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Japan Home Medical Care

Japan is now the world’s fastest aging country and the Government of Japan (GOJ) has actively started the process of promoting the home medical care industry for the country’s senior citizens.  Recent population figures released by Japan’s Ministry of Health, Labour and Welfare (MHLW) reveal that as Japan’s population rapidly declines, the ageing population is expected to continue to grow.  Given this outlook that will inevitably lead to changes in demographics and social structures, more than ever before, Japanese citizens will turn their attention to home medical care.  This will result in new business opportunities for U.S. companies that can offer innovative medical technologies and diagnostics in the Japanese market.

The latest population projection released in April 2023 by the National Institute of Population and Social Security Research (IPSS) indicated that by 2025, approximately 8 million baby boomers who were born between 1947 and 1949 will be over 75 years old in Japan, making up 17.5% of the total population (this is commonly referred to as the “2025 Problem” in Japan).  By 2040, approximately 35% of the total population will be elderly, with the population continuously declining and the number of elderly rising.

Japan’s super-ageing society will result in a variety of societal challenges, including rising medical and nursing care costs, along with a shortage of workers and medical professionals.  The Japanese government has already taken measures to address these challenges in anticipation of the aforementioned “2025 Problem.” For example, MHLW has changed its policies to promote home medical care, including revising its telemedicine guideline to allow for remote diagnosis and treatment of patients by means of telecommunications technology.  Whereas original guidelines required medical consultations to be conducted in person, in response to COVID-19, the use of telemedicine has become more prevalent in Japan.  In April 2022, MHLW also established new reimbursement price points for doctors who promote the smooth transition of outpatients to home medical care, even allowing for cancer treatments to take place at home.  In December 2022, MHLW announced that it will continue to steadily promote these types of plans in response to changing demographics and structures in anticipation of Japan’s ageing population.

Finally, in its 8th National Medical Strategic Plan covering years 2024-2029, MHLW indicated that it will continue promoting the use of ICT (Information and Communications Technology) and digitalization in Japan’s medical field.  As a result, Japan will become increasingly dependent on products using ICT and AI technology to diagnose, treat and monitor patients at home.  This is leading to increased demand for innovative medical products and diagnostics services that can improve the quality of home medical care in treating and monitoring patients. 

With these new types of products and services, Japan is expected to continue increasing the usage of home therapies (such as home oxygen and home ventilation therapies), telemedicine (including online medication guidance), and patient monitoring.  U.S. exporters of these types of innovative technologies, products, and services can take advantage of this growing market.

For more information about healthcare market developments in Japan and related opportunities for U.S. firms, please contact the U.S. Commercial Service at