Home > Focus on Japan 2008 > Weekends and Hospitals in Japan

Weekends and Hospitals in Japan

December 29th, 2008

One thing that has always puzzled, and often has frustrated me about Japan is that all medical facilities shut down over the weekend. Some have early Saturday services, but almost all of them are closed on Sundays, and most for the whole weekend. Of course, the hospital emergency room is open, but that’s for extreme cases (and you get charged a hefty premium for its services).

I’m sorry, but this strikes me as particularly stupid. Most people work during normal hospital and clinic hours, and many people have trouble getting away from such obligations except for the most severe illnesses. Not to mention that people don’t become ill on schedule; there is no magical physical law that prevents sickness from striking Friday evening or Saturday afternoon.

So, why do medical services all but cease on weekends? It’s not as if it’s impossible to get people to work then; all manner of businesses operate over the weekend. Just rotate schedules, or have clinics that have different days off.

It strikes me that if I wanted to open a medical clinic and really get customers, I’d start one which operated from 3pm to midnight, taking Tuesdays and Wednesdays off. The staff could sleep in and get a lot more personal business done on the days off, and streams of people needing medical attention in off hours would beat a path to the office.

Now that the holiday season is here, the clinics are mostly closed for the next week. Getting sick on the holidays in Japan can be either painful or very expensive.

Is it the same elsewhere?

On a related note, we’ve just been informed by our building that trash collection will be shut down for a whole week. During that time, we have to store all of our trash in the apartment. This, of course, makes little sense; trash usually sits in the trash area for 3 and 4 days at a time; just because the trash collectors take a week off doesn’t mean that we have to stop right after the last pickup and start only just before the next. Not to mention that such a long break is far worse in Japan than in places like the U.S., as there is no place to put it. You put it on the balcony, the crows get at it. You keep it indoors, it starts to stink up the place. Pretty much nobody has large cans which can keep trash contained for that period. So, yet another lovely service to put on hold.

All other businesses, such as shops, theaters, restaurants, and so forth, will continue on, business as usual. They somehow find a way to juggle schedules.

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  1. Matt
    December 30th, 2008 at 14:54 | #1

    Most government facilities (like city halls, etc.) are closed on the weekend here on Oahu. The hours are from 8 to 3, which is totally inconvenient, and closed on the weekends so you are forced to take time off work to get errands like renewing your drivers license, registering a vehicle, etc.

  2. Gray
    January 16th, 2009 at 12:47 | #2

    I’m sure you’re aware of it, but Japanese medical facilities are EXTREMELY understaffed, forcing many hospitals to sometimes reject patients. This patient-juggling once resulted in someone’s death too. The rumors on the internet says the reason no one wants to become a doctor is because of possibile liability issues, but I don’t know the real cause. But this is perhaps a reason why hospitals are forced to close on weekends.

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