How does it sound to live in the country with the second-highest life expectancy in the world? It’s great, and there are lots of opportunities waiting for you. A highly developed economy that is improving and welcomes skilled workers. It is the country you can build your future there. If you are a doctor and want to immigrate to Japan, you will find the answer to all of your questions on this page. 

What are the requirements to become a doctor in Japan?

Not every doctor can immigrate to Japan. You need to be qualified and meet the eligibility principles. The below list is the requirements to become a door in Japan. But the way you move to Japan as a doctor is up to your conditions. You might be exempt from one or two stages of your situation. 

Language proficiency 

Learning Japanese and becoming fluent in it is the most important requirement for becoming a doctor in Japan. There are medical tests you have to pass and they require you to know Japanese. 

You need a near-native knowledge fluency skill to become a doctor in Japan. There are medical terms and words that native Japanese speakers might not know. 

If you are determined to immigrate to Japan as a doctor, you have to get fluent in the language and master it. Learn medical terms and talk, write, read and write like a doctor. 

Pass the tests 

If you are a foreign doctor and want to move to Japan, there are some tests that you have to pass. There are two tests that you have to pass. Being fluent in Japanese and having medical knowledge is required to pass these tests. 

Have enough medical knowledge 

Your knowledge and information about medical procedures or medicine must be enough to work as a doctor in Japan. Your knowledge and understanding of medicine must be linked with Japanese language proficiency. 

You must be able to communicate well and convey your meaning to people. 

Get a medical license 

There is a medical license that the Japanese and foreigners who want to become a doctor must get. You need language proficiency and have to pass the tests to get the license. 

Being able to get a work visa 

If you are a foreigner and want to move to Japan as a doctor, you need a work visa. It is mandatory to get a work permit and work visa and fulfill the conditions. 

You will find more information about the work visa procedure in the below section. 

Also, you can watch the video that Visa Library has prepared about the Japan work visa on our YouTube channel

What is the procedure to become a doctor in Japan?

You have to follow these steps to immigrate to Japan as a doctor; 

Step 1. Get a medical degree. 

The first step to immigrating to Japan as a doctor is to get a medical degree or certificate. You have to complete your education and would better work hard to get a high GPA. 

If you have not studied in Japan, you have to complete your education in your home country or a foreign one. 

You can also complete the procedures to become a doctor in your home country. If you do so, you might become exempt from an exam during the procedures. 

Step 2. Become fluent in Japanese. 

You have to work on your language proficiency and learn Japanese. It’s a must to learn Japanese and there is no other choice. 

Not only do you have to learn Japanese, but also you have to learn it like a native speaker. It might take you a long time to master Japanese and learn the medical terms in Japanese. 

 There are some medical languages and terms that Japanese native speakers do not know, and you as a foreigner must know them. 

So there is hard work that needs to be done. You have much harder work to do than a native Japanese speaker. Not only general language proficiency but also, the specialized language of medicine must be learned. 

Japanese language proficiency test is scaled from N1 to N5 but N5 is the first and easiest level and N1 is the hardest level to get. You need an N1 level to become a doctor in Japan. 

You can find more information about Japanese language proficiency tests on their website

Step 3. Submit documents to the Ministry of Health, Labor and Welfare. 

If a foreign person wants to become a doctor in Japan, the Ministry of Health, Labor and Welfare values the applicant and decides whether they are eligible to do so or not. 

Foreign applicants have to send them their documents and supporting documents so they will tell whether they can take the exams. 

These are some of the documents you have to submit; 

  • CV 
  • Graduate certificate 
  • Academic transcripts. 
  • Copy of passport. 
  • Etc. 

If you didn’t attend secondary school in Japan, you have to submit a certificate of JPLTN1 (Japanese Language Certification) as well. 

You have to visit their website and contact them to know the list of supporting documents you have to send them.

The deadline is usually at the end of July. They will send you the result at the end of August. 

There are three cases for the result of evaluation: 

  1. You can take the medical Japanese proficiency test 
  2. You need to take the preliminary board exam and training for one year. 
  3. You are not eligible to take the exams. 


If you’re asking what is the Preliminary board exam, it is the medical schools in which the duration of undergraduate is 5 years, not 6 years. It is an exam on academic (basic ) subjects, for example,

  • anatomy,  
  • physiology 
  • etc, 

The exam is held in Japan.

