishinpō, the oldest surviving Japanese medical text is written by Tamba Yasuyori.[9]
1556 Development The first western hospital in Japan is established in Ōita by the Jesuit missionary Luis de Almeida[10] Ōita
1804 Development The first operation performed under general anesthesia by a Japanese physician, Hanaoka Seishu, using a datura.[11]
1820s Development Japanese ranpô medical practitioners translate Dutch medical texts, also integrating their readings with clinical diagnoses.[12]
1871 Discovery/infection The first case of Japanese encephalitis viral disease (JE) is documented in Japan.[13]
1872 Organization (public medical school) Kyoto Prefectural University of Medicine is established.[14][15] Kyoto
1874 Organization (hospital) Juzen Hospital is founded into what will later become Yokohama City University Hospital.[16][17] Yokohama
1889 Organization (hospital) Koyama Fukusei Hospital is founded.[18] Gotemba, Shizuoka
1891 Organization (hospital) St. Luke's International Hospital is founded as a medical mission facility by the Episcopal Church in the United States. The hospital is now one of central Tokyo's largest and most comprehensive medical care facilities.[19] Tokyo
1891 Organization (private medical school) Kitasato Shibasaburō (disciple of Robert Koch), founds the first Institute of Infectious Diseases, thus introducing the study of bacteriology in Japan.[20] Tokyo
1901 Organization (private medical school) Iwate Medical University is established.[21][22] Morioka, Iwate
1905 Development National health insurance emerges in Japan as the result of a gradual process when the Kamegafuchi Textile Company starts providing limited benefits for its employees. In the following decades, more and more corporations begin offering benefits through mutual aid societies.[4]
1909 Organization (hospital) Oku-Komyo-En Sanatorium is founded for treating leprosy.[23] Setouchi, Okayama
1909 Organization (hospital) Kikuchi Keifuen Sanatorium is established as a sanatorium for leprosy patients or ex-leprosy patients.[24] Koshi, Kumamoto
1913 Organization (hospital) Kizawa Memorial Hospital is founded.[25][26] Gifu
1918 Organization (hospital) Tokyo Medical University (TMU) is founded with the then status of Tokyo Isen. TMU is one of the old medical schools of Japan’s Taishō period. The school will not receive university status until 1946.[27] Tokyo
1922 Policy First health insurance law enacted. Inspired by the German system established by Chancellor Bismarck in 1883.[4]
1927 Policy The first Employee Health Insurance plan is created following the implementation of the 1922 law. Aimed at industrial employees and miners, but excluding the self-employed and employees in companies with fewer than five.[4][28]
1927 Organization (private medical school) Osaka Higher School of Medicine is established.[29][30] Takatsuki, Osaka
1928 Organization (public medical school) Tokyo Medical and Dental University is established.[31] Bunkyō, Tokyo
1928 Organization (private medical school) Showa Medical School is established.[32][33] Tokyo
1930 Organization (hospital) Nagashima Aiseien Sanatorium is founded for the treatment of leprosy.[34][35] Setouchi, Okayama
1931 Organization (hospital) Miyako Nanseien Sanatorium is founded.[36] Miyakojima, Okinawa
1932 Organization (hospital) Kuryu Rakusen-en Sanatorium is founded.[citation needed] Kusatsu, Gunma
1933 Organization (hospital) Shima Hospital is founded (destroyed during the atomic bomb explosion).[37] Hiroshima
1938 Policy Health insurance is extended to farmers, fishermen, foresters and other groups not covered by the 1922 law.[4]
1938 Organization (hospital) Okinawa Airakuen Sanatorium is founded for leprosy patients.[38] Nago, Okinawa
1943 Organization (hospital) Amami Wakoen Sanatorium is founded for treating for leprosy or ex-leprosy patients.[39] Amami, Kagoshima
1944 Organization (public medical school) Fukushima Woman's Medical School is established.[40][41] Fukushima, Fukushima
1945 Organization (hospital) Suruga Sanatorium is founded for treating leprosy.[42][43] Gotenba, Shizuoka
1945 Organization (public medical school) Nara Medical School is founded.[44] Kashihara, Nara
1947 Organization (private medical school) Osaka Women’s Medical College is established. In 1954, it is renamed Kansai Medical University.[45][46] Moriguchi, Osaka
1948 Organization (public medical school) Wakayama Medical University is established.[47][48] Wakayama, Wakayama
1949 Program launch Several volunteer organizations are formed to combat parasitic worms. Biannual school-based mass screening and treatment are implemented.[49]
