Medical Residency In Japan For Img

Last Updated on September 1, 2023

Medical Residency in Japan for IMGs


For many international medical graduates (IMGs), gaining practical experience through residency programs abroad is a valuable‍ opportunity to enhance ​their medical skills and knowledge. One country ‍that has gained⁤ significant attention in recent years⁣ is Japan.‌ With its advanced healthcare⁤ system and well-respected ⁣medical institutions,‌ Japan ⁣offers IMGs an exceptional environment for further developing their medical ⁢careers. In this article,‍ we will delve into the details of medical residency in Japan for IMGs, exploring the application process, benefits, challenges, and the potential impact⁤ on⁤ their professional‍ growth.

Application Process:

IMGs interested in pursuing a medical residency in ‌Japan must first meet certain ‍requirements. ‍Fluency in Japanese is essential, as the vast majority of healthcare services ​and interactions are conducted‍ in the local language. Proficiency

Have you always dreamed of studying medicine in Japan? College Learners is here to guide you every step of the way. College Learners’ extensive list of resources will support your move abroad by providing you with in-depth articles and advice on how to study abroad for medicine in Japan.

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Medical school is very expensive in Japan, especially relative to other countries. There are enrollment fees of c. $9,000 and then tuition can be anywhere $23,000 and $69,000 per year (by the time all additional fees are included). You will also need to consider living costs which are quite high in the big Japanese cities.

How tough is it to be admitted to medical school in Japan?

Japanese students have to take entrance exams to the school of their choice once they have successfully finished high school.

If you are an international student residing in Japan and graduating from a Japanese high school, admission is done on the basis of a General Screening Test based on academic results, an application, and then entrance exams. Non-resident international students also can have access to a Special Screening Test followed by an entrance exam.

As you can see, admission to any undergraduate university program is not straightforward in Japan and requires careful research and preparation.

How long will it take to study medicine in Japan?

To obtain the clinical medicine degree as an undergraduate, you will study for six years – four years of pre-clinical education and two years of clinical education.

Top Medical Schools in Japan

1. University of Tokyo – Faculty of Medicine

The Faculty of Medicine at the University of Tokyo is the highest-ranked medical school in Japan and also has a spot in the top 100 best clinical medicine universities in the world. Their aim is to offer a holistic education that focuses not just on clinical studies, but also on research and the involvement of doctors with society and the world at large.

The medical school offers the undergraduate program in Medicine as well as a School of Integrated Health Sciences for related studies, and a Graduate School of Medicine. It is proud to count a number of Nobel Prize winners in Physiology and Medicine.

The University of Tokyo’s Faculty of Medicine has a 160-year history, having started with a smallpox vaccination post at Kanda-Otamagaike in 1868. Through many iterations, the vaccination center evolved and became a school in 1872 – leading on to an Imperial University, an affiliated hospital, a Midwives’ School, and so on. The School now also features a Museum of Health and Medicine and numerous research centers.

2. Kyoto University – Graduate School of Medicine and Faculty of Medicine

The Kyoto University Faculty of Medicine was established in 1899. Since then, it’s been a magnet for students in Japan and worldwide due to its high quality of education and practical experience in the fields of medicine. There are two sections of the faculty: the Medical Science Division and the Human Health Sciences Division. The first is the one for developing doctors as well as medical scholars and researchers, whereas the latter develops nurses and other healthcare professionals.

At this medical school in Japan, there is also an option to embark on a joint MD/Ph.D. course whereby, after four years in the medical school, one can transfer into the Graduate School of Medicine, study to obtain a Ph.D., and finally return to the medical school to complete clinical training afterward. Alternatively, you can follow the six-year MD program and then follow that with a program in Graduate School.

3. Osaka University Faculty of Medicine

The Osaka University School of Medicine traces its origins back to a school opened by Ogata Koan in 1838. He had taught students western studies and medicine. By 1931, this developed into Osaka Teikoku University – including a School of Medicine and a School of Science.

Today, the Osaka University School of Medicine offers a 6-year program to become a doctor through its Medical School. Students are taught to develop their teamwork skills and to be adaptable to what is believed to be an ever-changing, dynamic discipline. The Medical School also provides advanced research opportunities in new fields such as Genomic Medicine, Medical Robotics, and Regenerative Medicine. This is due to the school’s firm belief in developing medical professionals for the future and thought leaders in their profession.

The Medical School at Osaka University works in accordance with international criteria, in order to ensure that its degrees are recognized worldwide. Moreover, the Medical School has a number of international agreements with partner schools across the world, from the University of Oxford in the UK to Alexandria University in Egypt.

4. Keio University School of Medicine

Next on our list of top medical schools in Japan is the Keio University School of Medicine. Founded in 1917, this medical school started off under the management of world-renowned microbiologist Dr. Shibasaburo Kitasato, who had dedicated his career to making medicine more accessible to the public and therefore founding his own institute of medicine.

The school’s aim has remained that of educating doctors in a combination of basic science and clinical medicine, developing physicians who dedicate their lives in a commitment on improving society. These strong values drive a world-class education backed up by advanced research capabilities.

Keio University School of Medicine is also part of an extensive medical science and healthcare network, partnering with a number of institutions and teaching hospitals.

5. Tohoku University School of Medicine

The first medical school at the origins of Tohoku University School of Medicine started out in 1817 as Sendai han Medical School. It eventually became an Imperial Medical University in 1915 and developed as a highly ranked educational, research, and practice institution for medical students in Japan. With a small number of admitted students every year (135 new students per year), Tohoku University ensures the high quality of the education received during its medical program.

The School of Medicine also includes a Health Sciences division where Nursing, Radiological Technology, and Medical Laboratory Science can be studied.

6. Tokyo Medical and Dental University

Tokyo Medical and Dental University is part of Japan’s national universities, and therefore a much cheaper place to study in our list of Japanese medical schools. The university’s vision is to cultivate professionals with knowledge and humanity, thereby contributing to people’s well-being.

The Faculty of Medicine welcomes international students as long as they pass the Examination of Japanese University and qualify with the subjects that the university designates for application. Within the Faculty, you can either obtain an MD degree via the School of Medicine or study Nursing Science or Medicine Technology within the School of Health Care Sciences.

7. Kyushu University School of Medicine

The final in our list of best medical schools in Japan is the School of Medicine at Kyushu University, which was founded in 1903 as Fukuoka Medical College of Kyoto Imperial University. It then became associated with Kyushu Imperial University in 1911 and became the School of Medicine we can find today in 1947.