Step 4. Matching or arranging residency.  

At this stage, you have to arrange a training course. It might sound weird or strange, but you have to arrange the residency or training before you take the exams. 

If you fail the exams, you have to repeat the Matching again. There are four steps you have to follow to arrange the matching: 

1. Find the hospitals you are interested in. 

There are websites where you can find residency programs. You should compare hospitals in different items: 

  • Location 
  • Salary 
  • Number of beds 
  • Number of night shifts. 
  • Personal, 
  • Reputation. 
  • How big it is. 
  • Number of staff. 
  • Expereicne 
  • Rare disease 
  • Etc. 

You can find residency programs on these two websites, but there are other ones as well: 

2. Visit the hospitals you are interested in. 

You have to send an email and arrange a meeting before visiting them. They might let you experience bedside training during your visit or on another visit. It’s a chance to know if you like the hospital, its staff, and its atmosphere. 

3. Take interviews. 

You have to take an in-person or online interview with the hospital authorities. In some hospitals, you might have to take oral or written exams as well. 

4. Register at JRMP (Japan Residency Matching Program). 

You have to register the hospitals you take an interview with on their website. If the hospitals are interested in you, then you Match. If you do not match, you can go for the second or third round.

When the hospital approves you, they send you a notification through this platform and inform you.  

It’s not that difficult to Match, but if you choose the best and most competitive hospitals, it gets hard. There are pros and cons with each hospital, and you have to make the decision about which one is appropriate for you. Compare the hospitals by the items that are important to you. 

It’s important to know what you want in finding the hospital you want for yourself. 

There is no limit to the number of times you can take Mathicng. 

Step 5. Pass the Japanese medical proficiency test.   

After the Ministry of Health, Labor, and Welfare approve that you can take tests to become a doctor in Japan, you can take the Japanese medical proficiency test. 

The tets is held at teh end of Spetmebr. It usually takes place in Tokyo but asks the officials here can you take it. 

The test evaluates enter you can communicate with colleagues doctors and patients in Japanese. History taking and physical examination are part of the exam. It’s a pass/fail exam. You need %60 of the score to pass the test. 

During the history part, many doctors and mock patients are in front of you. You will receive instructions on how to do and what to do during the exam. You have to read a paper with the patient’s information written; 

  • Patient ID. 
  • Chief complains. 
  • Vital signs. 

You have to read the paper aloud so the examiner can check your pronunciation. Then you have to take history taking to the mock patient. You can ask about the history of

  • present illness, 
  • past medical history, 
  • allergies, 
  • medication, 
  • etc. 

Then you have to ask the examiner or the doctor if there are any physical findings of the patient, like abnormal 

  • Heart sounds. 
  • Lung sound 
  • Skin color 

Then you have to write a medical record about the patient.

Then comes the physical examination part.  You enter another room with a mock patient and a mock doctor who is the examiner as well. 

You will receive the instructions to complete them. You will read a paper with the patient’s details 

  • Patient’s ID. 
  • Chief Complaint. 
  • Vital signs 
  • History of present illness. 

You have to read the paper out loud so the examiner can check your pronunciation and fluency in Japanese. Then, you have to start a physical examination. It’s up to you what to do and how to examine the patient: 

  • Auscultation 
  • Palpitation 
  • Percussion 

There are instruments on a table you can use as well: 

  • Penlight 
  • Tongue depressor. 
  • Reflex hammer.
  • Etc. 

Then you have to write a medical report based on your findings. You should write a deferential diagnosis too. 

 Everything is recorded on the camera or CCTV. 

You should use plain Japanese when talking with the patient and medical Japanese when talking to the doctors or examiners. Your proficiency in Japanese is important to them. 

Only if you pass the medical proficiency test can you take the next step and take the Board Exam. 

Step 6. Pass the Japanese Board Exam. 

The application begins in November, and the exam takes place in February. Everyone who wants to become a doctor in Japan has to pass this exam. Whether the applicant is Japanese and completed his/her education in Japan or a foreign national studied abroad doesn’t matter. 

Applicants from abroad can apply and take this exam as well. But language proficiency is a must for foreign applicants, and you need at least an N1 level to become qualified. You have to pass the language test before you can take the Board Exam

This is a pass-fail exam and takes palace in two days. There are 400 questions to answer. The questions are divided into six blocks; blocks A, B, and C or e on the first day and blocks D, E, and F on the second day. 

