Opportunities in ASEAN and Japan’s healthcare landscape

Dr Hiroki Nakatani shares on the future opportunities that ASEAN and Japan healthcare sectors hold, and areas of collaboration in the region.

Speaker: Dr Hiroki Nakatani
Project Professor
Keio-APRU Ageing Research Hub


Based on WHO data, the number of deaths due to COVID-19 in Asia is lower compared to US and Europe. In addition, the economic impact on Asian countries is also observed to be less serious as compared to European countries.

Dr Nakatani highlighted that COVID-19 responses in Korea, Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam held good learning points for Japan. For Japan, an independent review of its COVID-19 responses highlighted weaknesses such as the need for speedy collection and analysis of information, and increased testing and treatment capacity.

Beyond the COVID-19 pandemic, both ASEAN and Japan also face the common challenge of ageing populations. A silver tsunami could lead to rising healthcare costs and strain on medical resources. However, it also offers opportunities for an emerging ‘silver industry’, that meets the rapidly growing demand for medical care, long-term care services, or medical goods. ASEAN would potentially be a promising market for such companies, as many ASEAN economies have positive growth outlooks. Companies in Japan have begun designing products catering to senior citizens. For example, there are robot suits for seniors to support them in carrying heavy objects.

The collaboration between ASEAN and Japan will reach its 50th anniversary in 2023. Various health programmes have been jointly implemented, such as the ASEAN Japan Health Exchange Programme which promotes healthy lifestyles, prevents diseases and raises healthcare standards.

Dr Nakatani shares his vision for a Mexx project, which brings together business, academia and government parties in a healthcare dialogue across countries. These dialogues would discuss new innovations and act as a loose platform or network for all healthcare stakeholders.

Key takeaways:

  1. The COVID-19 response in Asia has been encouraging thus far, and countries can learn from each other on the management of the pandemic.
  2. ASEAN and Japan both face challenges arising from ageing populations. However, there are also opportunities to leverage on the trend for growth, such as through the emerging silver industry.
  3. There is room for ASEAN and Japan to work together to resolve the challenges together, in a win-win partnership that benefits the healthcare ecosystem in the region.

To join the ASEAN-Japan Dialogue on Healthcare sessions, please click here.