Japan: Historical and Current Dimensions of Health and Health Equity


in Challenging Inequities in Health

Published in print July 2001 | ISBN: 9780195137408
Published online September 2009 | e-ISBN: 9780199863983 | DOI:
Japan: Historical and Current Dimensions of Health and Health Equity

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Japan has attracted considerable attention as a country with one of the highest life expectancies and lowest infant mortality rates in the world. The focus on impressive gains in average health indicators may have obscured the issue of inequalities in health within Japan. This chapter starts by examining the long-term historical antecedents of the unparalleled improvements in the population's health as a whole. It then analyzes patterns of past, current, and future health inequalities in Japanese society. The analysis reveals significant inequalities in health according to average wealth, income distribution, education levels, television ownership (a indirect marker of income), and occupational grouping. This and other research over recent years calls into question the “classlessness” of Japanese society and the need to remain vigilant to the ways that social or health systems may still generate inequities.

Keywords: Japan; historical; current; health equity; inequalities

Chapter.  6450 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Public Health and Epidemiology

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