The exam takes place in two days. It usually starts at 9.30 and continues to 18.30 pm. You can have breaks between the sections, but it’s a long and tedious process. You have to prepare yourself mentally and physically to take the exam. There is a wide range of subjects to cover. 

There are 400 questions in 25 sections, and the most important aspect is internal medicine. These sections make %40 of the exam. 

The other important sections of the exam are: 

  • Public health 
  • Pediatrics 
  • OBGYN.

The majority of the questions are multiple-choice questions, but there are some calculations as well. Questions can be classified into two types: 

Type 1 

These types of questions are simple, fact-based questions. Questions can ask:

  •  the cause of diseases. 
  • Symptoms. 
  • Treatments 
  • Pathomechanism. 
  • Lab findings 
  • Etc. 

Type 2 

You need to read clinical case scenarios. They usually start with age, gender, and chief complaint. Then it is followed by the condition of the patient in detail. You need to understand a paragraph, establish a diagnosis and choose the best management for the patient in Japanese. 

You have to meet 3 criteria to pass this exam; 

  1. The total score of blocks A, C, D, and F, ahs to over %70. These blocks are relative evaluations. 
  2. Total score of block B has to be over %80. 
  3. The number of contraindications has to be less than 3. 

The pass rate is different between those who have graduated from Japan and those who have graduated from abroad. 

You don’t have to provide the result of this exam in your job interview. You just have to pass and get a passing score. 

Step 7. Pass the junior residency program.  

You have to pass a training or residency program in Japan for two years. You have to pass the residency you have applied for before taking the exams. 

You can find more information about how to arrange the residency and what procedures you have to follow. 

Step 8. Apply for a work visa. 

After you complete your training, you have to apply for a Japan work visa. First, you have to look for a job offer.

You have to find a Japanese employer who is willing to hire you as a doctor. After you find the employer, he/she applies for a Certificate of Eligibility. When the certificate is issued, you can apply for a work visa at the Japanese embassy or consulate in your home country. 

You can read more about the Japan work visa from the menu of the Visa Library or watch the video we have prepared on our channel

Studying medicine at a Japanese university

There is another way to become a doctor in Japan, and it’s to study for a medical degree in one of the Japanese universities. You have to get admission to one of the universities that offer a medical course. You can find a list of universities that offer medical degrees in the below section. 

After you get admission to the university, you can apply for a Japan student visa. You can find more information about it from the menu of the Visa Library.

It takes you six years to complete your education and get your degree. You have to spend:

  • Two years on medical clerkship, 
  • Two years on applied medicine. 
  • Two years on general medical notions.

You should work on your Japanese language proficiency and fulfill the requirements. 

You should also look at the tuition and cost of living in this Japanese city. Figure out if you can afford it or not. You might have to pay up to 5 million yen for tuition per year. The living costs range from 150-200 thousand yen per month.

Japanese universities offer medical degrees. 

This is a list of some of the Japanese universities that offer medical degrees. You can visit their website and see what the requirements are. 

You should determine whether they require English or Japanese language proficiency and what supporting documents they require. 

  • University of Tokyo
  • Tohoku University
  • Kyushu University
  • Kyoto University
  • Osaka University
  • University of Tsukuba
  • Kobe University
  • Chiba University
  • Tokyo Medical and Dental University
  • Tokyo Medical University
  • Nihon University
  • Shiga University of Medical Science
  • Aichi Medical University

Japanese language proficiency test scale index 

The index that determines your fluency in Japanese fluency is N5-N1; while N5 is the easiest and first level you achieve, N1 is the hardest and last level you achieve. Here is a useful understanding of the levels and the index of fluency; 


You understand Japanese in a wide range of contexts, & the language of experts like doctors. 


You can understand Japanese in a wide range of fields to a certain level. 


You can read and understand written materials with specific contents concerning everyday topics. 


You can read and understand passages on familiar daily topics written in basic vocabulary. 


You can understand basic Japanese. 

How to prepare for the Japanese board examination?

It takes you at least one year to prepare for this exam. You have to cover and prepare 25 subjects. There are courses that you can take to prepare for the board examination, and the two of them are as follows: 

  • Med4.
  • Q-Assist. 

They are online courses that you can access from your home country. The price is friendly, and you can afford it. 

