Japan's hospitals face payment, language challenges as tourism numbers spike
Japan Times -- Jun 18
For a Filipino man visiting Tokyo in May last year, the tour of the capital was supposed to be a fun sightseeing trip.

But the man collapsed after suffering a cerebral hemorrhage and was rushed to NTT Medical Center Tokyo in Shinagawa Ward for an emergency operation.

Fortunately, the surgery saved his life. But the trouble didn’t stop there. As a tourist, his medical costs were not covered by Japan’s national health insurance system, pushing his medical bills to an eye-popping ¥5.4 million.

“If you are covered by the health insurance system, you may need to pay just ¥100,000 or ¥130,000 or so even if the actual cost is something like ¥2 million to ¥3 million,” said Isao Ebihara, a medical coordinator for foreign patients at NTT Medical Center Tokyo. “But if you are a tourist not covered by any insurance, you have to shoulder all of the actual costs on your own. Few tourists can pay ¥1 million or ¥5 million in cash, particularly those from developing countries.”

The Filipino man, whose name is being withheld to protect his privacy, could not immediately pay the bill, which prompted the Philippine Embassy in Tokyo to temporarily cover part of the expenses.

The case is just one of many that hospitals across the nation are seeing amid the tourism boom.

Tourists have more than quadrupled from 6.79 million in 2009 to 28.69 million in 2017, partly thanks to the easing of visa conditions for visitors from China, Thailand, Malaysia, India, the Philippines, Vietnam, Indonesia and Brazil, according to the Japan Tourism Agency. The government aims to boost that figure to 40 million by 2020 and 60 million by 2030, or three times the level in 2015.

But the growing influx is likely to put a greater strain on Japan’s hospitals as many patients from overseas arrive without insurance, experts say.

News source: Japan Times
Jul 19
Temperatures rose further across Japan excluding northern regions on Wednesday, exceeding 40 degrees Celsius for the first time in five years, the Japan Meteorological Agency said. (Jiji)
Jul 19
The Diet, Japan's parliament, on Wednesday passed into law a bill to strengthen restrictions on smoking in public places in the fight against secondhand smoke. (Jiji)
Jul 19
The schedule for the Tokyo Olympics has been broadly determined. Starting times of the marathon and other races along roads were moved forward in view of the hot summer weather. (NHK)
Jul 19
Japanese footballer Keisuke Honda is swapping football for finance, after launching a venture capital fund with Hollywood star Will Smith to invest in startups addressing social problems, the striker's agent said Wednesday. (Japan Today)
Jul 19
The main stadium for the 2020 Tokyo Olympics and Paralympics, now under construction, has been shown to media 2 years ahead of the games' opening. (NHK)
Jul 19
Japan's Diet has enacted legislation to reform the electoral system, including the addition of six seats to the 242-seat Upper House. (NHK)
Jul 19
The number of foreign tourists who visited Japan in the first half of this year hit a record high for the period. (NHK)
Jul 19
The International Olympic Committee and organizing committee for the Tokyo Games failed to agree on what time the swimming finals will be held. (NHK)
Jul 19
Japanese temples are offering their facilities as tourist accommodation, an initiative aimed at wooing foreigners to rural Japan. (Nikkei)
Jul 19
Japan's nuclear watchdog on Wednesday granted its first approval for a plan to reuse nuclear fuel taken out of decommissioned reactors in operational ones. (Japan Today)