Number of maternity hospitals in Japan at lowest level in over four decades, health ministry says

Kyodo, JIJI

The number of maternity hospitals in Japan has fallen to 1,313, its lowest since 1972 when comparable data became available, as the country’s population rapidly greys and maintains a low birthrate, a Health, Labor and Welfare Ministry survey showed Thursday.

As of October last year, the number of hospitals — which fell by 19 from a year earlier to mark the 27th straight annual decrease — sank to about half the figure seen in 1990, according to the survey.

Besides the low birthrate, a ministry official said, “it may also be that hospitals in various communities are consolidating their obstetric departments.”

The number of smaller clinics with obstetricians and gynecologists stood at 3,327, down 142 from 2014, while pediatric hospitals decreased for the 24th consecutive year to 2,592, down 26 from a year before.

The number of medical facilities across Japan, including mental hospitals and dentists’ clinics, totaled 178,492, down 419 from the previous year, according to the ministry’s survey.

The ministry also said that the number of full-time hospital doctors came to 171.7 per 100,000 population, with Kochi Prefecture having 259.7 doctors and Saitama Prefecture 124.9.