Hospitals await OK to invest overseas

Kyodo

The Health, Labor and Welfare Ministry is considering allowing hospital operators in Japan to invest in overseas medical institutions under the government’s growth strategy.

The ministry expressed the view at a medicine and nursing care subcommittee meeting under the government’s Industrial Competitiveness Council on Tuesday, officials said, with the aim of finalizing its position on the plan by the end of the year.

Such investments would be permitted on condition that hospital operators not neglect their operations in Japan and that they provide proper care overseas.

The ministry also plans to focus on upgrading medical infrastructure across the country for foreigners in the seven-year period leading up to the 2020 Tokyo Olympics.

It is planning to enable key regional health care facilities to retain medical interpreters and coordinators who can be dispatched to other institutions to help care for foreigners.

The ministry also responded positively to a subcommittee proposal to allow simple medical tests, such as drawing of one’s own blood, at pharmacies.

“They would need to supervise waste materials produced by blood collection and report them to authorities, but we are considering it in a forward-looking manner,” an official said.