Japan to help developing nations attain universal health coverage

Finance Minister Taro Aso pledged Friday that Japan will play a key role in helping developing countries to attain universal health coverage, ensuring that all people have access to basic medical services without financial hardship.

"Establishment of universal health coverage in Japan has become a platform for economic growth" as it has respected human dignity and contributed to eradicating poverty, Aso said at a joint press conference with World Bank President Jim Yong Kim in Tokyo.

They met with reporters after attending the "Global Conference on Universal Health Coverage for Inclusive and Sustainable Growth," co-hosted by the Japanese government and the World Bank to study health policies.

"If economies in emerging and developing nations grow in a stable manner (on the back of a universal healthcare system)...it would help Japan attract investment from those countries, which would greatly contribute to the Japanese economy," Aso added.

"Japan has accumulated a great deal of knowledge and expertise" in universal health coverage, Kim said, expressing hope that the nation's experience will be utilized by developing countries eager to enhance their medical care system.

He added the Work Bank hopes to reduce by 2020 the number of people who are impoverished due to out-of-pocket heath care expenses and bring it to zero by 2030.

Kim also emphasized that the World Bank and Japan will work closely to promote disaster risk management, citing the recent devastation in the Philippines.

"The World Bank Group looks forward to continuing our close partnership with Japan. We will draw upon Japan's vast knowledge and expertise in universal health care and disaster risk management," Kim said.

Later in the day, Kim also met Prime Minister Shinzo Abe.