Japan firms promote medical tourism for wealthy Chinese, offering lifeline for struggling hospitals


Companies are boosting efforts to promote medical tourism for foreign visitors seeking medical care in Japan.

Travel agency JTB Corp. and medical assistance service provider Emergency Assistance Japan Co. are offering support for visits to Japan with interpreters, transportation and accommodation. They are targeting wealthy Chinese in particular.

On Nov. 6, JTB set up its first outlet in Beijing specializing in tours to Japan with a view to receiving medical treatment.

“We aim to become a trustworthy coordinator for patients,” said Mana Asada, deputy chief of the international medical business at Emergency Assistance Japan.

The Japanese government is also supporting the development of medical tourism by issuing visas for reasons such as medical stays.

Medical tourism, which usually costs from ¥200,000 to ¥1 million per trip, is seen as a potential life-saver for regional hospitals that fear for their financial future as the population shrinks.

Medical Excellence Japan, a general incorporated body established with support from the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry, has started a system to certify companies hoping to serve medical tourists.

JTB and Emergency Assistance Japan were the first to receive certification under Medical Excellence Japan’s standards, which include that a company has accepted 150 or more foreign patients on average in the previous two years.

One facility accepting foreign patients is Fujita Health University Hospital in Toyoake, Aichi Prefecture.

“We want travel agencies to highlight Japan’s high-quality medical care so the number of foreign patients increases,” said Kazuharu Hamano, chief of the hospital’s international medical and welfare service department.