Medical research is a key part of the development of the School of Medicine, therefore Kyushu University invests heavily in research facilities and interdisciplinary collaborations through various partnerships. Some of the research institutes include Bio-Regulation, Applied Mechanics, Materials Chemistry and Engineering, etc.

Japan is an excellent place to pursue higher education due to its world-class universities and high-quality education. Moreover, the country provides international students the opportunity to explore its rich cultural heritage and enjoy its beautiful nature spots. Studying in Japan also offers the perfect reason to learn its widely popular language, and Medicine is one of the sought-after programs that require Japanese proficiency. In this article, you will learn about the best medical schools in Japan.

Can Foreigners Study in Medical Schools in Japan?

Yes, medical schools in Japan accept international students. One of the universities open to foreign applicants is Okayama University. The university offers a six-year degree in Medicine for aspiring international students in Japan. Applicants must have completed their 12-year basic education and pass the National Center Test for University Admissions before applying to the university. The university conducts most Medicine classes in the Japanese language, so it is necessary to obtain at least JLPT N1 level.

What is the most prestigious medical school in Japan?

The University of Tokyo has the most prestigious medical school in Japan. As the country’s leading university, the university also received international recognitions from reputable ranking institutions such as the QS Top Universities, ShanghaiRanking, and Times Higher Education. Along with its 36th place in world universities ranking, the university also took 27th in clinical and health subject ranking of Times Higher Education in 2021. Meanwhile, QS Top Universities ranked it 30th in its Life Sciences and Medicine for 2020 and 24th in the overall score for 2021.

Best Medical Schools in Japan

1. The University of Tokyo – Faculty of Medicine

  • Medical School Page

The University of Tokyo Faculty of Medicine goes back to 1858 when European trained practitioners established a vaccination center. After several years of further transition, the vaccination center changed its name to Tokyo Medical School. It later became the Faculty of Medicine along with the establishment of the University of Tokyo in 1877.

Together with the University of Tokyo Hospital, the Center for Disease Biology and Integrative Medicine, and its affiliated institutes, the University of Tokyo is the best medical school in Japan, which aims to train future global healthcare leaders through its holistic view in education and research.

The faculty offers a four-year Bachelor of Medicine degree, with courses taught in English or Japanese and classified into Basic Medical Sciences, Clinical Medicine, and Social Medicine.

Students start their clinical clerkship in the second year until the fourth year, after successfully passing a series of examinations, including the Objective Structured Clinical Examination. Two years in clinical training follow the completion of Bachelor’s studies. Meanwhile, students looking to advance their medical education through research can take the PhD-MD degree program.

2. Kyoto University – Faculty of Medicine

  • Medical School Page

Established in 1899 as Kyoto Imperial University College of Medicine, the Faculty of Medicine, looks to producing international professionals with leading contributions to Medicine and healthcare. This top medical school in Japan has the Medical Science Division and the Human Health Sciences Division.

The former focuses on training medical doctors, scholars, and researchers, while the latter produces nurses and other health care professionals. Though Japanese is still the primary language of instruction in the university, some of the Medical Science Division classes use the English language.

The faculty offers several degree programs in Medicine. For aspiring doctors, Medicine study at Kyoto University starts with a four-year Bachelor’s degree followed by a two-year clinical training. The faculty also offers an MD Researcher degree where students experience laboratory research from their first year of studies.

3. Osaka University – Faculty of Medicine

  • Medical School Page

The Osaka University Faculty of Medicine, established in 1931, is one of Japan’s best medical schools. The faculty aims to develop excellent human resources, lead and contribute in the medical field by providing forward-looking education and promoting future-oriented research studies. Under it are the Division of Medicine, which has 16 departments, and the Division of Health Sciences, with five departments.

The university offers the six-year undergraduate program in Medicine, which, upon completion, awards the Doctor of Medicine degree. The program starts with Liberal Arts courses in the first year, followed by Basic Medicine courses in the second year. Students also take the Medical English program during their second year. The research program starts in the students’ third year, while clinical clerkships occur in the fifth year. In their last year, students have the option to complete their studies abroad.

4. Tohoku University – School of Medicine

  • Medical School Page

Tohoku University School of Medicine, founded in 1817 in its former name, Sendai Han Medical School, has developed to become one of the best medical universities in Japan. It aims to train leading specialists, contributing to human health and welfare while delving deeper into medical science through research.

The school offers an undergraduate program in Medicine, taught in Japanese. It is a six-year program that starts with medical communication in the first year and an optional research program for interested students. The program also includes a Medical English course where students whose native language is English are encouraged to teach.

Research starts in the third year, and students have the option to accomplish this abroad. Students undergo clinical training at Tohoku University Hospital or other affiliated hospitals during the second half of their fourth year.

5. Tokyo Medical and Dental University – Faculty of Medicine

  • Medical School Page

The Tokyo Medical and Dental University joins the best medical schools in Japan. Its Faculty of Medicine, founded in 1951, trains students to gain academic and medical knowledge, professional skills, a researcher’s mindset, a heart full of humanity, and excellent insights. Furthermore, the faculty’s curriculum strives to nurture future leaders in Medicine, contributing to medicine development for disease prevention and treatment and maintenance of good health.

The six-year undergraduate Medicine program in Tokyo Medical and Dental University underwent innovation in 2011 to meet Japan’s aging society’s demands.

The introductory course in Medicine starts in the second semester of the students’ first year in medical school, earlier than undergraduate programs in other medical schools. The succeeding years allow students to master the human body’s biological mechanisms and diseases according to physiological systems through lectures, seminars, and laboratory classes. Research and clinical training start in the fourth year through the program, and clinical clerkship occurs during the fifth and sixth year.

medicine in japan for international students

Do Medical Schools in Japan accept International Students?

Yes, international students are more than welcome to enroll in medical schools in Japan.

Their government is constantly working on bettering the conditions and attracting international students for many years now. They have a plan to enroll over 300,000 students from other countries, and they are very supportive of a multicultural environment.

Thus, it can be even easier to get into Japanese universities as a foreign student than Japanese students. They have special staff and members dedicated solely to the purpose of accommodating new and international students.

What Materials Do They Teach in Japanese Medical Schools?

Medical education in Japan lasts six years. These six years are divided into four years of preclinical education and two years of clinical education.

In the last few decades, Japanese medical education has changed completely, making it more approachable, understandable, and empiric. Also, in 2005, they made a common achievement test obligatory, and you would have to pass this test to enroll in preclinical education.

After the initial four years of education, you have to do some internship work for two years. This residency is paid and working hours are limited.

