English-Supporting Hospitals in Japan
This article is provided by Accept International (COVID-19 Assistance Service for Foreigners in Japan).
Medical institutions in Japan, covering nurses, doctors, and receptionists, who can speak foreign languages, are very limited. In addition, most of the documents related to medical examinations and guidance displays in the hospital are written only in Japanese. In that case, we can assume that it might be a worry for a non-Japanese speaker foreigner to receive appropriate treatment.
Even mostly don’t speak English, there are some medical institutions with English support that is foreigner-friendly.
About Japanese Medical Institution System
In Japan, there is no hospital that treats all health problems like general practitioners. Therefore, if you get sick or injured, you need to go to the department that suits your symptoms. For example, if you have a cold or fever, you will be needed to go to the internist or otolaryngology department. If you have a rash, go to the dermatology department. If you have a bone or muscle injury, go to the surgery department, and if you have an eye disorder, go to the ophthalmology department.
Generally, large hospitals such as general hospitals and university hospitals have multiple departments, so if you mention the symptoms at the reception, you will be connected to the appropriate department. However, local clinics basically support only one department or two specialized fields at the most. Therefore, you need to carefully choose the hospital that suits you to get appropriate medical treatment.
How to Find a Medical Institution That Supports English
With the increase in foreign residents in Japan in these recent years, in addition to the hosting of the Tokyo Olympics, the Japanese government is working to improve medical services for foreigners.
Japan Medical Service Accreditation for International Patients (JMIP) that starts in 2012 is a system to certify medical institutions with an environment where foreign nationals can receive medical treatment with peace of mind.
The minimum criteria for certification are the availability of multilingual speakers with medical knowledge for smooth communication with foreign patients and the availability of multi-languages information.
The official website of JMIP is operated in four languages, Japanese, English, Chinese, and Korean, and you can see a list of certified medical institutions. If you find a hospital that suits your condition, call the medical institution once to make an appointment.
Japan Hospital Search for International Patients
Japan Hospital Search is operated by NPO Medical Excellence Japan and provides a list of medical institutions all over Japan that are ready to accept foreign patients. The site is available in Japanese, English, Chinese, and Russian.
All Japan Relocation
The All Japan Relocation website lists medical institutions that are able to support English or English-speaking staff and volunteers.
Himawari (Tokyo Medical Institution / Pharmacy Information Service)
If you live in Tokyo, the website Tokyo Medical Information Himawari operated by Tokyo might be very helpful for you. The website contains information on medical institutions, which is very useful and well-organized under the government of Tokyo, available in Japanese, English, Chinese, and Korean.
The number of hospitals that support multiple languages is increasing year by year, but most of them are general hospitals and university hospitals. In most cases, a letter of reference written by a nearby medical institution is required to receive a medical examination at such a large hospital. If you do not have the letter, it will cost about 2000-5000 yen as the first consultation fee.
Furthermore, many English-supporting hospitals are concentrated in urban areas, so it may be difficult for people living in rural areas to find such hospitals nearby.
If You Need Any Help…
Please feel free to contact Accept International, a non-profit organization that various supports and assistances in many fields for foreigners living in Japan, from applying for financial support caused by COVID-19 by the Japanese government, providing information about vaccination, employment support, and mediation to various counters.
Regarding medical treatment, we would be happy to help you if you do not know which hospital to go to or having difficulty getting a medical examination due to financial matters. If necessary, an interpreter can accompany you or mediate by phone, so please feel free to consult with us.