A journey to better health throughout Japan

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May 10, 2019
By the Philips Foundation team
​​Philips Foundation raised awareness around often neglected health conditions such as Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD), sleep apnea and the importance of brushing your teeth by organizing and hosting 4 symposia in 4 different districts across Japan.
Better health in Japan

Work-related disorders constitute a major occupational and public health issue in Japan, since the country has some of the longest working hours in the world. There are even cases of Japanese workers literally working themselves to death. In Japanese referred to as Karoshi, which can be translated as "overwork death". ​


In most cases, it is less severe than death, but working long hours does lead to serious health problems due to poor life-style choices, resulting in life-style diseases such as Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD) or sleep apnea.​


A reason for the Philips Foundation to organize and host these events by working closely with local governments in four prefectures (the main subdivisions of Japan): Sapporo, Yamanashi, Sendai and Okinawa. Each focusing on different health conditions that are less well known but can have significant impact on people's quality of life.

A focus on regional health

After the Yamanashi prefecture symposium, Nikkei, a leading media company in Japan, approached Mr. Hiroyuki Tsutsumi, market leader of Japan, who presented at these symposia:
In Yamanashi, for example, there are issues such as tending to avoid going out and going to the destination of 100m away by car, which tends to weaken the muscles. Each prefecture, however, has its own challenges. That is why this time we focused on individuality and individualization on regional level. The findings of these efforts may be data that can be used to assess regional characteristics.

With each event focusing on different health conditions, and throughout the educational impact on these topics, these symposia have been able to directly shape future health approaches in Japan.


It shows that by teaming up with a wide range of stakeholders, from universities and health insurance associations to top physicians and local governments, events such as these can help improve the lives of citizens in these four prefectures. As Hiroyuki Tsutsumi told Nikkei: "Integrated efforts of prefectures and local municipalities with regard to regional health issues have always been of great importance."


Next to Nikkei, the symposia received a great deal of media coverage in both local and other national outlets.​

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