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Japan With Kids - Forums: Health Topics: Diabetes
By Jean Koizumi on Tuesday, July 11, 2000 - 9:09 am:

I have a friend in the US whose 19 year old daughter is unable to regulate her blood sugar effectively and is having severe seizures and is losing mental accuity. She understands that the GlucoWatch, which has not yet received FDA approval, but is expected to be on the market in the US in early 2001, is now available in Japan. Is there any way to obtain one from Japan for her to use now?

By shancock on Wednesday, July 12, 2000 - 7:28 am:

Not sure if GlucoWatch is a specific model that his needed here. I found several others for sale in the U.S. at

This is a buying guide for blood sugar monitors. There is also a link to a long list of ones that are available in the U.S. from this online retailer.

My experience it that medical equipment and innovations are much slower to be approved in Japan coming from the U.S. (political comment suppressed).

I am not a medical person, so best to check with the MD for specifics.


By Kaz Matsuki on Wednesday, July 12, 2000 - 7:03 pm:

I guess this is a fairly difficult task. It is illegal in Japan for a doctor to prescribe a medication or any other medical things without first examining the patient.

Legally, examining her means really examining her. Actually seeing her, touching her, listening to her, asking her questions, etc., although examining her over TV phone is allowed.

Find a English-speaking doctor and ask him what he/she needs to prescribe a medication for her. If he/she thinks that reading a reference letter from the girl's doctor is enough, he may give her a medicine. Seems a fairly tough job, though.

Dr. Kaz Matsuki

By shancock on Wednesday, July 12, 2000 - 7:22 pm:

Dr. Matsuki-
Are you saying that a blood sugar monitor would need to be prescribed in Japan?

These are OTC (Over the Counter) in the U.S.

Thank you for replying to this forum.

Scott Hancock

By Hayashi on Thursday, July 20, 2000 - 3:15 am:

Last Thursday I attended at a certain party and there I could get an information about GlucoWatch. Anyone cannot get it now in Japan. It is a wristband for diabetes patients to monitor blood sugar for 12 hours at skin (without blood). Patients can know blood sugar painlessly. This is still on the experiment stages, and it takes one or two years to be sold. Specialists of diabetes say it might be one assistance to support therapy, but not be main. Because it fractuates according to the condition of skin. They recommend not to expect its effects too much. This is present opinion, and of course it can be changed after great improvement.

Tomoko Hayashi, M.D.

By Brian on Friday, July 21, 2000 - 4:44 pm:

I am now 40. I became an insulin dependent diabetic at age 19. Things have improved since then. Glucose monitoring is a lot simpler now. A device used to cost $500. Now they often give them away with purchase of 100 test strips (I live in California). While it is still inconvenient to regularly test blood with the available methods (my three year old enjoys helping me with this!), the important thing is to be consistant in glucose monitoring instead of looking for overseas solutions.

If she's at all like I was at 19, she'll find that the ability to control blood sugar will vastly improve as her life becomes less erratic (in other words as she matures). If she is a "brittle diabetic", then the most important thing is to see her doctor regularly, who will keep her abreast of new develpments. Plus if she is under a physician's care she is more likely to be taken into a study group for new treatments.

By Kevin on Thursday, September 20, 2001 - 1:39 pm:

My wife was recently diagnosed with diabetes and is handling it with small doses of insulin, glucophage, diet and exercise. Japanese food shoots her blood sugar through the roof. (all the carbs in the rice I guess) There is a chance we may be moving to Japan and am concerned about getting an English speaking doctor and how to handle it with such a high carb diet. Any thoughts or recomendations would be greatly appreciated. Thanks,

By Scott Hancock on Thursday, September 20, 2001 - 4:59 pm:

There are many English speaking doctors in the main cities. If you are moving to a rural area, it could be an issue.

Same factor applies to diet. In the cities, you have a wide choice of cuisine; in the country, not so much.

Don't forget to bring the full history so you have some chance of continuity.


By Ann Tang on Sunday, September 23, 2001 - 12:24 am:

I work with several endocrinologist in Tokyo and outside Tokyo. I also work closely with dieticians in Tokyo. I do research related to diabetes. If you have problem finding English speaking endocrinologist or dieticians after getting to Japan, please contact my e-mail.
Japanese diet does not necessary all induce hyperglycemia. Japanese diet is usually low fat, which is a diet highly recommended for diabetes and other populations. With some help from a Japanese dietician, I am sure your wife and yourself will be able to enjoy Japanese meals as well as other available cuisine while you are here.


By Richard Clement on Thursday, May 9, 2002 - 7:49 am:

Does anybody have any experience of diabetic care for children in Tokyo?
We are moving out to Tokyo with our 10 year old daughter who is insulin dependant. I'm trying to find out what insulins and equipment is available in Japan. She currently uses a premixed insulin in pre-loaded pens with 5mm single use needles.
Any feedback would be extremely welcome.