Study Medicine in Japan: 7 Things You Should Know

1. Can you study medicine in Japan as an international student?

Yes! Japan is considered to be one of the most accepting and hospitable countries in the world for foreign visitors including international students, and accepting them in their medical programs is no exception. Many international students have already graduated and studied medicine in Japan in various universities. Most universities in Japan have an international office or center, particularly for students from other countries. These universities are the University of Tokyo Faculty of Medicine, Kyoto University Medical School, etc.

2. What are the requirements for its medical schools?

Like the usual requirements to study other degree programs in Japan, the requirements to study medicine in the countries’ medical schools are almost the same, except for the quota grades or grade requirements that you must have on your previous educational institution or entrance examinations.

For example, the usual requirements of a medical student include a document that proves your identity and nationality such as a birth certificate or a passport, your previous education documents such as report cards, a good moral certificate, proof of graduating high school, and lastly, other needed documents and payments such as application forms, student visa, entrance exam scores, and admission fees from other universities.

If you studied from a non-English speaking country, you will also be required to submit an IELTS score. Sometimes, universities also require to take a Japanese Language Proficiency Test as an additional requirement of the medical school.

3. How many medical schools are in Japan?

Currently, Japan has a recorded number of 79 medical schools around the country. Out of those schools, 42 are national medical schools, 8 are founded by the Japanese government, while 29 are private universities. This number is expected to rise because of different crises that, not only Japan but also the world, are facing.

4. In what language is Japan’s medical curriculum?

Japanese medical schools are known internationally for offering education with the English language as the medium of instruction. That is why many aspiring students from around the world want to study medicine in Japan because aside from its good-quality and modern education, having the international language as their medium lessens the language barrier between students and faculty of the universities.

This is also a learning chance for Japanese students who want to pursue graduate studies abroad. However, in some cases, some universities require international students, especially graduate students, to take the Japanese Language Proficiency Test because they believe that it would be easier to explain and teach medicine in this medium. One of the universities with this type of requirement is the University of Tokyo Medical School.

5. What are the components of the medical curriculum in Japan?

Like other medical curriculums in other countries, the medical curriculum in Japan does not differ in terms of the period of study and yearly components of the curriculum. There might be a slight difference in the time or year of teaching a specific component, but they are the same. The period of the curriculum is within the usual timeframe of six years.

The first four years of studying medicine in Japan will solely be dedicated to preclinical studies or education that is usually held in classrooms and sometimes in laboratories. The last two years of the curriculum, on the other hand, will be for clinical education which is mostly an application of the theories learned in the first four years.

6. How difficult is it to study medicine in Japan?

Medical school dropout in Japan is relatively low compared to other countries because the education system in Japan at less than 10%. On average, the total dropout rate of students in any degree program is at most 15%.

The reasons for these dropouts are very sensible and rational as some of the students who could not continue studying medicine in Japan suffer from either too much workload from school and their jobs or they are completely unprepared for the degree program or curriculum. With this data, it can be said that yes, it is difficult to study in Japan if you will be unprepared, but it is not possible if you are determined.

7. What do you need to become a doctor in Japan?

After finishing your 6-year medical curriculum, you will be then eligible to take the National Medical Examination for Doctors to become a licensed doctor. However, to be able to take the exam, you also need to be proficient in the Japanese native language because the exam will be written in Japanese. So, if you are still unsure of your proficiency in Japanese despite the period of your stay in Japan, it is suggested that you must take additional language courses.

Undergraduate Medical Education

Programs for high school graduates

The standard Japanese undergraduate medical education program is six years long. Typically, there are four years of preclinical education and then two years of clinical education. High school graduates are eligible to enter medical school. The initial phase of undergraduate medical education contains, to varying degrees, general education in subjects such as biology, chemistry, physics, and mathematics, as well as a wide range of liberal arts subjects. The academic year starts on April 1 and ends on March 31. Japanese is the official language for medical education.

Programs for college graduates

Programs for college graduates were implemented for the first time at Osaka University in 1975, and by 2006, they had been adopted by 36 (46%) of the 79 medical schools, but they account for fewer than 10% of the available positions. The graduate-entry programs were implemented in a structure parallel to that of the typical entry programs for high school graduates. The graduate-entry programs are four years long in 21 schools and five years long in 11 schools. For the remaining four schools, MD–PhD programs are provided as a part of their graduate-entry programs; the number of seats for the MD–PhD program is limited to five or fewer at each of these schools.

Student selection

Approaches to student selection vary, but all include some combination of paper-based achievement tests, interviews, reports of high school grade-point averages, recommendations from students’ high school principals, and writing essays. In 2005, all 43 of the national and 8 of the prefectural medical schools used a national test administered by the National Center for University Entrance Examinations, which was established in 1988. The required subjects are Japanese language, English, mathematics, two natural sciences (biology, physics, chemistry, geoscience, etc.), and two social studies subjects (Japanese history, world history, human geography, etc.). Private schools require English, mathematics, and two of three natural sciences (biology, chemistry, and physics). The test items are created primarily by the individual schools. There are admission offices in 7 of the 79 schools.

Medical students

In 2006, out of 103,384 applicants, 7,282 matriculated in the 79 schools. In that year, there were fewer than 5% of graduate-entry students per school in 26 schools, 10% in 7 schools, 15% in one school, 20% in another school, and 40% in one other school. The total number of medical students in Japan was 46,800 in 2006, of whom 15,331 (32.8%) were women.

The model core curriculum

In 2001, the Report of the Coordinating Council on the Reform of Medical and Dental Education of the MEXT advocated guidelines for innovative changes to Japanese medical education. The report proposed an exemplary model of an integrated medical education curriculum, a “model core curriculum,” which was developed by the Subcommittee for Research and Development of Medical Education Programs. The model curriculum outlined essential core components of the undergraduate medical education program; these were presented as educational content guidelines with 1,218 specific behavioral objectives. All Japanese medical schools were expected to implement the core curriculum using 70% of the existing contact hours, leaving 30% of contact time to achieve their school-specific curriculum goals. The coordinating council report also contained guidelines for implementing the clinical clerkship and guidelines for evaluating the educational activities of faculty. The guidelines were a product of cooperative work involving representatives of all 79 Japanese medical schools. The guidelines include the essential knowledge and skills of medical education as well as noncognitive elements and topics, such as principles of medical practice, communication and the team approach, problem solving and logical ways of thinking, safety, and risk management.

In response to this report, a series of remarkable changes have occurred in Japanese medical education.

Responses to a survey conducted by the Association of Japanese Medical Colleges in 2005 revealed that the components of the core curriculum had already been implemented in 66 medical schools (83%), were under way in three schools (4%), were being planned by four schools (5%), and had not yet being planned by three schools (4%). Three schools (4%) did not reply to the question.

