In September 2016, freelance journalist Yutaka Hasegawa touched off a firestorm of criticism after writing in his blog that diabetes patients receiving dialysis should pay for the treatment themselves instead of using public health insurance. He argued that it was their "corrupt" lifestyles that spawned the need for dialysis and that their medical expenses would "ruin Japan."

Many people took to the internet to slam Hasegawa over his misleading and abusive remark (not all diabetes is lifestyle-related). But it also shone a spotlight on the dire financial situation surrounding Japan's health care system, which is dealing with a rapidly graying population and a swelling ratio of diabetics.

According to the health ministry, 10 million people were "strongly suspected" of being diabetic in 2016, up from 6.9 million in 1997.