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The Imminent Healthcare and Emergency Care Crisis in Japan

  • Author(s): Suzuki, Tetsuji
  • Nishida, Masamichi
  • Suzuki, Yuriko
  • Kobayashi, Kunio
  • et al.
Abstract

Objectives: Japan has a universal healthcare system, and this paper describes the reality of the healthcare services provided, as well as current issues with the system.

Methods: Academic, government, and press reports on Japanese healthcare systems and healthcare guidelines were reviewed.

Results: The universal healthcare system of Japan is considered internationally to be both low-cost and effective because the Japanese population enjoys good health status with a long life expectancy, while healthcare spending in Japan is below the average given by the Organization for Economic Corporation and Development (OECD). However, in many regions of Japan the existing healthcare resources are seriously inadequate, especially with regard to the number of physicians and other health professionals. Because healthcare is traditionally viewed as “sacred” work in Japan, healthcare professionals are expected to make large personal sacrifices. Also, public attitudes toward medical malpractice have changed in recent decades, and medical professionals are facing legal issues without experienced support of the government or legal professionals. Administrative response to the lack of resources and collaboration among communities are beginning, and more efficient control and management of the healthcare system is under consideration.

Conclusion: The Japanese healthcare system needs to adopt an efficient medical control organization to ease the strain on existing healthcare professionals and to increase the number of physicians and other healthcare resources. Rather than continuing to depend on healthcare professionals being able and willing to make personal sacrifices, the government, the public and medical societies must cooperate and support changes in the healthcare system.

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