Curriculum structure

Integrated curriculum.

In 2005, 32 schools (41%) had implemented an integrated curriculum in various ways. In another 38 schools (48%), the curriculum was only partially integrated. Of these 70 schools, integration was throughout all four years in 16 schools, in years 2 to 4 at 19 schools, in year 3 in 15 schools, and in year 4 or later in 11 schools. Precise information was not obtained from nine schools. The remaining nine schools (11%) of Japan’s 79 schools maintained a discipline-oriented curriculum.

Problem-based learning.

Problem-based learning (PBL, or tutorial education) was systematically incorporated into an integrated organ- and system-based curriculum for the first time at Tokyo Women’s Medical University in 1990. In October 2004, a survey indicated that PBL was the prevalent educational method at 63 of the 79 Japanese medical schools (80%), and PBL was planned in an additional 13 schools (16%). Two schools (3%) expressed no intention of adopting PBL at the time of the survey, and one school (1%) did not reply to the questionnaire.

The implementation of PBL in Japanese medical education has accelerated since it was first introduced in 1990. By 1994, three schools (4% of 79 schools) had introduced PBL; from 1995 to 1999, 11 more schools (14%) had done so; and between 2000 and 2004, PBL became the teaching method in 49 schools (62%). PBL was implemented beginning in the first year at 16 schools, at the beginning of the second year in 13 schools, in year 3 in 18 schools, and in year 4 in 16 schools. All of the PBL programs are the so-called “hybrid” type (a mixture of Barrowsian PBL and lectures).

Student assessment

The Common Achievement Test.

The Common Achievement Test (CAT) is a new quality-assurance measure of students’ mastery of the preclinical core curriculum at their medical school. The Common Achievement Tests Organization (CATO) was established in March 2005 as a consortium of all the Japanese medical and dental schools and is responsible for the administration of the CAT. After several nationwide yearly trials since 2002, the CAT was officially implemented in December 2005. Students must take and pass the CAT before starting their clinical education. The content of the CAT and the expected level of achievement have been developed in accordance with the model core curriculum of 2001. The CAT is composed of two phases: a computer-based testing (CBT) phase and an objective structured clinical examination (OSCE).

The CBT phase can be administered at the individual member schools at their convenience; an examinee can access the test from his or her desktop computer. The CBT is composed of 300 items, and the testing time is six hours. The blueprint for the CBT portion of the test was developed with national input from medical school faculty. Subject areas, and the proportion of each for the CBT, are

  • principles of medicine, 5%;general principles of biomedical sciences, 20%;organ-based normal structure, function, pathophysiology, diagnosis, and treatment, 40%;systemic physiological/pathological changes, 10%;introduction to clinical medicine, 15%; andhealth promotion/patient care/society, 10%.

Every year since 2001, approximately 10,000 new items have been collected from all 79 medical schools, then reviewed by the education committee of CATO, edited, tested in trials, reevaluated, and pooled when regarded as appropriate. Item-writing workshops have been held throughout Japan. The nationwide trials have been repeated each year since 2002. The test items are randomized sets of questions from the item pool, which is housed in the central host computer at CATO. The order of the items is shuffled by the computer so that individual examinees will have different-looking examinations, although the contents are the same.

The second part of the CAT is the OSCE. The OSCE assesses clinical competencies in six stations: medical interviewing (10 minutes), head and neck (5 minutes), vital signs and chest (5 minutes), abdomen (5 minutes), neurological examinations (5 minutes), and basic minor surgical procedures and life support (5 minutes). Because of the constraints in facilities and budget, the number of stations was restricted to six in 2005. The evaluators in each station consist of one person from outside and one within the institution, for economic reasons. The evaluation sheets were developed and standardized through repeated trials between 2002 and 2005. Workshops for training standardized patients and OSCE evaluators have been conducted both locally and nationwide.

The CAT is similar in format to the Step 1 examination of the United States Medical Licensing Examination, although it is not actually a licensing examination. Each school establishes its own policy for use of the test results. Schools may choose to use the CAT to perform a formative evaluation or a summative one. Test results are given individually to the students and to the medical schools. The costs per school for the administration of the CAT are ¥1,514,000 ($13,000) each year, and ¥28,000 ($240) for each applicant.

Over 250,000 international students enrol at Japanese universities every year, which is a testimony of the high quality of education provided by Japan, as well as the overall attractive society, lifestyle, and culture.

If you want to study a Bachelor’s or Master’s programme in Japan, you should first take a look at the university application steps. With a few exceptions, they are similar to what you’d normally expect from any international higher education institution.

1. Find a Japanese university to apply to

Here are some of the top-ranked universities in Japan:

  • The University of TokyoTohoku UniversityHokkaido UniversityKyoto UniversityTokyo Institute of Technology

2. Learn where to submit your university application

There is no unified online application platform, which means that international students need to visit the website of their preferred Japanese university to submit an application.

3. Meet the university entry requirements

These are some of the most common documents students need to submit during their application at a Japanese university:

  • completed application formproof of paying the application fee (if applicable)high school diploma (to apply for a Bachelor’s)Bachelor’s diploma (to apply for a Master’s)transcript of recordspassport-sized photo(s)copy of valid passport and/or personal IDmotivation letterletter(s) of recommendationpersonal statement

Depending on your chosen study programme, the university can ask for additional documents. Keep in mind that these documents need to be translated into Japanese or English before being submitted.

Heian Shrine in Kyoto, Japan

Examination for Japanese University Admission for International Students

Many Japanese universities use the Examination for Japanese University Admission for International Students (EJU) to determine if an international student has the necessary academic and Japanese language skills to enrol in one of their undergraduate (Bachelor’s) programmes.

The EJU evaluates 4 subjects:

  • Japanese as a foreign languageScience (basic Physics, Chemistry, Biology)Japan and the world (basic skills in Liberal Arts, critical thinking, and logical abilities)Mathematics (basic skills in Math)

4. Find out about the language requirements

To study in Japan, you might need to prove both your English and Japanese skills. This is determined by each school individually. For English proficiency, you can send test results from:

  • TOEFL iBTIELTS AcademicPTE Academic

To prove your Japanese proficiency, you need to pass the Japanese-Language Proficiency Test (JLPT).

5. Apply before the application deadlines

Japanese universities have different application deadlines depending on the system they use. The official university website is the best place where you can learn more about these important dates. To give you a general idea, here are a few examples:

For universities with two intake periods

  • application deadline for the spring intake: Novemberapplication deadline for the autumn intake: April

For universities with three intake periods

  • application deadline for the spring intake: October/Novemberapplication deadline for the summer intake: February/Aprilapplication deadline for the autumn intake: June/July

Japan is a famous island country in East Asia, and is one of the most densely populated countries in the world, with most of its 127 million people living on the country’s narrow coastal plains. After World War 2, the country experienced rapid economic growth, and over the years became one of the largest economies in the world. Japan also has the second-highest life expectancy and a very high standard of living.