By Pato on Sunday, April 20, 2003 - 9:45 pm:

This might become available in Japan before it is available in the USA... Unfortunately still a couple of years in the future.
Toshiba system detects diabetes without blood sample

Friday, April 18, 2003
TOKYO EToshiba Corp said Thursday it has developed a new method of detecting diabetes without taking blood samples, together with Sysmex Corp, a medical test equipment maker.
The companies have developed a device that can be worn by a person taking the test on his or her wrist.
The device will send out a weak electric current which will cause a small amount of body fluid to form on the surface of the skin.
Testing the blood sugar level of the fluid will be enough to discover the illness and its status, Toshiba said, adding the method will reduce pain and burdens for patients who often have to undergo blood tests more than once a day.
The partners aim to make the new device commercially available in fiscal 2005, starting April of that year. (Kyodo News)

By Elizabeth Dajnowicz on Wednesday, April 23, 2003 - 1:41 pm:

The device being developed by Toshiba and Sysmex sounds exactly like a device already available in the US, Canada, and UK, called the Glucowatch. It has been available in the US for almost two years, and the second generation model, the G2 Biographer, is currently available from the manufacturer (Sygnus). Information is available at A doctor's prescription is required to purchase the Glucowatch, but it is not yet covered by insurance. The device measures blood sugar through interstitial fluid, which means that the reading is delayed by about 20 minutes. Finger-prick testing is still required when using the Glucowatch. I have considered buying one for "peace of mind" during sleep, strenuous exercise, international travel, and times when I am alone overnight. Normally I need to check my blood sugar every few hours in such situations.

I am a Type 1 (insulin-dependant) diabetic American living in Japan (insulin pump user). If anybody is moving to Japan and has questions about medical support for diabetics in Japan, I would be happy to share my experience with the health care system here.

By James Hayes on Friday, April 25, 2003 - 5:48 pm:

I have been working with people in the U.S. and Japan with Diabetes and have alot of good news along with medical data to support it. I wonder why alot of people have not heard of this treatment. Feel free to get in contact with me. James

By Melissa Mayer on Friday, September 9, 2005 - 4:18 pm:

I am leaving for Japan in less than 2 weeks and I know NOTHING of type 1 diabetes treatment and health care coverage there. Does any one know what kind of INSULIN is available? I take HUMALOG AND LANTUS. Also does the National Health Care cover doctors visits and prescriptions for INSULIN, SYRINGES, TEST STRIPS and BLOOD GLUCOSE MONITORS? PlEaSe HeLp?!?!

By Nancy on Saturday, September 10, 2005 - 9:31 am:

Melissa, bring a supply of your medication but in the meantime contact Tokyo Medical and Surgical to arrange a consultation following your arrival.

By Aileen on Monday, October 10, 2005 - 10:30 pm:

Help, does anybody know where I can buy Ascensia elite (blood glucose test strips) or equivalent? This is for my uncle. Thank you.

By Leese Johnson on Saturday, October 15, 2005 - 1:11 pm:

We are having visitors come soon, one of whom is insulin dependent diabetic. They will only be here for a couple of weeks.

Is there anything special about going through customs?

What about supplies should they run out while here? I'm encouraging them to bring everything with them but I'd like to have a backup plan just in case.

By Jellund on Saturday, October 15, 2005 - 2:55 pm:

Leese - we just had an insulin diabetic visitor and he didn't have any problems bringing his medication through customs. He did run out while here but had friends in New Zealand post him more. I would suggest that your visitors bring their regular prescription paper just in case they need to show a Doctor to get more. Also, the great thing about Japan is that there are vending machines everywhere so, if your visitor is getting a bit low, you can always pick up a sugary drink for them.

By Sraboni on Monday, September 3, 2007 - 11:32 am:


Can anybody please recommend me a good English speaking diabetics specialist in Tokyo , hopefully near Roppongi.


By Emma7 on Saturday, October 6, 2007 - 6:14 pm:


My husband is Type 1, and we are also looking for a good English speaking doctor who listens to patients. We are looking for one in Tokyo and Chiba areas. Currently, he goes to the local one nearby our house, but we are not satisfied with the doctor he sees regularly.

Any information is appreciated! Thank you for your help in advance.

By Sbrooke on Wednesday, October 10, 2007 - 4:10 pm:

I am from NZ and can recommend a Japanese doctor at Tokai University Hospital in Yoyogi Tokyo. I think he may only be there one day a week though but he does speak reasonable english and gives me insulin and everything I need with no hassles. His name is Dr Sasao, fairly young and with good english, and there is another doctor there also with good english but I haven't met him yet. Be warned though that the doctor patient relationship is slightly different here in japan and they are not used to dealing with patients who are well-read on their own diseases and treatments ...

By Emma7 on Thursday, October 11, 2007 - 10:45 pm:

Thank you for the information! We were thinking of going to Tokyo University Medcal Center since it's closer to my husband's work. But, we may change our mind :-)

I agree with you on the relationship between doctor and patient here in Japan. Doctor thinks they are so professional and they are kind of snobbish in a way...

We liked our family doctor in Motomachi, Yokohama. His name is Dr. Watanabe and although he wasn't specialized in Diabetes, he really listens whatever you want to say and is willing to help you out.

By Farfromhome on Tuesday, October 16, 2007 - 4:30 pm:

can i buy insulin needles from a tokyo pharmacy w/out prescription? sis coming for a visit, and she'd rather not carry syringes.

By Blacke2 on Sunday, February 10, 2008 - 9:36 am:

Hi everyone. I'm thinking about taking a job at Yokosuka Naval base but would like to know if there is a doctor off the base who could treat my son? His diabetes is under very good control and he is on the insulin pump. I don't think they can support him very well on the base, but if there is a facility and endocrinologist nearby off the base then I can take the job. Thanks.

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