Medical Information for Foreign Residents

The information cited in this corner were reprinted fromWELCOME TO TOKUSHIMA”−A Guidebook for living in Tokushimapublished in March, 1996, by International Discussion Group HIROBA.
It will be our great pleasure if this corner will help you consult doctors, when you are in any health trouble during your stay in Tokushima.

              Contents (click the item you want to check)

T. Medical Care in Japan X. Useful Words and Expressions
U. Health Insurance System
       ・Employees Health Insurance
       ・National Health Insurance
Y. Public Hospitals

Z.Pregnacy,Birth and Infant Welfare
V. Visiting Doctors or Medical Clinics
    ・How to find a Doctor
    ・Preparing for Outpatient Visits
    ・Making Appointments by Phone
[.AIDS Testing Service

\.City,Town and Village Offices
W. List of Doctors who speak Foreign Languages
    ・Internal Medicine
    ・Obstetrics & Gynecology
    ・Surgery & Internal Medicine
    ・Dentistry & Orthodontics




T. Medical Care in Japan

Medical care is a matter of great concern to foreign residents. Medical skills and technology are at an advanced level in Japan, but differences exist in doctorpatient relationships and medical procedures between Japan and some other countries. These differences are exacerbated by language difficulties.

Traditionally in Japan, doctors role is of the benevolentsenseiin whom the patient places complete trust; therefore it is very often the case that treatment options are not fully discussed and the diagnosis is only briefly explained. Currently there is debate on this issue, which is bringing about a process of change. Particularly at the public hospitals, large numbers of patients are treated daily, so there is often a long wait. Treatment is administered to more than one patient in the doctors office at one time, which may make those who are unaccustomed to this feel uncomfortable.We have compiled a list of doctors who have put themselves forward as being happy to welcome foreign patients in a spirit of overcoming the difficulties posed by an unfamiliar medical system. Please feel free to ask questions if you dont understand the doctors diagnosis of your condition or are unsure about some aspect of the method of treatment. 

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U. Health Insurance System

Basically, Japans Public Health Insurance System has two categories;


Employees Health Insurance (Kenkoh Hoken 健康保険)

You are automatically enrolled in this scheme if employed by a company or organization. There are different types of insurance, such as Health Insurance, Seamans Insurance and Mutual Insurance. The insurance fee is deducted from your pay check every month.

Upon joining, dependents (hi-fuyohsha 被扶養者) are also covered. Employers and employees each pay half of the premiums (hokenryoh 保険料) . Premiums are based on the employees average monthly income, regardless of dependents. Benefit differs somewhat among health insurance societies or associations.


National Health Insurance(Kokumin Kenkoh Hoken 国民健康保険)

This insurance is mainly for people who are self-employed, farmers, retired, etc. Each municipal office has a National Health Insurance section. A notice of payment due will be mailed and payment should be made at a bank or post office.

Foreigners qualify for National Health Insurance if they are not covered by other Japanese public insurance and if they plan to stay in Japan more than one year. Also eligible are foreigners (including students) with visas for less than a year if they can prove intent to stay more than one year. Policy-holders (hi-hokensha 被保険者) and dependents receive equal benefits. This insurance covers 70% of medical cost for both policy-holders and dependents. Each city, town, and village has a different system of calculating insurance premiums. Depending on local government budgets, premiums fluctuate slightly every year.


Contact the National Health Insurance section (kokumin kenkoh hokenka 国民健康保険課) of your local office.


Necessary documents for applications are;

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V. Visiting Doctors or Medical Clinics

How to Find a Doctor

Ask friends, co-workers, and acquaintances for advice about doctors. For simple illnesses, such as a cold, try a clinic in your neighborhood.


Preparing for Outpatient Visits

After choosing a doctor, telephone to find if an appointment system is used.

Check outpatient hours. Patients are often only seen 09:0012:00 and 14:0018:00.

Prepare identification. On your first visit, you need to register in Japanese, so a Japanese friend can help interpret. If you are in a public health insurance plan, you must bring an Insurance Card (hokensho 保険証) on the first visit and on the first visit of every month.

Money is essential. Even with public insurance, there is still a fee, usually modest. Take at least \10,000\20,000. Prepare a written description of your illness or problem. Be specific. Remember the doctors busy schedule.


Making appointment by Phone

The doctors listed in the following column welcome foreign patients and understand difficulties posed by an unfamiliar medical system. Feel free to ask questions if you dont fully understand the doctors diagnosis or treatment. Phone prior to your visit. Many receptionists in doctors offices dont speak foreign languages.  


These expressions may be useful:

You: Hello. My name is (Your Name) from (Your Country).

Can I speak to Dr.(Doctors Last Name)?

Moshimoshi, (Your Country) no (Your Name) desu. (Dr.s Last Name) sensei Onegaisimasu.

You: Can I make an appointment? Yoyaku onegai dekimasuka?.


The receptionist will transfer you to a doctor. If the doctor is unavailable, here are some expressions you may hear or use.

Receptionist: The doctor is not in at the moment. Sensei wa ima rusudesu.

You: I see. I will call again later. Sohdesuka, dewa mata atode denwashimasu.     


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