How the Medical system works in Japan

Japan has a renowned, high-quality public and private healthcare system. There are three types of healthcare coverage:

  • Shakai hoken: the employees’ social security fund. Companies with more than 5 employees are required to provide this health coverage.
  • Kokumin Kenko Hoken: it covers the rest of the population aged under 75 (job seekers, students, etc.) as well as expatriates. In addition, employees working for companies with less than 5 people must subscribe to this medical coverage.
  • Koki Koreisha Iryo Seido: medical coverage for people aged over 75.

As healthcare costs are very high, it is recommended to take out complementary healthcare coverage.


Visiting a doctor in Japan

Japanese GPs

You are free to choose your own doctor. Most of them work in private hospitals and rarely provide home visits.

Unlike Western countries where doctors take the time to listen to the patient and examine them, consultations in Japan are very quick!

According to Japanese law, the doctor will inform the patient’s family as a priority who will then have to approve or disapprove the treatment.

Consultation fees at a Japanese GP cost 5,000 yens on average (USD 51).

Japanese specialist doctors

Consultation fees at a specialist doctor cost around 10,000 yens (USD 102).

Being admitted to hospital in Japan

Japanese hospitals

Japanese hospitals provide quality equipment and qualified staff. As they are very well organized, waiting times are short. Most of doctors have completed their studies in an Anglo-Saxon country and therefore are fluent in English.

A consultation at a hospital costs around 3,000 yens (USD 31) and you are free to choose the hospital where you want to receive treatment.


If you need to call an ambulance, dial 119. However, keep in mind that not all ambulance drivers speak English.


Buying medication in Japan

Medical prescriptions in Japan are very clear and provide many details. You can see clearly the description of each drug, the quantity of each pill to be taken, a picture of the pill, precautions to be followed, etc. Please also note that the pharmacy will give you the exact number of pills required and not the entire box in order to avoid any waste.If you go to Japan, we recommend that you take your treatment with you as your prescription will not allow you to buy new drugs locally. A list of authorized drugs is available from the Embassy of Japan.

Source: MSH International