Medical genetics and genomic medicine in Japan

Hisato Suzuki, Tomoko Watanabe, Tomoko Uehara, Kenjiro Kosaki

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

3 Citations (Scopus)


Since 1961, all Japanese citizens have belonged to one of the available medical care insurance systems. This “universal care” system has contributed to the maintenance of health: the life expectancy at birth was 84 years in 2016, and the infant mortality rate (the number of infants dying before reaching 1 year of age) was 2.0 per 1,000 live births, which is one of the lowest rates in the world. The Japanese government initiated the National Program on Rare and Intractable Diseases in 1972. This program has promoted research and expanded support for patients with rare and intractable diseases. Registered patients are eligible for a subsidy scheme that helps to cover medical care costs. Among the 331 diseases that are currently included in this program, more than half of the diseases are Mendelian disorders. The National Program on Rare and Intractable Diseases has fostered research in medical genetics in Japan and many causative genes for Mendelian diseases have been identified by Japanese geneticists. Recently, the Japanese government has determined to support several genomic medicine initiatives including the undiagnosed disease program (Initiative on Rare and Undiagnosed Diseases) and pathogenic variant databases.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)166-169
Number of pages4
JournalAmerican Journal of Medical Genetics, Part C: Seminars in Medical Genetics
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 2019 Jun


  • Asia
  • Japan
  • medical genetics
  • undiagnosed diseases

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Genetics
  • Genetics(clinical)


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