The Japanese Health Ministry plans to set up healthcare bases across the country in preparation for the Tokyo Summer Olympics happening in 2020. The facilities are to be aimed at foreigners residing and visiting the country, who would need medical attention, but could not speak the Japanese language.
A budget of 146 million yen (approx. US$1.43 million) will be allotted this year in preparation for this plan. The Health Ministry will choose 30 medical facilities in areas across Japan that have a large number of foreign residents and designate them as a “base.” The facilities will also have trained staff who can speak foreign languages, like English, Chinese, Portuguese, and others, to help explain treatments and procedures to foreigners. The bases will not be limited to treating foreigners at their centers, but will also support other local spots, such as sending out interpreters to assist foreign patients.
The move hopes to address the issue of foreign residents living and visiting Japan who need healthcare. Some, because of very few people who can speak their language, opt to leave and visit nearby cities and countries like Hong Kong and Singapore, to get necessary treatment there. As such, some experts said that multinational companies are hesitant in investing in Japan because of difficulty in communicating with the representatives they send to the country and its locals. The Health Ministry also intends to improve the general hospitals across the country to enable them to serve foreigners better. A plan to create a training curriculum for medical interpreters, interview sheets for foreigners, and written materials to explain different medical procedures are being prepared to enhance healthcare services.