Ministry of Health, Labour and Welfare


Health Service Bureau

Aims to Overcome Diseases and Enhance Health

The bureau strives to improve regional health through health centers, etc. and takes measures against infectious diseases such as Ebola hemorrhagic fever, AIDS and tuberculosis and diseases caused by living practices such as diabetes and cancer, while promoting appropriate organ transplantation. Thus, the bureau endeavors to improve the health of each Japanese national. It also strives to secure comfortable living environment through measures concerning the operation of life- and sanitation-related businesses such as barbers and beauty salons, as well as measures against sick-house syndromes and the development of water services.

Promotion of People's Health Promotion Campaign for the 21st Century (Healthy Japan 21)

To give vitality to Japan in the 21st century despite fewer children and the aging of the society, it is important to lengthen the period during which people can live without suffering dementia or being bed-ridden ("healthy life") by decreasing diseases. Traditionally, most of the measures for such purposes have emphasized the "secondary prevention", such as early detection and early treatment of diseases. In addition to this, measures giving priority to the improvement of living practices ("primary prevention") have become necessary. Accordingly, "People's Health Promotion Campaign for the 21st Century (Health Japan 21)" is to be implemented, which presents targets in the prevention of living practice-caused diseases, etc. The campaign, which will allow each individual to strive positively to promote his or her health, will be comprehensively promoted with the help of a wide variety of related groups.

Measures against Infectious Diseases

The measures against infectious diseases in Japan are taken mainly in compliance with the "Law concerning the Prevention of Infectious Diseases and Medical Care for Patients Suffering Infectious Diseases". Under the law, the bureau promptly and precisely grasps the outbreaks of infectious diseases and provides information. At the same time, it strives to improve the medical system and hospitalization procedure for patients suffering infectious diseases, to simultaneously answer two different demands form the nationals, namely preventing infectious diseases and respecting the human rights of patients. It also actively engages itself in measures against infectious diseases, presenting guiding principles in the prevention of various infectious diseases, particularly AIDS and influenza.

Promotion of Organ Transplantation

Does brain death mean the death of the person? Should organ transplantation from the body of a brain-dead person be allowed? This issue has caused lively discussions. Based upon such discussions, "Law on Organ Transplantation" was approved and enacted in September 1997, opening the way for organ transplantation from brain-dead bodies.
According to the law, written presentation of will by the person while alive to donate organs is essential before a judgement of brain death is given and an organ is donated. Because of this, the bureau has actively distributed "organ donor cards", which allow easy and reliable presentation of will, in cooperation with related organizations including local governments. Through such enlightenment efforts, the bureau strives to diffuse transplantation medicine in Japan. In the meantime, the first organ transplantation from a brain-dead person after the enactment of the Organ Transplantation Law was operated at the end of February 1999. This was followed by some other cases of organ transplantation from brain-dead bodies, which revealed various problems inherent in such organ transplantation. In light of these, examination meetings have been held to review organ transplantation cases from brain-dead persons from a viewpoint of third parties. At the same time, explanation meetings have been held and manuals have been distributed for appropriate and smooth completion of organ donation formalities. Measures for further promotion of organ transplantation will continue to be taken in the future.

Promotion of Life-/Sanitation-Related Businesses

Life-/sanitation-related businesses* offer services closely related with our daily life. Most of them, however, are small or petty businesses that need support for the maintenance and improvement of sanitation standards. The bureau promotes life-/sanitation-related businesses, by supporting activities of the Association of Life and Sanitation Businesses and helping the improvement of the management/guidance system of the Guiding Center for Life and Sanitation Businesses.

Establishment of Safe Water Supply System to Protect People

The bureau takes comprehensive measures for securing safe water supply, by securing water supply sources, addressing new water quality problems including O-157 and cryptosporidiums, and promoting the introduction of advanced water purification facilities using ozone, activated charcoal, membrane treatment, etc.

* "Life-/sanitation-related businesses" are businesses operating barbers, beauty salons, laundries, hotels, public baths, show places, restaurants, meat stores, coffeehouses, and ice/snow shops. Japan has about 2.55 million of them.