Speech for New York Times
Speech manuscript for the Award of the New York times the New Era Leaders.
Good afternoon, everyone. It is a great honor to be here today. Receiving the New Era Leaders Award was something I never imagined would happen. Thank you.
Allow me to share a short story.
In 2003, I worked as a guest researcher at Louisiana State University and stayed there for two years with my wife and my daughter. My daughter had to be vaccinated before enrolling in grade school.
We showed the doctors her vaccination records. However, they were written in Japanese, so the doctors could not read her records.
We were told she had to get 5 vaccinations in one clinic visit regardless of what she already had. I tried to protest, but was unsuccessful due to the language barrier. As a parent, I felt powerless. Another time, I was misdiagnosed as having tuberculosis. Again, like my daughter, I was already vaccinated for tuberculosis as an infant. The doctor was telling me I was in a life-threatening situation. I again, felt powerless.
After returning to Japan, I realized, through my experiences, that many foreign residents in Japan may struggle with similar misunderstandings.
When I opened my own clinic, I wanted it to be foreigner-friendly.
I decided to make the best effort to accept patients from abroad with hospitality.
Things did not go smoothly at first. The staff members were uncertain this idea would work.
After I told them about my difficult experiences in the US, they gradually came to understand my idea.
Since our patients are from many different countries, we had to take a multi-lingual approach.
We decided to take the following measures:
1. We ask foreign patients to point to the most applicable national flag on a list to identify their language. When the language is identified, the staff will then use a translation device to hold a conversation and ask patients to fill in one of our 50 multilingual medical interview sheets.
2. We made a multi-language webpage of our clinic in six languages.
Our webpage explains the many different kinds of medical treatment we offer, the wide variety of medicine we use, the vaccinations, and the health checkup details at our clinic.
3. We introduced English lessons specializing in clinical nursing, medical consultation, and treatment explanations by a native speaker.
As a result, we have 10 regular foreign patients and 20 to 30 unique foreign patients who come to our clinic every month. A clinic like ours is rare in Japan, quite possibly the only one.
I greatly appreciate the support of my staff members at my clinic, my wife Kaori, our native English instructor Matt, media strategist Mr. Komine, and the local residents who come and support our clinic. Without everyone’s cooperation, I would not have been able to realize my idea.
I hope I can continue to live up to your expectations and contribute to the care of foreign residents in Japan.