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What Can America Learn from Japan?

Health Outcomes in Japan Are Significantly Better Than Those in the US, Even Though the US Spends Much More on Health Care

After the devastating consequences of the World War II the population of Japan was suffering from very poor level of health. Today this country turns out to have the highest life expectancy in the whole world (Bezruchka, Namekata & Sistrom 2008). This massive improvement happened due to the re-establishment of Confucian principles of state structure.

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What Can the US Learn from This Country?

The country’s leaders worked on creating special programs that launched waves of health promotion in Japan. The waves were directed at stimulation of growth of health industry (Okamoto 2008). This is what the United States could learn from the Japanese idea of health promotion. The American leaders could spend less money advertising medications, and put more effort into promotion of healthy lifestyle.

Japan’s Heath Status

Health care in Japan is very developed. This country’s life expectancy is over eighty four years (Life Expectancy at Birth n. d.). Total population of Japan includes over one hundred and twenty eight million people (Japan 2014). The Japanese are very proud of the quality of their health care system (Health Care in Japan 2011). The statistics also show that even though the average life expectancy is long, the population of Japan is shrinking due to rapid ageing (Ikeda et al. 2011).

How Reconstruction after World War II Contributed to Japan’s Contemporary Health Status

After the World War II Japanese country leaders had to employ many changes. The political structure of the country became more democratized. The feature that makes this country stand out is the lack of focus on individual gains. This helped the Japanese leaders achieve better health status.

One Significant Political Feature and One Legal Feature of Japan’s Contemporary Health Care System that Contributes to Japan’s Population Health Status

Japan succeeded at building and maintaining egalitarian society due to the legal practice of a life-time employment (Kawachi, Fujusawa & Takao 2007). Social capital is the political practice that helped raise the health status in Japan (Hamada & Takao 2008). This practice is based on high democratic polity.

Two Reasons of the Disparity between the Japanese and the American Populations in Health Achievement

Culturally the people of Japan have the group mentality that makes them think about the better outcomes for the whole society, instead of being individualistic. American society is very individualistic and most people of the United States are taught to achieve their own happiness, being self-sufficient and independent. These are two very different sets of values. Besides, the level of income equality in Japan is higher, while the gap between the rich and the poor in the United States is huge and growing.

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Two Lessons Other Countries Can Learn from the Japanese Experience

First of all, the idea of group mentality is a great practice for any society. New policies in any field are accepted quicker and work better in a society with the group mentality. The second lesson is the importance of health promotion. The main effort should be put into the practice of healthy lifestyle, healthy eating and sport.


The scientists notice that Japanese people’s behavior is very unusual for a Western observer (Bezruchka n. d). The people of Japan are always in groups; their workplaces have strict organization and precise structure. The developed system of social support and the Confucian principles in the political built of the state have increased the productivity of health care policies in Japan. Social inequality in Japan is growing these days and it seems like their very strong health care has a tendency to fail in several aspects (Aida et al. 2011).


Japanese health care is considered one of the strongest in the world, Japanese life expectancy is very high. It took this country’s leaders several decades to achieve impressive results and develop very productive policies to improve the population’s health status after the World War II.

Reference list

Aida, J., Kondo, K., Sheiham, A. & Tsakos, G. (2011). Income Inequality, Social Capital and Self-Rated Health and Dental Status in Older Japanese. Social Science & Medicine, 73(10), 1561-1568.

Bezruchka, S., Namekata, T., & Sistrom, M. G. (2008). Interplay of politics and law to promote health: Improving economic equality and health: The case of postwar Japan. American Journal of Public Health,98(4), 589–594.

Bezruchka, S. Health Status in Japan. Web.

Hamada, J. & Takao, S. (2008). Policy Implications of Social Capital for the Japanese Social Security System. Acta Medica Okayama, 62(5), 275-283.

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Health Care in Japan. The Economist. Web.

Ikeda, N. Saito, E. Kondo, N., Inoue, M., Saton, T. (2011). What Has Made the Population of Japan Healthy? Lancet, 378(9796), 1094-1105.

Japan. World Health Organization. Web.

Kawachi, I., Fujisawa, Y., & Takao, S. (2007). The health of Japanese—What can we learn from America? Japanese National Institute of Public Health, 56(2), 114–121.

Life Expectancy at Birth. CIA. Web.

Okamoto, E. (2008). Public health of Japan 2008. Web.

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