The Journal The Authority on Global Business in Japan

As American Chamber of Commerce in Japan (ACCJ) President Sachin N. Shah explained in our March issue, “The ACCJ will prioritize the following five cross-cutting advocacy themes aimed at ‘unlocking Japan’s growth potential’ while aligning with both the chamber’s mission and the policy agendas of the US and Japanese governments:

  • US–Japan Economic Partnership
  • Digital Economy
  • Health and Retirement
  • Tourism, Sports, and Hospitality
  • Workforce Productivity

“By prioritizing these issues,” Shah said, “we aim to focus the chamber’s voice, foster more collaboration between committees, and promote US businesses as a source of global best practices.”

One of the ACCJ’s key advocacy projects during 2018 focuses on the third of these—Health and Retirement—as the Healthcare Committee and its subcommittees work to align their advocacy agendas with the chamber’s overall advocacy framework.

The Healthcare Committee strives to stimulate multi-stakeholder partnerships and discussions that will drive healthcare transformation by identifying practical, tangible actions and providing innovative solutions that address patient needs and
ensure the sustainability of Japan’s health-care system.

Some 320 members comprise the Health­care Committee and its subcommittees—Dietary Supplements, Digital Health, Medical Devices & Diagnostics, Pharmaceuticals, and Regenerative Medicines & Biosciences—and all seek to improve understanding of how inno­vative medicines and tech­nologies can contribute to the Government of Japan’s vision for greater workforce productivity and economic growth through periodic break­­fast and luncheon speaker events and other activities.

There is much talk about the aging of society. People aged 65 and older make up 28.2 percent of Japan’s population and the ratio is projected to grow to 34.4 percent by 2038, according to the National Institute of Population and Social Security Research. This demo­graphic shift will affect the country in many ways. When it comes to healthcare, the system will have to deliver more—and better—care with fewer resources.

The 2018 pharmaceutical pricing reform was particularly harsh for innova­tive manufacturers, with a significant reduction in scope of the Price Mainte­nance Premium (PMP) and new rules to further cut prices. The three-year cap of a ¥1.5 trillion increase in social welfare spending put in place by the Japanese government in 2016 expires this year, and is expected to be newly addressed in the 2018 honebuto (Basic Policy on Economic and Fiscal Management and Reform).

While such changes are an under­standable reaction to the pressures being placed on society, the resources that will be required in the years to come cannot be squeezed out of the existing system through price cuts. A funda­mental transformation is required. Only through such a transformation can Japan ensure the long-term sustainability of universal healthcare and become a model for other aging nations.

The Sustainable Health & Retirement Initiative will develop a multiple-stakeholder, proactive blueprint for the future sustainability of Japan’s social security system.

The ACCJ recognizes that such a system requires innovation and action in multiple sectors, and that support from the Japanese government, employers, and related industries—including banking, insurance, pharmaceuticals, medical devices, and health IT—is critical.

Two key deliverables will come out of the project:

  • Sustainable health & retirement white paper
  • Half-day sustainable health & retirement summit

The framework and key talking points are being developed with an eye towards the second meeting of the F500 CEO Council. This will be the first opportunity to interact directly with senior business leaders and representatives of the Japanese government, and will help guide the drafting of the white paper, which ACCJ leaders will share with media and in a Diet Doorknock.

The summit, featuring guest speakers and attendees from the government, will also take place this fall and will provide an in-depth examination of the issues facing Japan and the transformation needed to ensure a healthy future.