“Japanese Only” doctors: “Fast Doctor” House Call Service in Tokyo (which takes foreign traveler insurance) closed to all foreigners due to Covid. Hippocratic Oath? UPDATE: The “Japanese Only” rule has been removed.


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Hi Blog. Another casualty of the Covid scare in Japan has been the Hippocratic Oath, where this English-language medical service called Fast DOCTOR (see Japanese site, and English site) (where a doctor will make house calls for a flat fee of 50,000 yen) is now closed to all foreigners. Screen captures of the English site follow.

You can comment below about the rather odd things about the English site (including the iStock photos of non-Asian practitioners, and the testimonials at the bottom without a single recommendation in English). But the fact remains that this medical service is contravening their medical oath to treat all patients. Second, the “foreign” patients they are likely to treat (especially in this time of strict Covid checks at the border and better vaccination programs overseas) at this time are less likely to be infected by the pandemic than the average Japanese patient. Finally, it of course assumes that foreigners who read English are travelers, not Japan residents. Given all of these things that defy both good physical and social science, I wonder what kind of medical care they offer in the first place. Debito Arudou, Ph.D.

UPDATE: A defender of these practices steps forward below to gaslight, claiming “FastDoctor continues to offer its services to foreign residents of Japan.” See comments section for this blog entry.

(Screen captures of their English site follow, courtesy of EG. FYI, their Facebook page is https://www.facebook.com/fastdoctor.tokyo/)


UPDATE AUGUST 29, 2021:  FastDoctor’s website has been amended to remove their “Japanese Only” rules.  I have received no notification or justification for this from the company.  (I simply rechecked their website as a followup.  But it’s gone.  File under another exclusionary sign disappearing when social shame is brought to bear.  –Debito

Screen capture from https://fastdoctor.jp/global/ 

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15 comments on ““Japanese Only” doctors: “Fast Doctor” House Call Service in Tokyo (which takes foreign traveler insurance) closed to all foreigners due to Covid. Hippocratic Oath? UPDATE: The “Japanese Only” rule has been removed.

  • Jim Di Griz says:

    A different story I saw a couple of days ago, and I couldn’t work out why it troubled me until I saw this blogpost.


    ‘Yuki, a medical worker, worried especially about the pandemic. But she began cheering when she noticed patients at her hospital beaming as they watched the Games. “I saw the power of sports, and I thought it was wonderful,” she said. “Athletes made outstanding performances, and we wanted to cheer for them.”’

    It’s like something from North Korea.
    This is what you get with low press freedom and nationalism mixed in; a medical worker in the middle of the pandemic abandoning science due to the magic power of Japanese winning gold medals to heal the sick.

    When the propaganda is this blatant, anyone outside looking in just thinks you’re a nut job.

    • The Declaration of Geneva (a modern version of the now obsolete Hippocratic oath states:

      I WILL NOT PERMIT considerations of age, disease or disability, creed, ethnic origin, gender, nationality, political affiliation, race, sexual orientation, social standing or any other factor to intervene between my duty and my patient;

      The Japan Medical Association Guidelines for professional ethics (https://www.med.or.jp/english/journal/pdf/2009_02/075_091.pdf)
      has no similar provision.

  • While I understand you are writing as a commentator and not as a journalist, I still need to ask: Did you contact FastDoctor and ask them to clarify the reasons for the change? When I read the closure notice on the site, my first reaction was, “Well of course they closed the service to foreign users. Foreign tourism is down 99% from two years ago. Running that part of the business in this environment would certainly be a money loser.” Is it possible that that is the reason for the closure, and not fear of foreign cooties? It they were such racists, why did they bother catering to foreigners in the first place?

    — Dunno. Feel free to ask them. Either way it’s not kosher in terms of medical oaths, or even epidemiological science.

    • If a medical practice closes one of its locations, that is not a violation of a medical oath to serve all people, even during a pandemic. If a clinic has one location in Tokyo and one in Yokohama and, for purely financial reasons, opts to close the Yokohama branch, that act does not violate any medical oath given to the people of Yokohama. The same goes for closing what is essentially an overseas branch.

      You have chosen to interpret their use of “foreign” as a moniker for race, but without any evidence. The term could just as well have meant “overseas insurance,” as in, “FastDoctor is closing to those using foreign insurance coverage….” I don’t know if that is the correct meaning, but neither do you. You simply assumed it wasn’t.

