Abe battles doctors' lobby over 'third arrow' reform

By Linda Sieg

The requested article has expired, and is no longer available. Any related articles, and user comments are shown below.

© (c) Copyright Thomson Reuters 2013.

©2024 GPlusMedia Inc.

Login to comment

Japanese people's longevity is men 79.94 5th and women 86.41 the 1st in the world in 2012. While in America men 76 and women 78. The figues look our system is successful. Why do we have to change?

1 ( +2 / -1 )

If it ain't broke, don't fix it.

3 ( +5 / -2 )

& this is Abe san's third arrow of reform?? Ohhhhhh, boy!

2 ( +2 / -0 )

Universal healthcare for all is a gem. Don't throw it in the garbage.

They should pass regulation to help expedite new drugs and treatments though.

Don't need to throw the baby out with the bath water.

2 ( +4 / -2 )

If it ain't broke, don't fix it.

It ain't broke, but it ain't too solvent neither.

1 ( +2 / -1 )

Better aim of the third arrow would be break the subsidized links between Japan Tobacco and the Japanese government.

4 ( +5 / -1 )

This is more an issue of the very closed but powerful Japanese pharmaceutical industry, who still think they can live off the research of others. If non-Japanese companies want to enter the Japanese drug market, they often have to go into joint partnerships with Japanese companies or jump through regulatory hoops for years.

'But because of a ban unique to Japan, patients who want to combine a new drug or treatment not included in the official health insurance package with a treatment that is ordinarily covered must pay out of their own pocket for both.'

That Abe has to include the Japanese health system in the equation, is Abe again trying to make the less well off in Japanese society pay. Leave the health system alone, it works well and any Kiwi, Brit or Australian will tell you what health system restructuring means. You end up with a nation of people with bad teeth who have to remortgage the family treasury, just to get simple dentistry.

The Japanese public health system is one of the best things about this society,

6 ( +8 / -2 )

The universal health care does need a bit of reform -- for example allowing third-party insurance systems -- but I highly, highly doubt any changes Abe wants would be for the better. More research? definitely! More devices? I don't think so -- Japan already has more MRI machines than pretty much any nation and have to keep recommending you get one to cover the costs. The nation always rushes into buying new, untested devices that become useless later, be it SARS testing machines or Dreamliners.

-1 ( +3 / -4 )

smithinjapanAug. 30, 2013 - 09:17AM JST

The universal health care does need a bit of reform -- for example allowing third-party insurance systems

Fine tuning maybe, but in this age of austerity we all know what reform entails; the less fortunate suffer, while the powerful and rich get richer. Like I said usually in health care reform, the first to suffer is public dentistry because it's considered the non-urgent side of medical care.

What you end up with is a ticking time bomb of peridental disease, where more than half the nation are 10 years away from a mouthful of dentures. Britain and New Zealand are perfect examples.

1 ( +3 / -2 )

Unfortunately, the system is broke. There is no "universal" healthcare in Japan, you have to pay into the system to receive treatment. If you don't pay into the system, you will not be covered, and you will have to pay for treatment. In my case, my national health system payments in Japan cost more than my private insurance in America, yet the national health care system pays only 70% of costs, whereas my private insurance in America covered 100%.

The doctors are opposed to changing the system because it will end the comfy relationship they enjoy with drug makers and suppliers. Most of the "new" drugs and "cutting edge" treatments are from outside Japan, and the normal suppliers do not profit from their sales and distribution. This relationship usually includes golf matches and meals which are paid for by drug companies, and sometimes more. It is an old cultural relationship system, not only related to the medical profession.

4 ( +8 / -4 )

This has all to do with Japan's entry into TPP. Agriculture is just peanuts, the main parts are the financial and insurance sectors. http://www.aljazeera.com/indepth/opinion/2013/06/201361711230432720.html

3 ( +5 / -2 )

stick that arrow up your nose, Abe.

-1 ( +1 / -2 )

One again, Shintaro Abe emulating Margaret Thatcher.


fast track medical treatment for those who can afford it; long, long waiting lists for everyone else;

heavily advertised 'special introductory offer' private treatment; cynical divestment in public system;

pearly smiles for those who can afford them; ugly teeth for everyone else.

3 ( +3 / -0 )

Ah, yes! The Abenomics three arrow strategy. The first arrow goes through your head, the second through you heart and the third goes straight up your ........

1 ( +3 / -2 )


& this is Abe san's third arrow of reform?? Ohhhhhh, boy!

Be grateful that he's not using a machine gun!

-1 ( +1 / -2 )

Abe was planning a Japanese health system reform but then got a "third" arrow to the knee :P

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

There are many working Universal Health Systems operating in many countries that although are not perfect do give modern upto date Health Care! Do not have to reinvent the wheel.

1 ( +2 / -1 )

They are all on the take so both sides arguments are for their own personal benefit, just like in almost all countries when it comes to healthcare, economy, tax, banks, insurance and big industry etc, for example Japan Tobacco etc.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

Japan could easily afford to continue existing coverage and expand access to new treatments if it had or were willing to import young people. The problem is the declining and ageing population. Aso's hurry up and die remarks basically express the government's stance. They want to lure wealthy Asians to Japan for advanced treatment, and make it available to plutocrats like Abe and Aso, whilst leaving the great mass of people to place their fate in the hands of ill-trained internists who cannot even diagnose an ear infection or to witch doctors and acupuncturists.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

Battling 'risky' surgery? No the doctors in japan are a conservative, set in their ways, and don't want to learn new techniques.

-3 ( +1 / -4 )

Medical services here are not very good for your average Taro. Not sure allowing risky surgery is the way forward, but removing some of the institutionalised links between drugs comapnmnies and providers and opening market to more foreign doctors and nurses might be a start.

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

The so-called third arrow is the most important one of the bunch. Japan's economy is controlled more by the relationships between businesse, suppliers, and government, than it is by the people. This allows prices of many goods to be fixed at a certain level, and this level is far higher in Japan than in other developed countries. This was not a large issue when the poplulation and economy were both growing, but it is one of the main causes of the recent declines. Simply stated, Japanese people can't afford to buy very much anymore, nor can they afford to raise children.

The third arrow is supposedly aimed deregulating the economy. Since much of the economy is regulated by the government, Abe has a bit of power to control it, but most of the economy is regulated through relationships between companies, suppliers, and retailers. The third arrow has less effect here, but TPP is intended as a way to reduce or end these relationships by introducing goods or services over whom local companies have no control.

Surprisingly, many large companies are supporting both the third arrow and TPP; they know which way the current wind is blowing, and its not to a good place.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

something Japan can be proud of. all things can be improved but hope they don't go too far.

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

Login to leave a comment

Facebook users

Use your Facebook account to login or register with JapanToday. By doing so, you will also receive an email inviting you to receive our news alerts.

Facebook Connect

Login with your JapanToday account

User registration

Articles, Offers & Useful Resources

A mix of what's trending on our other sites