With more than 25 percent of its population being 65 years of age or older, Japan has the world’s largest aging population. This number is expected to rise to 33 percent by 2030 as the country’s fertility rate remains below replacement level.
While various problems arise from Japan’s demographic challenges, their medical technology and healthcare industries have found solutions to the problems of its elderly population. While some of these difficulties are unique to Japan, other countries will face similar issues in the near future.
“So far, we have developed medical devices fit for Japanese patients’ body size and diseases. Because we have the basic technology and manufacturing knowhow, in the future, we can establish centers in different parts of the world and research which devices would be most fit for the people living in those countries,” said Tokai Medical Products (TMP) Chairman and Founder Nobumasa Tsutsui.
TMP, which dominates the domestic market, produces high-quality catheters with a wide range of applications, such as cardiovascular, abdominal and neurological intervention.
“We have a new product that saves newborn babies’ lives,” said Tsutui. “Some babies have problems with the pulmonary valves in their hearts that allow them to live only for limited terms. This congenital disease occurs in a very small number of patients; and the development of products for newborn babies is very difficult because we have to develop the smallest catheter in the world— only 0.3 mm in diameter. Yet, we did it.”
After finding success in Japan with the launch of this niche product, TMP sees the need to tap into the global market, supplying its device to as many countries as possible in order to help as many babies as possible.
“Our company is not after profit. What we are trying to do is provide good things for the patients and make people happy. We want to save lives. And I believe that’s the reason why our company is growing,” said Tsutsui.
From medical equipment to cosmetics, a wide variety of companies, such as medical information provider MRT, Inc. has found success in the domestic market and have seen the opportunity to go global.
“In terms of remote services and technology, there are several companies around the world equipped with similar technology. But MRT is the first company that has applied this to the medical field in Japan,” said MRT President and Founder Toshimasa Baba.
“Japan is at the forefront of an aging population. But 10 to 20 years down the line, there will be many other countries confronted with this dilemma. So our business model will be applicable to other countries around the world in the future. We hope our business would be helpful in coping with the problem,” Baba added.