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Earthquake-stricken Japan has been capturing attention.

But the industrialized nation faces another challenge, one revealing for America — guaranteeing an aging citizenry access to quality health care at a time of economic instability.

Health care in Japan is universal and mandatory and delivered at half the cost of U.S. health care, said Janet Theiss, director of the University of Utah's Asia Center, which is sponsoring a workshop Monday and Tuesday on Japanese health policy.

To developed countries like the U.S., now in the throes of reforming its health care system, Japan serves as a model, said Theiss. "They spend a lot less money and they cover everybody and quality of care over there is very high. We will talk about what that means, how those savings are achieved and how our two systems compare."

On both days, the workshop starts at 1 p.m. at the Heritage Center at Fort Douglas in rooms 1A and 1B. It is free and open to the public.

The event was made possible by a grant from the Japan Foundation Center for Global Partnership, part of which will also enable the U.'s sociology department to hire a professor of Japanese health policy.

Akito Ohmura, dean of the Teikyo University School of Medical Technology in Tokyo, will kick things off on Monday exploring what the U.S. and Japanese health systems can gain from one another.

There is a lot of talk these days about how Americans will shoulder the medical costs of aging baby boomers and Japan has the world's oldest population, said Theiss. "We'll explore the consequences of that for long-term care, end of life care and the stresses on the social system and medical resources."

Other presenters are John Campbell, professor emeritus at the University of Michigan and visiting scholar at the University of Tokyo's Institute of Gerontology; and Naoki Ikegami, professor and chairman of the Department of Health Policy and Management at Keio School of Medicine in Tokyo.


When • 1 p.m. Monday and Tuesday

Where • Heritage Center at Fort Douglas, rooms 1A and 1B

Cost • Free and open to the public