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hiroshi
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Mr. Mike_R: I feel like your comment is somewhat uncalled for. If you truly understood the problems that the Japanese medical system is facing, it doesn't have much to do with xenophobia or racism (which I admit exists in Japan, but seriously... not to discount this issue, but it exists everywhere). Rather years of poor judgment call by bureaucrats taking away the much necessary funding from hospitals in the name of cutting medical expenses explains a big part of the problem, although it's not really as simple as that. Lack of a strong political leadership for god knows how long, and Koizumi's structural reforms are also contributory factors. Besides, in terms of the medical profession, I'd say Japan is fairly open to foreign nationals provided they have the appropriate language skills (proven by a language proficiency exam) along with medical knowledge (proven by passing the Japanese licensing exam) and clinical experience (3 years at the country where you trained in medicine), which are all absolutely necessary for treating patients properly. Being US-trained, I will eventually have to deal with such issues when I return to Japan, but in my eyes, these measures are for maintaining a high standard of care for patients. Actually, US is stricter in some ways, because no matter what level of training you are at, foreign-trained physicians have to start from scratch as a resident (after passing the licensing exam, that is). That's how you might come across a Chinese cardiologist doing an internal medicine residency, sometimes knowing more than their attending physician. As for the declining birth rate, that's another story. I apologize for ranting, but I agree it is sad how Aiiku (which was built by the Showa emperor in celebration of his son's birth) and many other hospitals are becoming smaller and smaller.