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Life Science

The Japanese market for pharmaceutical is the second largest in the world, while medical products the third largest. At the same time, the country is facing a rapidly ageing population. Therefore, Japan constitutes great potential in this fast-growing market within life science and health.

Demographic developments has meant that Japan has the world's oldest population with the highest share of the population being over 65 years in the world now. By 2055, 40% of Japan's inhabitants are expected to be over 65. To combat the challenges arisen from this development, Japan is increasingly investing in welfare technology. This includes robotics, automation and solutions such as smart toilets, communication robots, lifting robots, etc. Thus, new technologies and solutions for ageing Asian populations are likely to be developed in Japan. At the same time pensions, social security and healthcare expenses have been on the rise in recent years and will continue to grow with the increasing portion of elderly population.

These developments will contribute to an increasing demand for life science services and products. As a result, there is also heavy investment in innovation and imports of foreign solutions. With the changing demographics in Japan, Japan is also facing labour shortage and increased need for welfare workers, which means that health tech solutions will be key to tackle the challenges.

The market for pharmaceuticals in Japan is the third largest in the world, accounting for 11.7% of the global market. 7 out of the world's 50 largest pharmaceutical companies are Japanese, and there is therefore great potential for increased cooperation between Danish and Japanese companies in this sector. In recent years, Japanese companies are becoming more active on the global stage pursuing open innovation R&D and actively looking for collaborations with foreign companies.

Japan is going through a transformational stage rethinking healthcare delivery and disability support. Products and services that can improve efficiency in delivering care have a very strong value proposition. Scandinavia has a very strong positive image in high quality care and support for elderly and people with disabilities. Furthermore, Japan is very interested in developing the Japanese digital health and health tech area. Overall, Japan has been lagging behind on the topic, however, in recent years this has started to change.

At the embassy, we see how many companies are now looking to move into this space in Japan, both from pharmaceutical companies who are interested in complimentary solutions and more traditional IT companies looking to move into the growing healthcare space. On the regulatory side, the Japanese Pharmaceuticals and Medical Devices Agency, are working with digitalisation as a priority and have established a new department to handle new product applications in the digital space, including initiating fast-track processes for high-need products and solutions. Just recently, guidelines and processes for managing AI-driven healthcare solutions have been established and insurance coverage is expected to come in place shortly.

Denmark possess a wide range of capabilities within the life science sector. The country is a frontrunner within Life Science and the system is constituted by a highly developed network and a strong public-private collaboration between the Danish hospitals, clinics, regions and businesses. Overall, the industry accounts for more than 50,000 jobs and approximately 22% of Danish product export. Specifically, Life Science accounts for 40% of Danish goods export to Japan. Great and pioneering Danish companies within the industry are, among other, Novo Nordisk, Novozymes, Coloplast, Lundbeck, Chr. Hansen and many more – all of which are represented in Japan since many years. Recently, the Danish government has released a new ambitious strategy for Life Science, with a focus on improving frameworks for R&D, health data, enhance sustainable growth and focus on internationalization and cooperation between authorities among other.

In 2017, Denmark and Japan engaged in a 3-year strategic sector agreement on cooperation for the health and life science sector. The agreement is an authority agreement that was operationalized at a bilateral meeting between the health ministries. Due to the positive collaboration and mutual benefits, the agreement for cooperation has been extended without any time limitation.

The objective of health and economic diplomacy is, among other, to support increased stakeholder involvement in regulatory cooperation to achieving clearly defined framework conditions and transparent regulatory processes that promote efficiency and recognise the value of and access to innovative products and services offered to patients and health systems through innovative health technologies.

Read more about Economic Diplomacy and Life Science

Head of Trade

Dinna Aamand Hansen