      The reality is that FastDoctor continues to offer its services to foreign residents of Japan. I am part of a online community that caters to expats living in Japan. When someone has a medical question, it is quite common to see another member recommend a call to FactDoctor, all with the assumption that the service is still working for them. I have never seen a follow-up comment claiming that it didn’t work due to race-related conflicts.

      — My my, hello there, FastDoctor representative (with the correct rendering of your corporate name without a space in between). I see the profit motive behind your services now.

      And if FastDoctor says they’re refusing foreigners, quote, “Due to COVID‑19 pandemic, FastDOCTOR is closing to foreigners for the foreseeable future” (on the grounds of the pandemic, not due to purely financial reasons or foreign insurance reasons, as you’re trying to argue now), that’s how I’ll interpret it.

      Their statement says nothing about your claim that “FastDoctor continues to offer its services to foreign residents of Japan.” Gaslight much?

      Of course, that’s before we get into the issue of all “foreign” patients being blanket-linked to foreign insurance as grounds for refusal, as you’re suddenly trying to argue. Nor are they closing one of their locations to everyone. Only to all foreigners. None of your arguments correspond to the statement from FastDoctor.

      And it is not my job to make their policies clear. It’s FastDoctor’s. Especially as a medical provider. How many Non-Japanese patients saw this statement as worded and went without medical care?

      You don’t get to back-pedal and second-guess their meaning now, or gaslight us. Bye.

      • Hey Tim

        Nice to hear you are part of some “online community”…whatever that means. I have lived here more than 25 years and have never seen anything like this before from any type of medical practitioner, which was clearly highlighted in Yellow on the webpage (first page). As a matter of fact I had foreign insurance for several years when i first came here and it was never, ever used for a reason to deny service.

        “Due to COVID‑19 pandemic, FastDOCTOR is closing to foreigners for the foreseeable future. Sorry for inconvenience. In case of emergency, please call 119.”

        Are you kidding me?!?! Debito san is being too nice. The statement ic clear as day and is indefensible.

    • @Tim, who said:

      “Well of course they closed the service to foreign users. Foreign tourism is down 99% from two years ago. Running that part of the business in this environment would certainly be a money loser.”

      Wow. The spark within thy dome shines most dimly.

      You speak as if there has to be two different businesses – one branch where the doctors can only speak English and another one where they can only speak Japanese. So you shut down the branch that only treats foreigners because they are no longer profitable. That seems to be exactly what you think. No other explanation. So then the Japanese doctors who also happen to speak English cannot treat Japanese customers so they must be let go. Amazing logic. You do good business.

      Unless…unless, you think that, for example, a company like Starbucks, a company that serves all races/nationalities, should start refusing to do business with customers who come from races that only represent very small percentages of their customer base. You are a business genius. A f’ing biznez genius. It makes sense to close down that “part of the business” that is a “money loser”. Palestinian customers? Sorry, you can’t come in, we lose money serving you people because…um… look I’m bizniz genius OK.

      I try to understand people’s arguments, but this one? Boy! There is a fundamental lack of knowledge on your part. I can’t yet tell where it is, but I have a few guesses.

      If a medical clinic in the USA put a notice up on their website saying no foreigners allowed would you bother to contact them to ask why? Would you think its normal because the number of foreign patients were declining, So they should stop helping foreigners.

      You said:
      It they were such racists, why did they bother catering to foreigners in the first place?

      Money. The 50,000yen extortionate base fee is about two orders of magnitude greater than a normal consultation fee.

      Why don’t you know this?

  • I usally do not comment. But I am on this.
    Tim is the usual foreign in Japan White Knight. They look for any slight against Japan and as a foreign White Knight they jump on their trusty steed and off they go.
    Tim just can’t help it. An obvious kick to foreign residents in Japan who pay their taxes, have jobs, and families and have either private or national insurance.
    All this flies over Tim the foreign in Japan White Knight’s head and he knee jerks to blame the foreigners for misunderstanding free market operations in a pandemic fairy tale.
    Shame on you Tim. Your knighthood is revoked.