Japan’s culture, music, and cuisine are famous all over the world, and the country has become a top destination for ex-pats who are looking for a place to start a new life. In this article, we will go over the steps to become a medical doctor in Japan.

  • Kyoto University Scholarships MEXT Scholarships University of Tokyo Scholarships 

1. Japanese Language Requirements

Any East Asian language will be fairly difficult to learn for most people who don’t come from that part of the world. While not as hard as Mandarin, Japanese is a very challenging language and can take quite some time to master. Sure, learning things such as ordering a meal, or asking for directions is in fact not that difficult, but being good enough at the language to be able to work as a doctor is a whole nother story.

In order to pass the medical exams needed for obtaining a medical license, which we will talk about in more detail later, you will need to have a near-native knowledge of the Japanese language, and even more than that as you will be asked to know some Japanese medical terms that aren’t known to most natives. So, if you are serious about becoming a medical doctor in Japan, you better start learning the language as soon as possible.

2. Study in Japanese Medical Schools

Studying medicine in Japan is the easiest way for someone to become a doctor in Japan, and is heavily recommended if you are serious about doing so. Japanese medical education lasts for a total of 6 years. The first two years are dedicated to general studies, which then transition into two more years of applied medical sciences. Years 5 and 6 are reserved for a clinical clerkship at the University hospital that they are attending, learning about many different things related to their field.

Applying for medical university is very easy and the process is the same for both foreigners and Japanese citizens. However, you not only have to be fluent in the language, but you also need to be very familiar with scientific Japanese, which is pretty much impossible for someone who hasn’t spent at least a few years in the country before applying for university. If that’s the case, you also have the option of obtaining your undergraduate degree elsewhere, and then take on a postgraduate degree in Japan, which you can find a large number of in English, for further specialization.

3. Pass the Medical Exams

Before becoming eligible to take the final medical license, you first need to apply for it, but only if you first meet the necessary criteria. If you are a foreign medical graduate from a program similar to ones that can be found in Japan (6+ years), and you are also licensed in the country that you graduated from, you can freely apply for the final licensing exam in Japan. However, whether you are approved or not is a big if, and it varies from case to case, with no clear reason why some candidates are accepted and some not. Another pre-requisite to taking the exam is an evaluation of your language skills. You need at least an N1 level in order to qualify, but in practice, if you want to pass the exam, you will need a lot more, as N1 is generally thought of as barely good enough to apply to medical school in Japan, let alone passing the final exam.

4. Complete the Residency

After obtaining their medical license, before opening their practice or finding a job in a hospital, all doctors are required to spend 2 years as a resident before being able to start working as a regular doctor in Japan. The residency must be completed in either a university or a hospital that is affiliated with a university. Prior to applying for residency, candidates can select a course in a broad category that is of interest to them. Please have in mind that for graduates of medical schools outside Japan, it is very hard to find residency, as that typically requires connections with Japanese universities, as well as trusted letters of recommendation.

5. Getting Medical License

The final exam you need to pass to get a medical license in Japan is called the National Medical Practitioners Examination. Passing this exam is no easy feat, especially for foreigners, but if you possess the necessary language skills and technical knowledge, it is not more difficult than any final medical exam you will find around the world. If you pass the test, you immediately become a licensed medical professional in the country, but you will need to complete 2 years of residency before becoming eligible to seek employment.

6. Getting a Work Visa to Become a Doctor in Japan

Medical professionals generally fall under the standard Working Visa that Japan has. The process of applying for the visa is fairly simple. You need to fill out a Japanese visa application form at your local Japanese consulate. You also need to bring your passport, a recent photograph, a written letter from your employer stating your position and expected salary, as well as a Certificate of Eligibility (COE).

7. Finding jobs as a doctor

After obtaining a medical license, you are free to start your own practice or look for employment in a hospital in Japan, but not before you complete the 2 years of mandatory residence, of course. Private practitioners, especially when it comes to psychiatry, are few and far between in the country. If you want to find a job at a hospital, you can look for any popular job-finding platform on the internet, but keep in mind that applying online with little to no connections in the medical field in Japan, means that you will have a very slim chance of getting the job compared to other native and perhaps more well-connected candidates. That being said, there is also a small demand for English speaking doctors across hospitals in Japan, especially in major cities, so you can be on the lookout for that.

8. Becoming a doctor in Japan as a foreign-trained doctor

Assuming that a foreign-trained doctor also has a medical license from the country he is coming from, he is eligible to apply for the final exam before getting a medical license in Japan. The candidate will, of course, also have to possess a very high level of knowledge in scientific Japanese to become a doctor in Japan. If he fulfills those two conditions, it generally means that the candidate will be accepted to take the final exam, but this is not always the case. Upon passing the exam, the candidate is eligible to start the mandatory residence period which lasts for two years, after which he is free to start seeking employment as a medical professional in Japan.

Since the mid-20th century, international migration of physicians has received scholarly attention, with research often focused on patterns and impact. Amid growing return migration due to evolving medical infrastructure in home nations and interest in international standardization of medical education, examining the experience of international medical graduates (IMGs) has the potential to shed light on differences and similarities in educational methods across nations. This may deepen our understanding of medical education internationally and in the United States.

IMGs have significant exposure to clinical training in their home country, which often includes formal postgraduate training. Their experiences provide opportunities for international comparisons of clinical training. We focus on IMGs from Japan who commonly complete some residency training before graduate medical education (GME) in the United States. In addition, many Japanese IMGs choose US training in part to help improve medical education in their home nation.

GME in Japan consists of 2 years of general residency with rotations in core clinical areas (internal medicine, surgery, pediatrics, emergency medicine), followed by clinical specialty training. The government directly oversees GME, including regulating the number of general residency slots for each geographic region and reviewing programs.Residency program criteria are congruent with Accreditation Council for Graduate Medical Education (ACGME) Common Program Requirements, but place more emphasis on clinical exposure and experiential learning than ACGME standards, potentially due to government compensation for training programs limited to less than $10,000 per trainee annually. In addition, medical team roles are not clearly delineated, and expectations for didactics, assessment, and feedback are less rigorous than in the United States. There is limited research on physician wellness in Japan and no discussion of work hour limits in residency requirements. Instructional guidelines for residency training in Japan recommend aligning training with US residency attributes but are not legally binding. There is variation in the training experience across programs, and Japan’s modest specialty certification criteria have prompted concern about physician competency

These observations suggest Japanese IMGs should view their US residency experience as superior. At the same time, perceptions also are strongly influenced by other factors, including the culture of clinical training and practice and interpersonal relationships. In this study, we examine Japanese IMGs’ perceptions of the respective attributes of residency training in the United States and Japan.


