Background: As the number of immigrants to Japan increases, the health problems of foreign nationals also have an increasing impact on Japanese medical institutions. The aim of this study was to clarify the Japan-specific health problems related to both the physical and psychological symptoms of foreign nationals from the viewpoint of psychosomatic medicine. The second aim was to clarify the measures that should be taken in Japan and similar countries where immigration may still be considered less than common. Case Presentation: The study period was from June 2004 to May 2015. The data of non-Japanese patients who had visited the Department of Psychosomatic Medicine, Kinki University Hospital and its branches, Sakai Hospital and Nihonbashi Clinic, were collected. All patients were aged 16 years or over. Multiple factors, such as age, sex, nationality, length of stay, marital status, employment status, level of Japanese proficiency, clinical symptoms, physical and psychiatric diagnosis, psycho-social factors and therapy were retrospectively analyzed from the medical charts of 20 non-Japanese patients. Cases were divided into two groups; early onset and late onset cases. This study showed that multiple factors related to the health problems of non-Japanese patients were combined and had a mutual influence, however, they can be summarized into two important clinical observations. These are 1) cultural differences, and 2) language barriers related to both the physical and psychological symptoms of non-Japanese patients from the viewpoint of psychosomatic medicine. Conclusions: Future efforts should focus on sensitizing health care professionals in Japan to the psychosomatic problems of non-Japanese patients as well as on facilitating medical systems with services such as medical professional interpreters and liaison-consultation models. It is essential to take measures against language barriers and to promote the field of transcultural psychiatry and psychosomatic medicine in Japan. In addition, the Japanese government should introduce a more comprehensive social support system for non-Japanese people.
Koyama, A., Okumi, H., Matsuoka, H., Makimura, C., Sakamoto, R., & Sakai, K. (2016). The physical and psychological problems of immigrants to Japan who require psychosomatic care: A retrospective observation study. BioPsychoSocial Medicine, 10(1). https://doi.org/10.1186/s13030-016-0052-x