  • IsOverJapan says:

    In somewhat related news where foreigners are being a scapegoat for COVID (or in this case being set up to be a scapegoat)…


    So the BOE doesn’t consider ALTs teachers, yet wants these same ALT to participate in these classes full of young children who can carry god knows what just from playing around, which that would also include COVID.

    On the chance some ALTs in Osaka end up getting COVID, the Japanese population can continue to blame foreigners even if it’s out of their control.

    Not to mention the fact that Japan completely screwed up throughout this whole ordeal and are going through a vaccine supply shortage recently.

    Talk about damned if you do, damned if you don’t.

  • This has all been a gross misunderstanding. In my original comments, my intent was not to defend FastDoctor. I don’t know anything about them, and they might be as anti-foreigner as Debito states.

    I have been following Debito’s blog for close to a decade, and have taken seriously the articles he posts. That is why I was so surprised when I read this article. To be blunt, it is based purely on assumptions. Those assumptions may be correct, but they are assumptions nonetheless. I provided an alternate theory for FastDoctor’s behavior to show how poor those assumptions were.

    I also encouraged Debito to do a bit of follow-up in this case, to confirm that what he stated was accurate. If it turns out that he was wrong, how will that reflect on the rest of his site’s content? How will falsely accusing someone of being racist resolve any problems? Again, he might not be wrong in this case, but he hasn’t done the necessary research to determine it one way or the other.

    — Well then,
    a) Don’t be so exculpatory of this company; my read of what they said on their website is far less presumptuous than your read. In fact, even though you said, “my intent was not to defend FastDoctor”, reread what you wrote — because that’s exactly what you did.

    b) Your criticism is being directed at the wrong target. If somebody puts up a “Japanese Only” sign (as FastDoctor did), then I’ll take that as written, thanks. I don’t feel the need to contact them to determine exactly what they mean by “Japanese Only”. (You can contact them, however. And speaking of…)

    c) Feel free to do some research on your own to prove your own case. I’m making the claims based upon what FastDoctor wrote, and my claims are within the realm of reasonable interpretation. You, on the other hand, are the one making claims/assumptions that simply aren’t supported by what’s written by FastDoctor (e.g., you wrote, “FastDoctor continues to offer its services to foreign residents of Japan.” Says who? Not FastDoctor on their website.), yet you’re not doing any work of your own to support your own claims/assumptions.

    So, if you have facts that contradict my conclusions based upon the evidence available, please feel free to share them. Off you go and contact FastDoctor. But don’t come here essentially accusing me of having poor assumptions when there’s no evidence that they’re poor (while FastDoctor’s notice as written amply indicates that they’re true). If you present no evidence beyond unsupported arguments, no wonder a “gross misunderstanding” happens. But you brought that down on yourself.

    • Loverilakkuma says:


      No matter how you look at it, there’s no shred of evidence that FastDoctor is offering non-Japanese residents emergent medical care. Their English webpage is a make-shift that attracts people like you to make believe they ARE reaching out to non-Japanese community now. It doesn’t. They don’t have any track record at all because they haven’t even started it yet. If FastDoctor is truly honest about hippocratic oath in their UberMed service, then why do they need bother mentioning foreigners in the first place? Is it because they have an inherent bias toward non-Japanese because of insurance outside Japanese soil? Or is it because they believe non-Japanese patients are the cause of recent delta variant surge, by following medical racism that assumes non-Japanese have immuno-compromise system compared to Japanese? Who’s making that racialized claim? That’s the kind of assumptions that culminate into “gross misunderstanding.” It spreads like COVID pandemic. You just showed its example by bringing up your own issue.

    • Note that the Japanese does not say anything about “Due to COVID‑19 pandemic, we are currently experiencing a surge in house call inquiries, so it may be difficult to respond within 30 minutes. In case of emergency, please call 119.” If there’s a need for some kind of warning in English, why wouldn’t there be a need for some kind of similar warning in Japanese?

      And, as indicated by another commenter, the exclusion seems to be unchanged in other languages. Here’s an English translation (Google translate) of the Korean:

      “Due to the COVID-19 pandemic FastDOCTOR is currently not available for foreigners visiting Japan. Sorry for the inconvenience
      In case of emergency, call 119.”

  • Maria Godebska says:

    I went to the website to take a look at the update in the other languages (traditional Chinese; simplified Chinese; Korean) and they continue to refuse service to them.


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