We chose a qualitative design, applying constructivist exploratory thematic analysis, to understand Japanese IMGs’ perceptions of the attributes of US and Japanese training. Constructivism recognizes that researchers’ knowledge of the subject matter and experiences influence data collection and interpretation.


We purposively sampled participants by (1) soliciting names of potential participants from training programs with a history of educating Japanese IMGs, and (2) asking participants to propose other potential participants, ideally with experiences contrasting their own. Inclusion criteria were graduation from a Japanese medical school and completion of clinical training in the United States within 1 to 15 years at time of interview. We purposively sampled physicians practicing in the United States and in Japan.

The study was approved by the Institutional Review Board at the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center. Participants provided informed consent.

Data Collection and Analysis

Thirty-three of 37 physicians contracted agreed to participate. We conducted individual semistructured interviews in English (in person, via telephone, or via Skype) between February 2013 and October 2015. Participants received an outline of the questions beforehand to enable reflection on the topics. We asked about attributes of their US residency versus training in Japan, followed by relevant probes (eg, the value of US training and differences between US and Japanese training). Interviews were transcribed verbatim.

We independently analyzed transcripts using open coding, discussed emerging themes, and combined them to create an initial codebook. Coding progressed in an iterative fashion; constant comparison of codes from current interviews with codes from prior interviews informed modification of questions and probing techniques in subsequent interviews. Disagreements were resolved through discussion. Interviews were conducted until themes were saturated. Coding was performed using Atlas.ti 7.0 (Scientific Software, Berlin, Germany).

To enhance the relevance of findings, where possible, we matched themes to the ACGME Common Program Requirements. As a validity check, we collected feedback on the themes from 4 participants representing different specialties. All corroborated the identified themes.


Participant Characteristics

The 33 participants graduated from medical school in Japan, and 31 completed 2 or more years of Japanese residency (the remaining 2 had 1 year). Participants completed US residencies in 7 specialties at 13 US programs. All but 1 trained after the implementation of US work hour limits. Current job descriptions for 30 participants involve working with residents in the United States or Japan. Specialties with the largest number of participants were internal medicine (22) and family medicine (6). Added demographic details are provided as online supplemental material.

Qualitative Analysis

We organized participants’ responses into 3 categories: (1) attributes of US GME preferable to Japanese residency; (2) attributes of training with no clear preference for either system; and (3) attributes of Japanese residency preferable to a US residency. Two themes emerged: (1) comments related to the ACGME Common Program Requirements, and (2) comments about the culture of medical training and practice. Across both themes, there was no difference in comments from participants practicing in the United States and those working in Japan. For quotations, participants in the United States are numbered 1 to 14, and those in Japan are numbered 15 to 33.

Attributes of US Residency Preferable to Japanese Residency

Participants described attributes in this category that are summarized below. Table 1 shows illustrative quotes. Attributes align with ACGME Common Program Requirements and with the culture of medical training and practice.

ACGME Common Program Requirements:

The predominant attribute of US residency training was the overarching design to assure residents’ development of competency for independent clinical practice, including clear goals, graded and progressive responsibility, conditional independence, and summative evaluation. Participants admired the effectiveness and efficiency of progressive responsibility and senior trainees teaching junior trainees, contrasted with reliance on faculty to directly teach trainees in Japan. Other admired attributes of US residency were regular didactic sessions and protected time for participation, training in evidence-based medicine, research including formal mentoring by faculty, clinical role models in primary care fields currently underdeveloped in Japan, sharing decision-making with patients, and programs’ efforts at continuous improvement.

Culture of Medical Training and Practice:

Participants highlighted benefits of a US training culture that encourages discussion, in contrast to Japan, where questioning senior team members may be perceived as disrespectful. There was recognition of support for phlebotomy and patient transport, which are common resident responsibilities in Japan. Participants also valued their exposure to different cultural backgrounds and associated ways of thinking in the more diverse US residency programs, contrasted with Japan’s relatively homogeneous ethnic makeup.

Attributes of Residency Training Without Clear Preference for Either System

Participants described attributes of training where there was a lack of agreement about which system is preferable, with interviewees often describing positive features of both systems. Three attributes match to ACGME Common Program Requirements: work hours and transition of care, clinical documentation, and feedback. A fourth attribute was the attending-resident relationship. Table 2 contains illustrative quotes.

Work Hours and Transition of Care:

Participants commented on the importance of work-life balance codified by the US GME system. Some complained that work hour limits and frequent handoffs fragmented patient care and learners’ understanding of disease progression and recovery. By contrast, in Japan, individuals have continuous responsibility for their patients’ care, and interviewees felt this instilled stronger ownership of patients and accelerated clinical experience.

Clinical Documentation:

Participants reported increased documentation of patient care in the United States. While recognizing the value of recording decision-making, they expressed concern for excessive detail motivated by billing and liability considerations.


Interviewees explained the explicit nature and increased sophistication of multi-directional feedback in US GME, but disagreed on the benefits of the feedback received. Several participants recalled helpful specific comments, but others reported affirmation of their work that failed to guide self-improvement.

Attending-Resident Relationship:

Descriptions of attending-resident relationships in the 2 systems paralleled those of resident work hours and transitions of care. In the United States, relationships appeared more compartmentalized within a system of regimented didactic experiences. By contrast, comments about Japanese faculty were characterized by on-the-fly teaching at all hours intertwined with efforts to know trainees on a personal level, including through social events.

Attributes of Japanese Residency Preferable to US Residency

Participants described attributes of Japanese residency, including (1) dedication to training; (2) bedside diagnostics and procedural skills; and (3) interpretation of radiology imaging. Table 3 contains representative quotes. Japanese residency guidelines list bedside procedures and radiology interpretation. However, their acquisition was observed in the context of a training culture that stresses self-reliance and self-directed learning.

Entering US clinical training requires completing requirements and navigating an application process differing from the Japanese system. Additionally, increases to the number of US medical school graduates have increased competition for US residency positions. We examined profiles of Japanese International Medical Graduates (IMGs) who completed US clinical training, the timelines to securing US clinical positions, and the greatest challenges during this process and methods to overcome them.


Individual semistructured interviews were conducted with 35 purposively sampled Japanese IMGs. We performed exploratory thematic analysis using iterative data collection and constant comparison.


