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.



The Public Health System in Japan

Japan, which has the longest lived population in the world is taking public health seriously as a key objective of central and local governments. Relative to most OECD countries levels of risky health behaviour are low, but like Japan’s OECD peers a growing burden of non-communicable diseases, and a growing elderly population, are significant health challenges. This chapter, which appraises the overall architecture Japan’s public health system, points to areas of strength and weakness. In particular, this chapter stresses that in a highly decentralised system, where local government has significant responsibility for delivery of public health actions, Japan must establish a careful combination of strong central strategic leadership, local autonomy and responsiveness to local needs, and sharing of best practice across regions, and across sectors.


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