Japan comes to the medical tourism party

The Ministry of Economy, Travel and Industry suggests that the number of medical tourists in Japan has been increasing every year but cannot give numbers. The government is focusing on both improving medical facilities for international patients coming to Japan and on exporting Japanese medical services to foreign destinations.

A very small percentage of professionals in the Japanese healthcare industry speak English or are attuned to different foreign cultures. This has become a huge barrier for medical tourists who require help.

The Japan Medical Association has consistently opposed the push for medical tourism, citing problems with respect to the general principle that healthcare should not be for profit, and the prohibition of mixed medical care billing in the Japanese healthcare system, and fear of internationalisation and anything else they can think of as an excuse to oppose medical tourism.

While medical technologies and services available in Japan attract a large number of medical tourists, the high cost of living in the country makes it impossible for foreigners to stay in Japan for a long-time.

The potential for medical tourists in Japan is very high but the government is reluctant to do much more than token efforts for encouraging more medical tourists to visit Japan.