Given the general poor quality of doctors in Japan, I'm really surprised that people live so long over here...
While I know many foreigners over here who can tell a tale or two about the terrible experiences they have at the doctors/hospital, the Japanese only know the service they have been getting in Japan so naturally think its pretty normal.
So whats so terrible about doctors over here?
Well for a start, its common knowledge among folks in the medical field that doctors get a commission based on the amount of medicine that they prescribe for you.
While I had doctors refrain from dishing out medicine back in London, the doctors here will give you anything you utter to them as a problem. For example, if you tell them "I had a stomach pain last week but its gone now," they will prescribe medicine for your stomach - they can only prescribe medicine to what the patient says is/was a symptom.
For this reason, patients end up with a ton of medicine. I know many people who just flush half of the medicine down the toilet.
Another thing with Japanese doctors is that most of them don't like to be questioned. The proper way to address a doctor in Japan is "Sensei" and a lot of "Sensei" think highly of themselves - many with pay packages starting from 30,000,000 yen.
After taking your pulse and listening to your chest, the doctor promptly (in most cases) starts to write out a prescription without explanation. I remember asking a few doctors about my symptom/cause only to be looked at like I insulted them.
While some do give you a good explanation (they are usually the ones who have studied outside of Japan), some will give you an extremely generic answer - "you have an inflammation of the blah." I seem to have inflammations all over my body according to the doctors!
This is not a language issue either. I and many other foreigners here who have a good command of the language have the same problem with the doctors.
So what advice do I have for you who's thinking of living and working in Japan who also has to deal with racism?
First ask your gaijin friends who have been here longer and may be able to make recommendations. If they cant then you pretty much have to go through trial and error of fining a good doctor.
Since we moved into our new place, I've not been sick that much but when I am, I try to check out a clinic/hospital that I've not been to yet.
If you are a foreigner in Japan, it would be interesting to hear your comments.
Would also like to hear what doctors/health service is like all over the world too - do make recommendations to fellow otaku who may be in need of a good doctor.
But hey, at least the nurses here are nice. Sayaka Isoyama below.