Tokyo hospitals to add five foreign doctors for expats


Staff Writer

The government will allow five non-Japanese doctors to practice at four hospitals in Tokyo from around December. Their patients will be limited to non-Japanese who agree to pay full costs themselves.

The move, proposed by the Tokyo Metropolitan Government and approved by the central government on June 29, is part of a “special zone” deregulation initiative spearheaded by Prime Minister Shinzo Abe.

Currently, doctors from the U.S., the U.K., France and Singapore can practice in Japan without a Japanese medical license under bilateral agreements with those nations, but they can only see patients of their own nationality.

“As we have an Olympics coming up in Tokyo, we decided it is necessary to create an environment where foreign nationals can live in Tokyo without anxiety,” said Takafumi Kobayashi, head of the national strategic special zone coordination division at the metropolitan government.

The plan will see foreign practitioners placed at institutions across the capital. St. Luke’s International Hospital in Tokyo’s Chuo Ward, as well as its branch clinic St. Luke’s MediLocus in Chiyoda Ward, will each hire an American doctor. Juntendo University Hospital in Bunkyo Ward will get two doctors, one American and one French, while Keio University Hospital in Shinjuku Ward will acquire one British doctor.

The doctors, whose names and areas of expertise have yet to be announced, will be allowed to see patients of any nationality except Japanese. Foreign nationals covered by Japan’s public health insurance scheme can seek their services but will not be able to use the insurance, Kobayashi said.

St. Luke’s projects that the hospital group’s two American doctors will see a total of 8,640 people in 2016.

Kobayashi said the metropolitan government will consider expanding the list of such doctors if hospitals so request.

Tatsuo Hatta, a member of an advisory panel headed by the prime minister that took up the metropolitan government’s special zone request, said that, though small, it is a major step toward breaking down the regulatory barriers in the heavily protected health care sector — and infusing it with diversity and fresh ideas.

“Until now, non-Japanese doctors who were here under the bilateral agreements were of little use because they were only allowed to see patients from the same country they came from,” said Hatta, economist and president of the Fukuoka Prefecture-based think tank Asian Growth Research Institute.

  • Firas Kraïem

    “The doctors […] will be allowed to see patients of any nationality except Japanese.”

    Yeah better not contaminate Japanese minds with 21st-century medicine. :D Seriously, what is the government so afraid of? The Japanese are the best anyway, right?

    • Ine Chan

      Yes ! After all they do not have the same “blood” !
      Abe is a hero for “allowing” foreign doctors in. He is so “global”!
      4 doctors ? That’s it ?
      Stop kidding !

      • Bernadette Soubirous

        Quit complaining about the Japanese. Maybe you should read about other countries in the way they treat non citizens.
        Thousands of angry Ethiopian Jews fought their way through police lines and besieged the Prime Minister’s office in Jerusalem yesterday, during a protest sparked off by the revelation that the Israeli national blood bank routinely destroyed blood donated by Ethiopians, on the grounds that they might have Aids.

      • Ine Chan

        Bernadette, I am sorry but I disagree with you. we complain because without complaining there is no change. Why do you talk about about other countries, don’t you think we are aware of what’s happening around the world ?+ it is an article about Japan, so we talk about Japan.
        I like Japan very much, I am not saying that it is the worst country in the world, I am just saying that 5 foreign doctors for a city big like Tokyo is a joke.
        And do you think because we are foreigners we shouldn’t have a voice ? Well I am sorry but no, I complain because some decisions the government take may have an impact on my life and other people’s life, therefore I don’t know why I shouldn’t talk about it.
        That’s politics and democracy , and to me it is important to make yourself an opinion and have your voice in the society you live in.
        We are just hoping that the leaders in Japan hear people’s opinion , and learn from their mistakes, and make an even better country.
        (Don’t worry I also like to complain 10x more about my own country) ;)
        Btw have you heard about Ayako Sono who wants Japan to have sgregational laws and separate foreigners from Japanese and have them all live in the same zone. Japan is a great place , but that’s also what it is about. I am sure Japanese people complain too and also complain about other countries. I’m fine with that. :)

      • Bernadette Soubirous

        Ine Chan,

        Great post. I have read writings by Ayako Sono. Ayako wants the non white foreigners separated. You know that the Japanese like most Asians love white skin and European culture. If you are a yuushokujin life is different for you in Japan. Just look at all the unemployable Europeans married to wealthy Japanese women. Asians have a color complex that can’t be denied. Just watch how the Japanese import whites to become CEO’s in their organizations. If you step back and look at it from my point of view you will see my point. I feel so sad for so many Japanese women because they are targeted for marriage by foreign men. You will see a surge of men who can’t find a wives from Muslim countries start using Japan as a hunting ground to look for a wife. Japanese women know nothing about other cultures so they blindly rush into marriage. I have been around the world and 5 doctors might not be many but many countries have none. I want you to remember my post and pay close attention to foreign men with a Japanese wife. Japan will change but it will change due to the high marriage rate amongst Japanese women to non Japanese men. In closing, millions of Chinese men need a wife. Therein lies the future.

