Here’s this week’s Media Mix, which is about the main reason behind the Japanese government’s improvisational response to the COVID-19 crisis. We’ve been covering this general topic for years now. The gist of our interest is that Japan has a national health insurance program that provides excellent, affordable care to every resident, but the government’s obsession with market dynamics combined with the medical industry’s profit-making impulses, can undermine the fundamental purpose of health care, which is to improve lives. In this column we explain how ongoing cost-cutting measures first implemented in the 1980s created a situation in which Japan was unprepared for the pandemic. For anyone who is interested, here are links to some other articles we have written on the same general theme.
Also, near the end of this week’s column we mention JCP lawmaker Tomoko Tamura, who we should point out has been prosecuting the government’s approach to medical care for some time. She may know more about Japan’s health care system than any current lawmaker, and the media should be paying closer attention to her work. Mostly they treat her as an opposition force who is effective at making the ruling party squirm, which is fine. We need more people who can do that. But what she’s really after, which is to improve the health care system rather than make it merely cost effective, is really what the press should be covering.