Greetings and salutations from your friends at J-List once again, once again coming from America’s Finest City, San Diego.
The world of Health Care is quite different in Japan than it is in the U.S., but works very well. There are two kinds of health insurance, Social Insurance (Shakai Hoken), a system run in cooperation with private insurance companies, intended for employees of larger companies; and the nationally-run Citizens’ Insurance (Kokumin Hoken), an insurance system for all families individuals not covered by Social Insurance. Formerly, the Kokumin insurance system covered only 70% of medical expenses, while the more complete Shakai system covered 90% — but the Japanese government recently reduced the Shakai coverage to 70% as well, so there’s not much difference in the systems. Medical care for children under 5 and everyone over age 70 is 100% free in Japan (there might be charges for medicines, I am not sure). It was kind of disappointing that back when America was debating the possibility of a national health insurance system, the Japanese system did not seem to be discussed or considered at all. With Japanese living the longest of anyone in the world, despite very high numbers of smokers, their health care system has to be a part of this success.
Going to the doctor can be challenging for foreigners living in Japan, especially if you don’t speak Japanese. Fortunately, all doctors in Japan have studied years of English as part of their medical training, and know the complex English and Latin term of every disease in the book, whether or not you’ve heard of it. When the nurse hands you the little thermometer, don’t do like I did and put it in your mouth — in Japan, temperatures are always taken in the armpit, not orally (ewww!). Japanese dentists are famous for trying to get you to come back thirty times for your dental work, presumably because they’re only allowed to charge a certain amount per day to your insurance, but doctors don’t do that, and are happy to cure you in as few visits as possible.
One thing has changed recently, though. In the past, it’s been common for doctors offices and hospitals to give you “white pills, blue pills, and pink powder” with no explanation as to what each medicine is supposed to do. I’ve noticed a definite change here, though — when I went to the doctor two weeks ago, I was given a detailed print-out with explanations of each medicine. This is as a direct result of gaijin like me, living in Japan and observing things that could be improved, like the information patients are given about medications. One of the major “engines for change” in Japan is in fact its population of foreigners, whose observations have helped Japan see the need for a child carseat law (they got their first in 1999). Japan is said to be the only country that cares about what its foreign population thinks, but care they do, as there are many books on Japan written by “experts” who have lived here (and many are published and widely read in Japanese). Incidentally, every book in print on Japan seems to work in the famous Japanese proverb “the standing nail is driven” when describing Japanese society and why it discourages standing out from the crowd.
In Japan, the hardworking Japanese staff has posted another great update of products, with many dozens of new items from Japan for you to browse — magazines, manga, DVDs, toys, and other wacky things from Japan. We’ve got everything from “wata choco” (cotton chocolate?) to rare indies DVDs to authentic Japanese Transformers toys to lovely swimsuit idol photobooks from Japan. So please check out the new and updated items! (Remember you can use the handy “three days” link on the main J-List page to see all items posted or updated in the past three days.)
The J-Mate site has been updated with new reviews of excellent titles by one of my favorite AV idols, Akira Watase. J-Mate (http://www.jmate.com) is a cool site where you can read reviews of DVDs and bishoujo game products from Japan, as well as read real interviews with AV idols, translated into English. Remember we’re always interested in people who are willing to write up their reviews of products they love (or hate). We hope you’ll contribute something to the site.
Well, that’s all for this update. Thanks, and we’ll see you next time!