      • HayesOose

        What is it that you need to change? Are you *entitled* to a western doctor?

        What right have you to whinge that such doctors are not amply supplied to you?

      • Ine Chan

        It’s not what I need to change, if I am in trouble I can always go back to my home country.
        It is about what really Japan wants. The government keeps on telling people that’s Japan has to become “global” , they put pressure on people for 2020 , they push more people to learn English, they are in their “let’s be international!” Phase. If you really want to create this kind of society then do it a 100%. The problem is the false expectations the leaders of Japan are giving. They say “they will allow foreign doctors working in Tokyo hospitals” and then you learn that only 5 guys are gonna be working, for a city with millions of people. A bigger number would have been more appreciated, if there were 50 people or so then I would think “wow great job Japan , they are really willing to work it out and be more open as they say”, But again that’s not the case they keep on shutting doors to people , and their only excuse is “they don’t have the same blood therefore everything is different”.
        I feel sad for foreign pregnant women who need more support during their pregnancy, for foreign doctors who might also want to participate in society and for other people who might need help from people who understand them. I see no problem with Japanese doctors who can speak English or Chinese or whatever ;)
        If the government wants to advertise and keep on saying that Japan is a globalised country they should stop lying and do what a globalized really do.
        Don’t get me wrong I am not hating on Japanese people I just think their government is sloppy.

    • Bernadette Soubirous

      The Japanese are great people. Maybe you should check out how Europeans view racial contamination.
      Black Israelis upset over insult to their blood.

      Prime Minister’s office besieged by Ethiopian Jews angry at destruction of donated blood by transfusion service

  • jcbinok

    On one hand, I can understand Japanese reticence to throwing open their doors to the world, what with terrorism, drugs, guns, cheap rice and dairy, etc. But, if you’re going to let foreign doctors practice in your hospitals, how can you rationalize excluding them from national health insurance? That’s like asking a woman out to dinner, then wanting to pay betsu-betsu.

    • Bernadette Soubirous

      Is it chivalrous to pay for women? Well, yes, certainly it is. But I’ll tell you… I’ve heard lots of women talking about how they wish a man would come along and be chivalrous and take them on a proper date for a change. Yet, these same women sleep with men fast who pay for nothing for them, and never sleep with the men who take them on those proper dates they kept asking for and paid for them.

  • Ponta Vedra

    Wow! FIVE whole doctors! At four hospitals! For all of Tokyo! And despite paying fully for insurance, I can’t use it to see any of them, and have to shell out tons of money for it! I am SO EXCITED!

    Are they kidding? Really?

    With this, the most vital of services, and with foreign residents paying equal to any Japanese citizen for those services, the best they can do—under the pressure of an Olympics, no less—is to provide a whole five doctors for 400,000 foreign residents? Let’s say only half of those pay for national or social insurance to the Japanese government—that should account for many HUNDREDS of doctors, not just five.

    If you can’t withstand the horror of having non-Japanese serve in the positions, how about just hiring Japanese doctors who can actually speak English?

    Nope. Can’t be bothered. Thanks for your tax money though, suckers.

    • Sara2586d


    • Steve Jackman

      It just goes to show the delusional Alice in Wonderland world the Japanese live in. Their world is completely devoid of any rationality or common sense and is totally divorced from reality. Well done, Japan!

      • HayesOose

        Rather, it’s — actually, you are — more illustrative of the delusional sense of entitlement displayed by gaijin.

    • Bernadette Soubirous

      Quit complaining,

      In most countries you are just out of luck if you cant speak the language.

      SHANGHAI—When Lin Tao was diagnosed with a lethal spinal tumor in 2012, doctors in Hangzhou told him he had one option in China—surgery that would replace two sections of his vertebrae and might leave him paralyzed.

      Mr. Lin and his wife pursued a second option.

      The couple flew to San Francisco and paid $70,000 out of pocket at UCSF Medical Center, where doctors recommended that Mr. Lin try radiation therapy rather than surgery. Now, his family says his tumor is gone and he can still walk.

      Mr. Lin thus joined an emerging group of Chinese going overseas in search of treatment that is either unavailable or ineffective in China. It is next to impossible to pin down the number of such “medical tourists.”

    • HayesOose

      Actually, it seems the problem, for some, is “the horror” of being seen by a Japanese doctor.

      I call those people idiots, not just gaijin.

      And the majority of Japanese doctors I’ve been to in fifteen years of living in Japan, including my dentist, speak English, even when they deny being able to.

      Imagine a Japanese person (or Chinese, or Portuguese, for that matter) whinging at a lack of American or British doctors who can speak their language.

      One all too common characteristic of the American/British (generally white) gaijin, aka “expat”: Reflexive sense of entitlement.

  • DrHanibalLecter

    Reading an article like this, made tears of laughter run down my cheeks…

    What a strange country… Nurturing an utterly childish idea of superiority, yet never missing a single opportunity of making a fool of itself.

    • HayesOose

      Are you entitled to a doctor from your country who speaks your language?