Aging population in Japan – Opportunities for Health and Welfare Market

Japan is faced with sharp decline in the population and with increasing percentage of elderlies. The total population of 126.8 million (in 2017) is projected to decline by almost 25% by 2050. Since 2000, the number of Japanese people of working age has shrunk by 13%, and by 2040, more than one in three people in Japan will be over 65 years old.

Japan’s gross government debt has risen to close to 220% of GDP and Japan needs to find solutions to reduce the public spending on national medical and welfare insurance expenditure. From OECD Health Statistics 2017, average length of stay for inpatient care was 29 days in Japan (in 2015), where Norway and other OECD average was between 5.5 days to 11.4 days. Japan is trying to reduce the number of hospitalization days and establish a system for long-term home care.

Areas of opportunities in the welfare market: 
• Preventive care technologies
• Technologies to increase the quality of life for elderlies
• Technologies to reduce the burden on care givers
• Implementation of IT solutions to counter-measure the shortage of labour

Pharmaceutical market
There are over 20 major pharmaceutical companies in Japan, and it is often difficult for a small foreign company to enter into the Japanese market. Unless there is a unique strong product, it is quite challenging to find a development partner or distribution partner in the Japanese pharmaceutical market. Just to give some indications on how challenging the market is, some pharmaceutical companies screen over 10 000 opportunities annually, and only a few of them result in actual deals.

The highest rate of death of the elderly is cancers, followed by heart diseases and pneumonia.

In terms of elderlies, in 2012 the number of people with dementia was 4.62 million (1 out of 7 elderly people) and in 2025, 1 out of 5 people will likely to be diagnosed with dementia.

Japanese giant pharma companies are setting clear focus on their development strategies, and the following areas are showing stronger demand:
• Oncology
• Neuroscience
• Digestive diseases
• Cardiovascular diseases
• Regenerative medicine
• Orphan diseases, etc.

Medical device market
There is a number of major medical device producers in Japan. The major competing product categories include diagnostic imaging equipment, therapeutic and surgical equipment, monitoring systems, home therapeutic equipment, dialyzers, endoscopes, etc.

Regulatory issues
In such industries as welfare, health, pharmaceutical and medical devices, the market is heavily regulated. Most products, technologies and medication must be approved by the Japanese authorities. Sometimes the approval process takes much longer than in Europe.

Conclusion
It is very important and necessary for Norwegian companies to be willing, able and ready, if they consider entering the Japanese market. The efforts are resource consuming, but the result might be entrance into a rewarding market.

If you want to discuss your products with us or request more information, please contact:
Hiroko Tominaga
Senior Market Adviser
Innovation Norway, Tokyo
Hiroko.Tominaga@innovationnorway.no



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Den norske ambassaden i Tokyo

Som verdens tredje største økonomi er Japan en økonomisk og demografisk trendsetter, med stor kjøpekraft og en ledende rolle innen teknologi.

Norge eksporterer for det meste fisk og fiskeprodukter, mineraler, kjemiske produkter, maskiner og metaller. I tillegg til samarbeid innenfor vitenskap, teknologi, forskning og utdanning, har Norge og Japan lenge hatt gode diplomatiske relasjoner. Dette gjør Japan til et ideelt marked for nyskapende norske bedrifter.

Japan er et utfordrende marked, hvor det er fokus på å bygge langvarige relasjoner. Tillit er nøkkelen til gode forretningsforbindelser, og de bygges ofte på referanser og introduksjoner. Kvalitet på japanske produkter og salgsprosesser er generelt høy, og japanerne har en bred definisjon på hva service er. Å holde tidsrammer, selv når det er ferier og helligdager, forventes. Det er også viktig å rette seg etter deres jobbstil.