2017 New Year’s Greetings


First and foremost, I wish everyone a Happy New Year.

Reflecting back on this past year, I feel that it has been quite a turbulent one. There were many large events that occurred, constantly changing headlines and shaking political, economic, and social environments both within and beyond our borders.

Events such as Brexit and the U.S. presidential election have impacted us heavily, making the future seem unpredictable and unsure. It is possible that we are entering a time where we can no longer rely on what we have considered as “common sense” up until now.

In such an era of such uncertainty, we should not aimlessly stir up anxiety nor spread groundless optimism. What becomes necessary instead is for us to hold fast to the compasses that will lead us to our goals, so that we may overcome obstacles both large and small while addressing various changes in a flexible manner.

The Japanese social security system has undergone repeated partial optimization on the basis of so-called “patch-work” revisions of the system, and now requires innovation with a long-term perspective. The time has come for us to share our values and visions in order to reformulate health care, not simply maintain the current system by increasing burdens and reducing benefits. The same can be said about global health.

In Japan, health care has been dependent on the public medical insurance program, primarily focusing on medical treatment. However, we are in the midst a historical change, one in which companies, academia, and governmental agencies have begun taking part in maintaining the core roles of our health care ecosystem, making it into a platform for communal activities.

The era where we rely solely on the hard work of medical institutions and health care providers is coming to an end. Instead, we are moving onto a time where we encourage individual development, so that each can live and use their abilities to their fullest; a time for limitless innovation, ingenuity and wisdom.

May 2017 be a good year for all of us.

Kenji Shibuya, MD, DrPH
President of JIGH