Health Care in Japan

Health Insurance

All residents of Japan are required to enroll in a health insurance plan. Foreigners working full time for a Japanese company usually are included in that company’s health insurance plan.

Healthcare in Japan is Much Different Than in the United States

Foreigners who are either self-employed or part-time company employees are covered by the National Health Insurance Plan.

Under the latter plan, the patient is required to pay only 30 percent or less of all medical expenses depending on the employer’s contribution. Any foreigner who has completed alien registration and has permission to reside in Japan is eligible for national health insurance. Costs vary regionally, and if you’ve been working in Japan for over a year, your premiums will be based on your income for the previous year.

You can enroll for national health insurance at the insurance counter of your local ward or municipal office. Remember to carry your national health insurance card at all times. If you receive emergency medical treatment without presenting your card, you may be required to pay the full medical bill. However, 70 percent of this amount can usually be reclaimed at a later date by taking the hospital bill receipt to your local ward or municipal office.

Vaccination Requirements

There are no vaccinations required for Japan; however, it is a good idea to make sure your rabies and tetanus shots are up-to-date, and vaccination for hepatitis A is strongly recommended.

If you are planning on living in or spending a significant amount of time traveling in a rural area, get vaccination for Japanese encephalitis, which is a mosquito-borne disease.

Contact the Traveler’s Clinic at a local university health center or a doctor who specializes in travel medicine to ensure that there are no new health risks. Another good source of up-to-the-minute information on vaccination requirements and disease information is the Center for Disease Control and Prevention. Their website is regularly updated for each country.


If you plan to carry prescription drugs into the country with you, bring a copy of the prescription information and leave the medication in its original, labeled container. Some inhalers and allergy, sinus, and over-the-counter drugs containing amphetamines are illegal to bring into Japan.


There are many modern hospitals in Japan. To learn about facilities near where you will be staying, simply go online and search for hospitals.

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