Tokyo — With a shortage of doctors having brought medical services in Japan’s provincial regions to the brink of collapse, the country’s Health, Labor and Welfare Ministry has begun its first-ever nationwide survey of hospitals to measure the extent of the problem.
Though the ministry has conducted regular surveys to learn the numbers of doctors, this is its first survey focusing on the gap between the number of doctors working and the number of doctors needed.
The latest survey aims to precisely measure the shortage and the uneven distribution of doctors across the country. The ministry began distributing questionnaires via prefectural governments Friday.
The ministry plans to compile an outline of the survey result as early as this summer.
Though the government plans to significantly increase the number of prospective doctors, it does not know how many doctors will be necessary to cover the current shortage.
Experts assume the numbers differ among regions and medical specialties, but there have been no comprehensive national data compiled on the point.