Granted, some of these cases could be people going to hospitals that did not have the facilities to deal with a particular emergency, but this is a huge number of people being refused.
But these are just the EMERGENCY patients! What about the non-emergency cases in which people are left taking cabs, subways, or driving around the city looking for health care?
talks about a shortage of doctors being one of the causes of this. The implication is that the cause is the oft cited “rapidly aging society” in Japan… however I’ve heard tv news shows say that Japan has more dentists than convenience stores. If that is true, the problem lies more with the younger generation choosing the easier path to doctorhood.
Note: If you are used to the system in the United States you’d be surprised and a little scared by how easy it is to become a dentist or veterinarian in Japan (as compared with becoming a general practitioner, surgeon, or other type of doctor).
I guess what I’m trying to say is that this are other factors to look at when thinking of Japan’s social problems than the pat answer “rapidly aging society”.
I also want to point out that one of the biggest social problems is this emergency room problem described in the article here.
There have also been a few cases of pregnant women being refused admittance and subsequently dying or miscarrying. This is definitely a social problem I’d like to keep an eye on.