1950 Organization (public medical school) Sapporo Medical University is founded.[50][51] Sapporo
1952 Organization (hospital) NTT Medical Center Tokyo is founded.[52] Shinagawa, Tokyo
1955 Program launch The Japan Association of Parasite Control (JAPC) is formed, aimed especially at targeting Ascaris lumbricoides infection.[49]
1957 Organization (research institute) National Institute of Radiological Sciences founded.[53][54] Inage-ku (Chiba)
1958 Policy the 1938 law is revised to include the remaining 30 percent of the population not previously covered.[4]
1961 Policy/achievement Japan achieves universal health insurance coverage and almost everyone becomes insured.[4][55]
1964 Organization (private medical school) Fujita Health University is founded.[citation needed] Toyoake, Aichi
1967 Policy The Ministry of Health, Labour and Welfare approves four Kampō medicines for reimbursement under the National Health Insurance (NHI) program.[56]
1970 Organization (private medical school) Kawasaki Medical School is established.[57][58] Kurashiki, Japan
1970 Organization (hospital) Kanagawa Children's Medical Center founded.[59] Yokohama
1971 Organization (private medical school) St. Marianna University School of Medicine is founded.[60] Miyamae-ku, Kawasaki
1971 Organization (private medical school) Aichi Medical University is founded.[61] Nagakute, Aichi
1971 Organization (hospital) Fujisawa City Hospital founded.[62] Fujisawa
1972 Organization (private medical school) Saitama Medical University is established.[63][64] Moroyama, Saitama
1972 Organization (private medical school) Jichi Medical University is established.[65][66] Shimotsuke, Tochigi
1972 Organization (private medical school) Hyogo College of Medicine is established.[67][68] Nishinomiya, Hyōgo
1972 Organization (private medical school) Kanazawa Medical University is established.[69][70] Uchinada, Ishikawa
1973 Organization (public medical school) Asahikawa Medical University is established. Asahikawa, Hokkaido
1973 Organization (public medical school) National Defense Medical College is founded.[71][72] Tokorozawa, Saitama
1974 Organization (public medical school) Shiga University of Medical Science is founded.[73][74] Ōtsu, Shiga
1974 Organization (public medical school) Hamamatsu University School of Medicine is founded.[75] Hamamatsu
1973 Policy Catastrophic Coverage Act is enacted. Once a patient's monthly copayment reaches a cap, no further copayment is required.[76]
1976 Policy 82 kampo medicines are approved by the Ministry of Health, Labour and Welfare. This number increases to 148 Kampo formulation extracts, 241 crude drugs, and 5 crude drug preparations.[56]
1978 Organization (private medical school) University of Occupational and Environmental Health Japan is founded.[77][78] Kitakyushu City
1983 Policy Health and Medical Service Law for the Aged enacted. All elderly persons are covered by government-sponsored insurance.[4][79]
1986 Organization (research center-hospital) Kanagawa Cancer Center is founded.[80] Kanagawa
2000 Study Nationwide study reports that 72% of registered physicians prescribe Kampō medicines.[81]
2005 Organization (hospital) National Hospital Organization Nagara Medical Center founded.[82] Gifu
2009 Report John Creighton Campbell, professor at the University of Michigan and Tokyo University, tells the New York Times that Japanese people are "the healthiest" group on the planet.[83]
2009 Achievement People in Japan reaches the longest life expectancy at birth of any country in the world at 83 years (male 79.6 years, female 86.4 years).[84]
2011 Policy The Government of Japan begins issuing six-month medical visas to allow visitors that much time to receive medical treatment in Japan. The government also plans to set up a special office that will promote medical tourism.[11]
2011 Study A study of 13 industrialized countries (Australia, United Kingdom, Canada, Denmark, France, Germany, Japan, the Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Sweden, Switzerland and United States) released shows Japan spending the least on health care.[11]
2011 Organization (hospital) Nagoya City West Medical Center is founded.[85] Kita-ku, Nagoya
2011 Crisis Medical records at many hospitals along the Tohoku coast are lost in the tsunami.[11]
2014 Report Statistics show for the first time that suicide is the most common cause of death among those aged 10 to 19.[86][87]
2014 Achievement Japan reaches the lowest rate of heart disease in the OECD, and the lowest level of dementia in the developed world.[88]

See also[edit]


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