Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe wants to promote the advanced medical technology industry as part of a plan to breathe new life into the economy – but the country’s doctors’ lobby is opposing what they say is risky surgery.
Health care has become the latest battleground in Abe’s efforts to craft a strategy to engineer growth in the world’s third biggest economy, the so-called “Third Arrow” of his economic turnaround plan.
The plans include changes to the country’s universal health insurance system – as cherished in Japan as the National Health Service is in Britain – in order to boost growth by increasing demand for innovative drugs and medical devices.
The debate is being cast as a litmus test of Abe’s commitment to deregulation as he attempts to revitalise Japan’s stagnant economy. It also illustrates the opposition that Abe, who returned to power after his Liberal Democratic Party’s (LDP) big election win in December, faces from within his own camp.