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Japan to be short 24,000 doctors in 2036: health ministry

TOKYO -- Japan will likely have a shortage of some 24,000 medical practitioners in the year 2036, according to a Health, Labor and Welfare Ministry projection.

The ministry estimated the actual number of doctors in 2036, the target year for eliminating the maldistribution of physicians across the country, as well as the necessary number of medical practitioners for every area.

The health ministry took into consideration the current number of doctors per 100,000 of population, the gap between daytime and nighttime populations, consultation rates in all age groups, and doctors' work hours, among other factors.

The estimate shows that in 2036, every region of Japan except Nara Prefecture will lack sufficient numbers of medical professionals in some areas, with the total doctor shortage hitting some 24,000 across about 220 out of 335 zones across the country.

Based on the outcome, the health ministry will designate 15 prefectures, including the northern Japan prefecture of Aomori, the eastern Japan prefecture of Chiba, Shizuoka Prefecture in central Japan, and Yamaguchi in the west, as prefectures with medical practitioner shortages. The ministry will then take specific measures to address the problem in each area.

(Japanese original by Masahiro Sakai, Medical Welfare News Department)

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