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Medical treatment in Japan

The medical system here is more complex than other countries with training, certification and licensing standards varying from hospital to hospital. Most Japanese people are insured through National Health Insurance or through their companies. Waiting lists for NHI beds are long. The patient's family or relatives are expected to help do a lot of the things that in the West would be taken care of by hospital staff.
At medical clinics, those without appointments can expect to wait up to 3 hours. Consultation time is short and medication prescribed by the doctor is given to the patient at the reception desk of the clinic. If hospitalization is necessary, the doctor will refer the patient to a hospital with which he has connections, and another doctor will take over the case.
There is no 'family doctor' system really, though some Western-trained doctors have a private practice and will act as a family physician.
National and university hospitals are acknowledged to be the best, though for less serious ailments most people use a clinic in their neighborhood.
The best thing to do is to register with one of the doctors who serve the foreign community and make sure you can contact him in case of emergency. Always carry a medical card in both Japanese and English.

If you need an ambulance in an emergency, dial 119. One should arrive in about ten minutes. Note that ambulances have facilities for only basic first aid.

We listed hospitals and clinics which have English speaking staff and accept foreigners.

Tokyo Sanitarium Hospital 3392-6151 Amanuma, Suginami-ku
Toranomon Hospital 3588-1111 Toranomon, Minato-ku
New Akasaka Clinic 3585-3961 Akasaka, Minato-ku
Endo Clinic (Pediatrics) 3492-6422 Kamiosaki, Shinagawa-ku
International Catholic Hospital (Seibo Byoin) 3951-1111 Shimo-ochiai, Shinjuku-ku
International Clinic 3583-7831
Azabu, Minato-ku
St. Luke's International Hospital
(Sei Ruka Byoin)
3541-5151 Higashi Ginza, Chuo-ku
Tokyo Medical & Surgical Clinic 3436-3028 Shibakoen, Minato-ku
Tokyo Metropolitan Hiroo Hospital 3444-1181 Ebisu, Shibuya-ku
(To make an appointment) 3446-8331

Dental Clinics
Watanabe Dental Office 3405-1315 Minami Aoyama, Minato-ku
Yamauchi Dental Clinic 3441-6377 Shiroganedai, Minato-ku
Kitamura Dental Clinic 3433-8148 Toranomon, Minato-ku
International Dental Clinic 3465-5862 Shoto, Shibuya-ku
Yamaguchi Dental Clinic
(Italian Possible)
3409-6415 Nishi Azabu, Minato-ku
Orient Dental Clinic 3344-0311 Keio Plaza Hotel, Shinjuku

Sanno Clinic 3402-3151 Aoyama, Minato-ku
Aiiku Hospital 3473-8321 Nishi Azabu, Minato-ku
Shibuya Central Clinic & Hospital for Women 3461-0090 Shoto, Shibuya-ku
Tokyo Maternity Clinic & Hospital 3403-1861 Sendagaya, Shibuya-ku
Kanda 2nd. Clinic 3402-0654 Nishi Azabu, Minato-ku
Umihara Medical Clinic 3408-8747 Minami Aoyama, Minato-ku

Inoue Eye Hospital 3295-0911 Ochanomizu, Chiyoda-ku
Nozaki Eye Clinic 3461-1671 Shibuya, Shibuya-ku

Periodic Health Examinations
At a clinic, the waiting list may be 7-10 days. For a full health check, a large hospital will have a waiting list of up to 2 months, depending on the hospital.

Public Health Centers
You can get a free medical check up at your nearest public health center. These centers also offer medical certificates which may be necessary for school enrollment and employment. Some centers offer English services.

Immunizations / Vaccinations
Immunizations/Vaccinations are carried out by most Health Promotion Departments of public health centers. Contact your nearest center.

Newborn Babies

During pregnancy, go to your ward office to get your mother and child handbook, useful in case of emergencies. Forms are in English. Within 14 days of birth, one of the parents must go to the ward office with the report of birth from the hospital, both parents' passports, and the alien registration card of the parent present to apply for a birth certificate. No fee.

You will also have to register your baby's birth with your embassy. Consult the relevant embassy for more details.

If you want to take your baby out of the country for a period of time, then a re-entry permit is needed for the baby.

Fee: 3,000 yen
Document: parents' alien registration cards, baby's passport and birth certificate.


Foreigners staying in Tokyo for a one year period or longer will be required to join one of the three health insurance programs (except those receiving public welfare benefit). The three types are National Health Insurance, employee insurance and private insurance. National Health Insurance is for those who are not covered by any insurance (includes those who are self-employed). Employee health insurance is for all those employed full time. When you sign up for National Health Insurance at your ward office, you will receive a certificate which must be shown at medical institutions so that most of your costs will be covered. You will receive a bill quarterly and the amount will depend on your earnings for last year.

Eastern & Western Medicine

East Asian, or Oriental medicine, dates back thousands of years. There are no surgical, internal or ophthalmology divisions in Oriental medicine, just one complete system to treat the whole body. Despite the growth of modern, Western medicine in Japan, there is a large number of clinics in Tokyo
specializing in Oriental therapy; hari (acupuncture), okyu, shiatsu (massage) and Chinese herbal medicine. Since it is holistic therapy, the purpose is not to relieve individual symptoms locally with drugs that may harm the rest of the body, but to correct the balance of the whole body's energy, ''ki'', so that healing comes about naturally. Modern medicine has no unified system for treating the whole body.
Acupuncture often cures or alleviates the ailments that Western medicine cannot: high or low blood pressure, neuralgia, diabetes, migraine, rheumatism, stress, viral diseases and allergies. Many healthy people use it to maintain good health and also as a way of relaxing. Hair-like needles are applied to certain points on the body, treatment is painless and counseling is an important part of the therapy. Okyu and shiatsu work on similar principles.
These alternatives to hospitals and surgery are gaining a wider audience worldwide. Being in Tokyo gives you an opportunity to try it and see for yourself.

*Medical-hari (acupuncture)
It is best to attend an acupuncturist recommended by someone that you know well, as there are some therapists whose skills are not up to standard.

English speaking pharmacies

As many pharmacies in Tokyo sell foreign pharmaceutical products, there is a good chance you will be able to find what you were used to using in your home country.

American Pharmacy 3271-4034 Hibiya Park Bldg.
The Hill Pharmacy 3583-5044 4-1-6 Roppongi
Koyasu Pharmacy 3401-8667 Roppongi Koyasu Bldg., 7-14-7 Roppongi
Koyasu Pharmacy 3446-4701 Hiroo Garden Plaza, 4-1-29 Minami Azabu
National Azabu Supermarket Pharmacy 3442-3495 4-5-2 Minami Azabu
The Medical Dispensary 32 3434-5817 Mori Bldg. 3-4-30 Shibakoen
Kerry Drug Store Capitol Tokyu Hotel 3581-5686 Nagata-cho
Iskra Pharmacy 3478-4382 Sun's Bldg. 2F, 1-7-2 Jingumae

Other stores in nine major hotels.

Copyright by IMA Co., 1999