Monday, June 20, 2011

Letter from Japan


As my regular readers will know, I have been ranting a lot recently about the gross mismanagement of Ireland's economy and public service. I received this interesting letter from Peter (full name supplied) which gives a glimpse of how the Japanese do things from an Irish mans perspective. Peter has given his permission to publish the letter in full, just withholding contact details. 

Thank you Peter.

The Letter from Japan

Hello Tony,

I have just read your blog, mostly 2011 issues and feel relieved that normally people like you are speaking up. If Ireland had a society similar to France/Greece/Spain then the fat cats would have serious problems.

Having graduated as an engineer 15 years ago, I moved to Japan for a 2 year contract but found my feet here and enjoy it. I sincerely would like to return to Ireland and started looking into possible moves about 4 years ago but the writing was on the wall and thankfully didn't. Living here has given me the opportunity to see another culture, the way it interacts, and at the same time being isolated from the boom era has also increased my shock every time I visit Ireland.

Now that I have children and look into the associated cost here compared to Ireland and find it unbelievable.  Japan has a lot of problems, but it gets the basics correct and learns from its mistakes.

Health visits to kinder garden schools:

Yesterday, my 3yr old had a visit by the dentist at her kinder garden - basically highlighting prevention and having a look at the dental condition. A small comment card came home with her. By the way, this was free. A few weeks ago, a doctor visited and the same procedure again.

Health Insurance:

Under Japan law, it is mandatory to have health insurance. (National Health Insurance or Company Health Insurance)

For children in Japan, the medical fee for any ailment is capped at a price of 2 Euro/month.  This includes the visit to the doctor and all medicines. That same 3 yr  old was hospitalized after birth for 4 days for precautionary measures and again, 2 Euro was the bill, whereas I'm sure that the actual costs were well over 1,000 Euro.

Health Facilities in Japan:

With Japan's population 25 times denser than Ireland, it is easier to have local services. However even the smaller hospitals have X-ray, & MRI machines available immediately.

Dental Costs:

Dental is also cheaper, but the dentists layout is totally different- 1 Dentist, 4 chairs and about 5 dental nurses. The dental nurse makes all the initial inspections and final cleaning up/explanations thereby leaving the dentist to make confirmation, do the work, and move on. It is a little bit like a factory production line but for 20 Euro check-up and 30 Euro for a filling, it is great. Of course the dentist will explain any additional questions directly if needed.


If you look at the stats, unemployment seems low in Japan however the calculation method differs as a person here is deemed unemployed if they haven't worked for 3 months. (I think it is 1 month for Ireland). Also, there are numerous jobs generated (e.g. traffic signalers in road construction) to get a person back into work with the 3 months.

Finally there is the incentive of drastically reduced benefits after the initial 3 months are up. (Also benefits are not automatic if you are unemployed, a certain time in the workforce is required as well as the termination circumstances can have a delay in receiving benefits)

I don't think that Ireland has any model for the future but they could definitely take the good pages from here and other countries.

Best of luck with your efforts in keeping transparency.

Best Regards,


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