Japanese healthcare industry has been rated world’s leader in terms of longevity by the World Health Organization (WHO).
Figure 1: Timeline of Medical Tourism Sector in Japan
The Japanese government has identified its healthcare industry as a key economic growth driver, and is aggressively taking steps to attract medical tourists from across the globe. With the development of cutting-edge technology and implementation of reforms, medical assistance in Japan has become less-expensive and more easily available than many other countries worldwide. As per the Ministry of Economy, Travel and Industry, the number of medical tourists in Japan has been increasing every year. The influx of foreigners seeking medical tourism is also boosted by the relaxed visa conditions and weak yen. Currently, the Japanese government is focusing on both improving medical facilities for international patients coming to Japan and on exporting Japanese medical services to foreign destinations.
What Attracts the Medical Tourists to Japan?
- Long-Term Visa for Medical Stay: Unlike most other countries, Japanese Government offers six-months long Visa for Medical Stay through which medical patients from across the world can enjoy the benefits of excellent medical treatment in Japan.
- Quality Care: The healthcare professionals in Japanese are trained to be amongst the most experienced and skilled worldwide. In fact, there are highly trained specialists offering top-class comprehensive treatment.
- Latest, Less-Invasive Technology: The establishment of Medical Excellence in Japan (MEJ) has enabled Japanese healthcare professionals to offer standard operative measures and less-invasive therapies.
- Hospitality: Japan is known world-wide for its hospitality and even in the healthcare industry, the medical professionals extend a personal touch and caring attitude which all patients deserve. This hospitality is beyond what medical tourists can expect in other countries.
What Challenges does The Japanese Government Face?
- Language & Cultural Barriers: A very small percentage of professionals in the Japanese healthcare industry speak English or are attuned to the different foreign cultures. This has become a huge barrier for medical tourists who belong to different countries and require help while adjusting to a new way of life in China.
- Resistance to Internationalization: Associations like the JMA (Japan Medical Association) have shown high resistance and opposition of medical tourists coming to Japan in fear of internationalization of the country’s culture. In addition, they are also against the healthcare system to be developed for the sake of profit.
- Cost of Living: While medical technologies and services available in Japan attract a large number medical tourists, the high cost of living in the country makes it impossible for foreigners to stay in Japan for a long-time. Thus, high costs of living are a barrier to the growth of number of medical tourists visiting Japan every year.
What Opportunities Lie Ahead for Japanese Government?
- Growing interest of foreign medical tourists in Japanese healthcare industry can be capitalized upon by further promoting Japan as the one-stop destination for all medical woes.
- Expansion of Japanese healthcare industry internationally through collaborations with other emerging economies such as India.
The potential for medical tourists in Japan is very high and the Government must continue its efforts for encouraging more medical tourists to visit Japan. The availability of the most modern technology along with skilled medical practitioners can help Japan poise itself as the world’s top leader in healthcare by offering advanced treatments for problems such as cancer.
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Ankur Gupta, Head Marketing & Communications