For the Type 1 questions, you have to work on your memorization. But for the Type 2 questions, clinical scenarios, readings skill, and judgment is essential. So you need to understand the paragraph in Type 2 questions. You should also take mock exams. There are two companies that provide mock exams for board examination: 

  • MEC, three mock exams per year. 
  • TECOM, for mock exams per year. 

Both companies provide you with a detailed analysis of your exam. So you can know what is your weakness and work to improve them to pass the exam. 

How much does It cost to study medicine in Japan?

How much you have to spend to get a medical degree in Japan is up to several factors. If you have studied in a foreign country and want to pass the exams and get a license is different than studying in Japan. 

When you go through the steps we explained in the above section; you can estimate the amount you have to spend to get your degree. There are exam registration costs, getting to the exams, and achieving a language proficiency certificate. 

If you want to study medicine in Japan, the tuition can go up to 1,100,000 yen at the undergraduate university level. There are also living costs that can range from 100.000-200.000 Yen. 

Best cities to work as a doctor in Japan 

Choosing the best city to work as a doctor Jn japan is up to several factors and you. Bear in mind that you have to get a two-year residency or training in a hospital in Japan. So before picking the city to work in, you should choose the hospital to spend your training in.

When you want to pick the hospital, consider these items: 

  • Location 
  • Size 
  • Staff 
  • Salary 
  • Fame 
  • City’s population. 
  • Cost of living 
  • Climate 
  • Entrance rules.  
  • How competitive it is. 
  • Is it hard to enter the university or not? 

When you find the hospital to complete your training with, consider the city and evaluate its conditions. Bear in mind that getting a residency from a Japanese hospital is hard, and you do not have many options as it’s highly competitive. 

These are the largest cities in Japan. You might find more hospitals in them, but the cost of living could be higher; 

  1. Tokyo
  2. Yokohama
  3. Osaka
  4. Nagoya
  5. Sapporo
  6. Kobe
  7. Fukuoka
  8. Kyoto
  9. Kawasaki
  10. Saitama
Infographic How to immigrate to Japan as a doctor

Can foreign doctors work in Japan?

Yes. Foreign doctors can work in Japan But they have to send their medical degrees to Japanese officials. They evaluate the documents and decide whether foreign doctors are qualified to work in Japan or not. 

If the government officials accept the documents, doctors have to get a Japanese language proficiency certificate and pass the tests and exams. They also have to pass a two-year residency program. 

Is Japan a good option for doctors? 

The answer depends on you and your preferences. Japan is one of the safest countries in the world and it has the third biggest economy in the world. 

The country is advancing and improving in every field and has become a leading country in many fields. In terms of medicine, it’s one of the best in the world, and doctors are needed. The job market is good for skilled doctors as well. 

All in all, yes, Japan is a good country for doctors. 

Do doctors speak English in Japan?

Yes, most of them have a basic understanding of English but if you want to immigrate to Japan as a doctor, you have to become fluent in Japanese. 

Living in Japan as a doctor benefits 

You have searched and entered this page. So you know that Japan is a good option to immigrate as a doctor. But these benefits ensure that you have made the right choice; 

  • Transportation is efficient.
  • There is a lot to explore. 
  • Asia is one flight away. 
  • High salary 
  • Doctors are in-demand. 
  • Job market is great. 
  • High quality of education. 

Let’s sum up…

Foreign doctors can move to japan and become licensed doctors there. You found out the steps you have to follow to immigrate to Japan as a doctor. Also, you got answers to your questions and every stage is explained in detail. 

If you have questions, write them down in the comment section. The Visa Library team will answer them. 

You can find more information about Japan visa types from the menu of Visa Library. 

Frequently asked questions about immigration to Japan a doctor

Can I work in Japan as a foreign doctor? 

Yes, but you have to pass the stages explained in this article. Doctors who are from the U.S., the U.K., France, and Singapore can practice in Japan without a Japanese medical license. But their country must have an agreement with Japan and these doctors can only see a patient from their home country, not foreign ones or Japanese patients. 

Is Japan a good option for doctors?

Doctors are well paid, they are in demand and Japan is the third largest economy in the world. So you can say yes. 

Can I practice medicine in Japan as a doctor?

If your country has an agreement with Japan, you can see patients from your home country in Japan but not people from other countries or Japanese patients.

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