Business Monitor International

Understanding Japan's Regional Health Markets

Published 01 August 2012

  • 327 pages
  • Instant access to your report in PDF format through your account library
Understanding Japan's Regional Health Markets

Executive Summary

Economic:Japan has one of the world's largest and wealthiest economies. GDP was valued at US$5,871 billion in 2011, behind the USA and China. This was equal to US$45,939 per capita. The EIU expects real GDP to rise by 1.7% in 2012 as Japan recovers from the effects of the March 2011 earthquake and tsunami.

Demography:Japan is the ninth most populous country in the world, although the population is gradually decreasing. Official estimates show that the percentage of the population aged 65 or over will rise to 41% by 2055. Japan's IMR is the lowest in the world, falling each year since 1995. Life expectancy at birth both for males and females, is among the world's highest, at 79.3 years and 86.1 years respectively.

Health Status:

The health status of Japan's population is among the best in the world. The country has the one of the world's lowest infant mortality rates, the highest life expectancy for women and the fourth highest for men. As a result, Japan has the world's highest proportion of people aged over 65 years.

Healthcare Expenditure:The principal source of funding for health in Japan is through the social insurance system. Japan spends the second highest amount on healthcare in the world, estimated at US$491.9 billion in 2011. In per capita terms this equals US$3,888.

Primary Care:With no system of general practitioners, a patient's first contact with the healthcare system in Japan is primarily at a hospital outpatient department or medical clinic. Consequently, Japan has the highest rate of outpatient visits in the world by some margin. In 2010, outpatient visits stood at a rate of 23,633 per 1,000 population.

Hospital Care:Japan has some of the most sophisticated hospitals in the world and leads the rankings in terms of the number of beds per person (12.6 per thousand population). Only China has more beds overall. However, Japan also has the world's highest ALOS rate in the world, by a significant distance, owing to the large...

A forensic analysis with statistics on national and regional health infrastructure and provision. An essential source of highly detailed business data.

The popular view of the Japanese health market contains much myth and assumption. Despite long term economic woes and the impact of the tsunami in March 2011, Japan’s position as the world’s 2nd biggest market by health expenditure represents a technologically advanced country self sufficient in meeting the needs of its health system and population. But will that be true in the future?

Any assessment of Japan must consider the impact of recent natural disasters, and the economic and demographic challenges that are influencing the development of the health market.

  • How is wealth distributed regionally?
  • Which regions produce the highest levels of GDP and does that correlate to increased health spending?
  • How is Japan’s increasingly elderly population distributed across the country?
  • How is healthcare delivered?

Identifying opportunities in Japan’s health economy requires being able to see the economic performance and health infrastructure at a regional as well as the national level.

Rich in statistics, charts and maps, this new 194-page report from Espicom Understanding Japan’s Regional Health Markets takes you further into understanding the national and regional health environments.

Japan’s population of 121 million is ageing fast. Their distribution, however, is inconsistent with an urban/rural divide opening up: how is this impacting regional health economies, which are most affected and what are the implications for medical product suppliers?


  • Japan is an archipelago consisting of 6,852 islands, the 4 largest of which account for 97% of the country’s 377,835 land area.
  • The population of Japan totalled 128.1 million in 2010. The population had been in decline since 2007, but 2010 marked a return to growth, with an increase of 546,000.
  • The country is organised into 8 districts which are further subdivided into 47 administrative prefectures. Economic and health data is provided in the report to these levels.


All developed nations to a greater or lesser degree are experiencing an increase in the number of elderly as a % of their population, but no other country is in Japan’s position.

While the proportion of elderly people in Japan has been steadily rising, a falling birth rate has seen the under fifteen age group decline. In 1990 there were 22.5 million aged 0-14 years. By 2010, that figure had fallen to 16.8 million people or 13.2% of the total population.

Correspondingly, the number of people in the over 65 age group has risen steadily, increasing over 20 years from 14.9 million to 29.3 million – or 23.1%.

This is a long term trend. It is estimated that by 2060, over 40% of the population will be aged over 65 years, while people of working age who will bear the financial burden of caring for the elderly, will only represent under half of the population.

In addition, there has been considerable migration to urban areas by younger Japanese attracted to employment prospects, so much so that the aged population in some rural regions is already creating a notable disparity in health spending.


For suppliers of health products being able to assess the make-up and distribution of the Japanese population is critical. Consider the information below for Akita and Kanagawa.

  • Akita: This northern region has a declining population and the highest proportion of the elderly in the whole country, with over 30% of its citizens aged over 65 years. Unsurprisingly, indicators such as average length of stay are higher than the national average – per capita health spend is US$312 – more than the Japanese average.
  • Kanagawa: Kanagawa’s population increased by 2.9% between 2005 and 2010, second only to Tokyo in terms of growth. Population drift is evidenced by the fact that the proportion of the elderly in Kanagawa is among Japan’s lowest at 20.2%.
GDP per capita
Population growth
% Population over 65
Medical expenditure per capita
Av. length of stay (Days)
Doctors rate per ‘000
Yen 265,000
Yen 263,000


Benefit from discounts when you add multiple products to your basket
2 Products SAVE 10%
3 Products SAVE 15%
4 Products SAVE 20%
5 Products SAVE 25%
6 Products SAVE 30%
7 - 20 Products SAVE 35%
21 Products or more SAVE 40%