The nurse shortage problem in Japan

Nurs Ethics. 1997 May;4(3):245-52. doi: 10.1177/096973309700400309.


This article discusses the serious problem of the shortage of about 50,000 nurses in Japan today. If efficient measures to solve it are not adopted by administrators, it is clear that the shortage will become still more alarming in the future, in a society with more people in advanced years and in which the numbers in the younger generation will decrease from now on. The main factors behind the Japanese nursing labour shortage are, among others: a rapid increase in the number of hospital beds between 1986 and 1989, poor working conditions; and nurses' low social position in their places of work. Behind these factors, there has always been a contempt for the art of nursing in our society. Why has Japanese society made light of nursing? Three points can be identified: traditional discrimination against women; our disregard for a religious mentality; and our short history of hospital nursing. To overcome these problems, we must first of all change fundamentally our sense of values, such as love for one another and compassion. We must now reconstruct a caring culture in our society.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Cultural Characteristics
  • Empathy
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Japan
  • Nurses / supply & distribution*
  • Prejudice
  • Social Class
  • Social Values
  • Women's Rights