Healthcare and Medical Sector in Japan

Japan is the world’s 2nd largest market for both healthcare and medical devices. With nearly 45% of medical devices being imported, Japan is open to innovative and high quality products and technologies.

Market overview

Japan has the second largest healthcare market in the world with nearly 180,000 medical facilities including both hospitals and clinics. National medical expenditure in fiscal FY 2010 was ¥37.4 trillion (approx £249 billion @¥150 = £1), up 3.9% from the previous year. This was the record-high in terms of both level and growth rate, driven by implementation of cutting-edge medical technologies and also by one of the world fastest ageing populations.

Because of the ageing demographics, demand for assistive and care products has been on the rise. However, the market has already been equipped with a large variety of products making it extremely challenging to new entrants without unique selling points.

The Japanese medical devices market is also the world’s second largest, worth ¥2.4 trillion yen (approx. £16 billion) in 2011 and 44.4% of the products were supplied by overseas manufacturers. Japan has been known as a high-tech country, but in terms of medical devices, the market is still reliant on imports.

All Japanese citizens are covered by public medical insurance systems; and Japanese people are generally speaking very health conscious. These make the healthcare market one of most stable industry sectors in Japan irrespective of economic situations, thus the market has been seeing a number of new entrants from other manufacturing industries such as ICT or home electric appliances especially after the Lehman Shock in 2008.

Key opportunities

For the healthcare market, unique, sophisticated, and highly technical products are sought to assist elderly people, ranging from healthy elderly people to those with disabilities.

For the medical devices market, opportunities exist with advanced and innovative products for exports of finished products, joint R&D and technology licensing-out especially in the following areas:

  • Diagnostics systems and equipment

  • Novel medical treatments

  • Preventive healthcare

  • Infection control (products, rather than services)

Latest export opportunities – Healthcare & Medical

Latest export opportunities – Japan

Getting into the market

Finding good and loyal local business partners is key for both the healthcare and medical devices markets, rather than direct market entry. Medical devices are regulated under the Pharmaceutical Affairs Law (PAL) in Japan and local companies will be able to assist with regulatory issues and guide you through the best possible route and ways into the market.

Japanese companies put emphasis on developing the trust and mutual confidence that will lead to a strong, enduring relationships rather than on getting down to business instantly.

More about doing business in Japan


Market intelligence is critical when doing business overseas, and UKTI can provide bespoke market research and support during overseas visits though our chargeable Overseas Market Introduction Service (OMIS).

To commission research or for general advice about the market, get in touch with our specialists in country – or contact your local international trade team.

  • Hitomi Nakai, Consulate General Osaka. Tel: +81 (0)6 6120 5656 or email: [email protected]

  • Kaori Arai, British Embassy Tokyo. Tel: +81 (0)3 5211 1150 or email: [email protected].

Contact your local international trade team


UKTI runs a range of events for exporters, including seminars in the UK, trade missions to overseas markets and support for attendance at overseas trade shows.

Medical device and technologies:

International Modern Hospital Show

Dates:18-20 July 2013

Website address:


Dates:23-25 October 2013

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Dates: 9-11 April 2014

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Care and assistive products:

Home Care & Rehabilitation Exhibition

Dates: 18-20 September 2013

Website address:

Latest events – Healthcare & medical

Useful links

More about OMIS and other UKTI services for exporters

Sectors: Healthcare & Medical
Countries: Japan
Export Action Plan