OECD Reviews of Public Health: Japan

A Healthier Tomorrow

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This review assesses Japan's public health system, highlights areas of strength and weakness, and makes a number of recommendations for improvement. The review examines Japan's public health system architecture, and how well policies are responding to population health challenges, including Japan's ambition of maintaining good population health, as well as promoting longer healthy life expectancy for the large and growing elderly population. In particular, the review assesses Japan's broad primary prevention strategy, and extensive health check-ups programme, which is the cornerstone of Japan's secondary prevention strategy. The review also examines Japan's exposure to public health emergencies, and capacity to respond to emergencies as and when they occur.



Primary prevention and the Health Japan 21 strategy

To address the challenge of rising prevalence of non-communicable diseases (NCDs), Japan has increased the focus on primary prevention. The Health Japan 21 strategy provides a nation-wide framework to improve population health through interventions in workplaces, schools and local communities, focusing on diets, physical activity, smoking cessation and alcohol consumption. However, there exists a wide diversity in approach and focus among the isolate local initiatives, and there are few mechanisms to ensure quality or to disseminate successful practices. In addition, Japan should consider implementing population-level policies to support the impact of local interventions by creating a health promoting environment, such as banning smoking in public places, regulating food, tobacco and alcohol advertising, restricting alcohol sales, and labelling of tobacco, alcohol and food products with warning labels.


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