Affluent Chinese patients go to Japan


Chinese medical tourism agency, XK Med, says its clientele is mainly middle-class. Its fees (not including travel) start around US$10,000 for a trip to Japan, which includes setting up the appointment with the hospital, a place to stay, and a translator’s services.

Chinese patients have transformed Japan into a leading destination for medical tourism. While South Korea remains a top cosmetic-surgery destination, Chinese patients seem to prefer going to Germany and Japan to treat cancer or chronic conditions.

According to Japan’s Foreign Ministry 70 medical visas were issued in 2011 when the government first introduced the special visa category. By 2018, the number had increased to 1,650, 84% of which were for visiting Chinese patients.

With the market liberalisation, more hospitals in Japan are ready to receive foreign patients and have loosened the admission criteria. Meanwhile China’s health care system is a major issue. Hospitals are understaffed, modern technologies are missing, healthcare practitioners are overstretched, and long waits are very common. 

Japan targets high-net-worth Chinese patients, and has created a range of mid- to high-level services. In addition to the attraction of state-of-the-art medical treatments and facilities, Chinese customers go to Japan because of medical tourism packages, concierge services and more medical staff learning Chinese. 

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