Twenty percent of participants lived in a native English-speaking country during childhood. The United States Medical Licensing Examinations were completed at ages 25-40 years. Challenges were categorized as: (1) English communication, (2) understanding the application process, (3) motivation to persevere through the process, (4) time management to complete Educational Commission for Foreign Medical Graduates requirements, (5) receiving letters of recommendation and overcoming competition for US residency positions, (6) financial cost of the process. Pragmatic generally self-dependent methods helped overcome challenges 1-4 and 6. Participants detailed personal or, more commonly, institutional connections to US training programs required to overcome challenge 5.


Japanese IMGs pursue US clinical training from diverse backgrounds commonly without the advantage of prior English fluency. Amidst increased competition internationally to enter US residency coupled with cultural and linguistic differences making this challenge often greater for Japanese IMGs, the competition to participate in institutionalized connections to US training programs is anticipated to increase.


Internationally, medical education is rapidly evolving in response to globalization and changing societal needs.1 American medical education is directly or indirectly influential to Japanese medical education, currently especially in emerging disciplines such as primary care medicine, geriatrics, palliative care, and infectious diseases. In turn, opportunity for some Japanese physicians to pursue US clinical training is important.

Entering US clinical training requires completing ECFMG (Educational Commission for Foreign Medical Graduates) certification and applying via the ERAS (Electronic Residency Application Service) process, which differ significantly from Japanese systems. Distinctions include the submission of a portfolio including examination scores, faculty evaluations, and letters of recommendation in the American application process. Additionally, the ECFMG has mandated that applicants graduate from accredited medical schools as of 2023.7 Japan is meeting this requirement through establishment and ECFMG recognition of the JACME (Japan Accreditation Council for Medical Education) in 2017, followed by steady accreditation of medical schools across Japan.

Competition to enter US residency is impacted by the demand and supply for residency positions, and both are changing. Motivated by concerns of a future doctor shortage in the United States, from 2002-2003 to 2018-2019 the number of US first-year allopathic medical school students and osteopathic medical students increased by 31% to 21 622 students and by 164% to 8124 students, respectively. Allopathic medical students receive the conventional Doctorate of Medicine (MD), while osteopathic medical students receive a Doctorate of Osteopathy (DO) in a long-standing American physician training landscape that recognizes these slightly differing philosophies. Osteopathic medical students are eligible to take the USMLE and over half matriculate to allopathic residency training programs. During the above interim, the number of US residency positions has increased, but at a slower rate than the applicant population. These developments have increased competition for residency, with manifestations including a greater than 70% increase in the number of applications per residency program.

The number of US residency positions exceeds the number of US medical school graduates, meaning there is ample US training opportunity for IMGs (International Medical Graduates). Nonetheless, the competition is stiff. IMGs perform significantly better on the USMLE (United States Medical Licensing Examination) but experience a 51% residency match rate, 35% lower than for US graduates. These statistics are roughly unchanged since 2002, but because of the increase in applications, residency directors are changing how they screen applicants. Changes include eliminating a holistic review of the applications and raising requirements for applicants invited to interviews. In some cases, residency programs that previously commonly accepted IMGs are now filled by US graduates.

Compared to most IMGs, Japanese face steeper barriers to entering and succeeding in US training, including linguistic distance and the absence of a culture of migration. In these global and local contexts, understanding the challenges and successes of Japanese physicians who have navigated US clinical training is increasingly relevant. Guidebooks exist for Japanese trainees interested in pursuing US training, but a data-driven inductive study has not been performed. In this study of Japanese physicians who have completed US clinical training, we examine the greatest challenges to securing US clinical training positions and methods to overcome them. Relatedly, we examine educational and linguistic backgrounds to help develop profiles of this physician population.

Guide to Health Insurance and Healthcare System in Japan | InterNations


This report is complemented by a separate report from the same study that examines challenges for Japanese IMGs during US clinical training.18 Identical participants and methods were used, and the data were collected and analyzed simultaneously.

2.1 Study approach

A qualitative study design, specifically Constructivist exploratory thematic analysis, was selected given our interest in developing a conceptual understanding of which Japanese physicians become US clinically trained and how they achieve this goal. Constructivist methodology recognizes that data collection and interpretation are influenced by researchers’ prior knowledge of the subject matter. The primary investigator completed all medical trainings in the United States but worked at a Japanese residency program for 3 years prior to commencing this study. The secondary investigator is a Japanese IMG. Both investigators have completed fellowships in medical education with coursework in qualitative methodology, and the primary investigator has previously conducted qualitative research. Both investigators are employed at US teaching institutions as clinician educators and have contributed to the entrance into and education during US residency for IMGs from many countries including Japan.

2.2 Participant sampling

Japanese IMGs working in the United States and Japan were purposively sampled with the goal of identifying diverse experiences. In the absence of a comprehensive database of Japanese IMGs, we identified potential participants by (a) asking participants to suggest other potential participants, optimally with experiences contrasting their own, and (b) requesting names of Japanese graduates from training programs in the United States and Japan who had educated Japanese IMGs. Inclusion criteria were graduation from a Japanese medical school and completion of US clinical training within one to fifteen years at time of interview. Additionally, a participant group of approximately 50% returnees to Japan and 50% practitioners in the United States was targeted. These parameters were chosen because separate work examines experiences after US training. Thirty-five of 39 contacted physicians agreed to participate. Each participant provided informed consent. One or both investigators had prior relationships with eleven of the participants but had not previously discussed the issues in this study. The study was approved by the Institutional Review Board at the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center.

2.3 Data collection and analysis

We performed individual semistructured interviews in person, via phone, or via Skype from February 2013 until October 2015. Several days beforehand, participants received a question guide to allow reflection on the subject matter. Interviews were transcribed verbatim by a professional transcriptionist. Because the research was based at a US institution with local funding, hiring a transcriptionist and documenting expenses were simplified by performing the interviews in English. The investigators shared the interviewing responsibilities. The first six interviews were independently analyzed using open coding to create an initial codebook. Subsequent interviews and coding progressed in an iterative fashion such that findings from earlier interviews informed probing questions in later interviews. The primary investigator coded all transcripts. The secondary investigator independently coded seven transcripts and reviewed all of the primary investigator’s coded transcripts and memos. We discussed our findings to resolve any disagreements and conducted interviews until themes were saturated. The software Atlas.ti 7.0 (Scientific Software) assisted the coding process.

In this study, participants were asked closed-ended questions about their childhood English exposure, medical school experiences including international electives, timing of USMLE testing, and age upon entering US training. Participants were asked open-ended questions about (a) the most challenging parts of the process to become a resident physician in the United States, (b) how they overcame those challenges, and (c) if there were people who helped along the way during their preparation. Follow-up questions probed replies to the closed-ended and open-ended questions, and per the iterative relationship with data interpretation described above, were influenced by preceding interviews.

To enhance readability, we performed minor grammar editing of quotations. We confirmed the themes with two participants as a validity check.


3.1 Participant characteristics

Of the 35 participants, 80% (28/35) never lived in a native English-speaking country during childhood. The participants attended 23 distinct medical schools. Roughly half of them participated in a clinical elective in the United States and/or observership at a US Naval Hospital in Japan (USNH). The participants completed the USMLE examinations most commonly during postgraduate year (PGY) 1-2 and entered US training most commonly at age 28-30 years, but the ranges were from the 5th year of medical school to PGY 15 and age 25-40 years, respectively. Table 1 contains further details. With two exceptions, participants completed USMLE Step examinations within 2 years of taking Step 1. No difference in the timing of the examination was observed between participants who completed medical school recently vs remotely

 Challenges and methods to overcome them during preparation for US residency

Six themes emerged among the challenges encountered by participants in their preparation for US residency: (1) English communication; (2) understanding the application process; (3) motivation to persevere through the process; (4) time management to complete the ECFMG requirements; (5) after completing the ECFMG requirements, receiving letters of recommendation and overcoming the intense competition for US residency positions; and (6) financial cost of the entire process. Participants described methods used to overcome each challenge. Table 2 contains representative quotes for the first four challenges.Table 2. Challenges and methods to overcome them during preparation for US residency

ChallengeMethods to overcome challengeRepresentative quotes
EnglishExtra instructionI bought a 6 month English conversation school package… I went so frequently that I finished [the package] within a month. (6)Self-learning[While I was a full-time resident physician in Japan,] when I got home I listened to or watched English educational programs, half an hour or one hour every day. (2)Clinical experiences in the United StatesMy externship at [a US teaching hospital] definitely helped my speaking skills. (4)Understanding the application processSenior connections[My Japanese residency program] has a strong alumni group [who] always tried to help, like, “Oh, you’re interested in this so you should talk to this person.” I had many connections. (34)[As I prepared for ECFMG certification] I called those three graduates [of my medical school who pursued US training] and asked more specific questions about… obtaining a residency position in the US (4)[My mentor, a US trained Japanese IMG,] tried to teach me English and medical knowledge, especially, US-style medical knowledge. For one year he gave me many opportunities to present patients in front of US

1. Japanese Language

Firstly we will be looking at the Japanese language which is a vital requirement on how to become a medical doctor in Japan.For most people who are not from that region of the world, learning any East Asian language will be challenging. While not as difficult as Mandarin, Japanese is a difficult language to master and can take a long time to learn.Sure, mastering simple things like ordering a cab or asking for directions isn’t difficult, but being good or fluent enough in the language to work as a medical doctor is a different story.

You’ll need a near-native grasp of the Japanese language to pass the medical examinations required for acquiring a medical license, which we’ll go through in more detail later, and even more than that because you’ll be asked to know several Japanese medical terms and words that most natives are unfamiliar with.

So, if you want to practice medicine in Japan, you should start studying the language as soon as possible so that you can get a grasp of the language. Check out more language requirements at Japanese language requirements for foreign students

2. Study in Japanese Medical schools

Studying medicine in Japan is the most straightforward path on how to become a medical doctor in Japan, and it is strongly advised if you are serious about pursuing this career path. Medical school in Japan lasts a total of 6 years.

The first two years of study are devoted to general courses, followed by 2 years of applied medical sciences. Years 5 and 6 are set aside for a clinical clerkship at the university hospital where they are enrolled, where they will study a variety of topics pertaining to their area.It is quite simple and straightforward to apply to medical schools in Japan, and the process is the same for both foreigners and Japanese citizens.However, you must not only be proficient in the language but also highly familiar with medical and scientific terms in the Japanese language, which is nearly hard for someone who has not lived in the country for at least a few years before applying to university.If that’s the case, you can get your undergraduate degree elsewhere and then pursue a postgraduate degree in Japan, where you can discover a great variety of options in English and other languages.

3. Pass Japan Medical Examination

Next step on this list of how to become a medical doctor in Japan. Before you may take the final medical license exams, you must first apply for it, but only if you meet all the requirements. You can easily apply for the final licensing exam in Japan if you are a foreign medical graduate from a program similar to those available in Japan (6+ years) and you are also licensed in the nation where you graduated or studied.

However, whether you are accepted or not is the main issue, though it varies from case to case, with no apparent reason why some candidates are accepted while others are not. An assessment of your language skills is also required before you can take the exam. To qualify for the exams, you must have at least an N1 level.

You’ll need a lot more if you want to pass the exam, as N1 is considered barely competent enough to apply to medical school in Japan, let alone pass the final exam.

how to become a medical doctor in Japan

4. Residency

This is another very important point on the list of steps on how to become a medical doctor in Japan. Before beginning their clinic or finding a job in a hospital, all doctors must complete a two-year residency program before working as regular doctors in Japan.

The residency must be completed at either a university or a university-affiliated hospital. Candidates might choose a course from a broad area that interests them before applying for residency.

Please bear in mind that residency is extremely difficult to get for graduates of medical schools outside of Japan, as it often involves links with Japanese colleges as well as reputable letters of recommendation.

5. Getting your medical license 

The National Medical Practitioners Examination is the final exam you must pass to obtain a medical license in Japan. Getting a medical license is not just one among the list on how to become a medical doctor in Japan, it is a must-have.

Passing this exam is not simple, especially for foreigners, but it is not tougher than any other final medical exam you can find anywhere in the world, if you have the appropriate language skills and technical knowledge.

If you pass the exam, you will become a certified medical doctor in the country right away, but you will need to complete two years of residency before you can work.

6. Work Visa

Getting a work visa is another vital step on this list of how to become a medical doctor in Japan. Medical practitioners are usually covered by Japan’s regular Working Visa. The visa application procedure is usually easy and straightforward.

At your local Japanese consulate or embassy, you must complete a Japanese visa application form. Your passport, a recent photograph, a written letter from your company detailing your position and expected income, and a Certificate of Eligibility are also required (COE).

7. Get a Job as a medical doctor

This is the last step we will discuss on the list of how to become a medical doctor in Japan. After obtaining your license, the next question on your mind will be getting a Job.

After receiving a medical license, you are free to open your own practice or seek to work in a Japanese hospital, but only after completing the two-year required residency requirement.

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