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Thursday, Aug. 8, 2002

LIFELINES

Looking after your mental and physical well-being in Japan


"Several weeks ago you published information about English-speaking doctors and wrote that you would be glad to receive information on others," writes Mary in Tokyo.

"My son, Joe Kurosu M.D., practices in Nagoya. Joe graduated from the American School in Japan, Stanford University and Yale Medical School. He practices internal medicine and pain management in Nagoya. He is also fluent in Japanese and passed the Japanese Medical License test several years ago, so is fully licensed to practice in Japan.

"Also Ken, you probably do not remember this but you used to live in our neighborhood in Eifuku Cho when you and your brothers were small. I remember visiting with my sons, Ken and Joe. It seems like just a while ago."

Well Mary, of course I remember your family, and Ken and Joe. And it definitely was "a while ago." We used to play together with your kids, and I have often wondered where you all are now. It's wonderful to hear from you. Thank you for sending Joe's information along. There are not many English doctors in Nagoya.

Joe Kurosu is at 052-831-9762 in Nagoya or E-mail: gasman@estate.ocn.ne.jp. If you need an English-trained, and really trained, doctor in Nagoya, give Joe a call and tell him "Kimbo from Eifuku Cho" told you to call.

For those in Tokyo, another truly nice person is Dr. Fred Shane. Dr. Shane came to Japan in 1951 -- the same year as my Dad, and has been here ever since. He is one of the very few people who have taken the Japanese Medical Certification in Japanese and passed. Going to see Dr. Shane for some ailment is simply an excuse to catch a bit of his smile and hear a story of old Japan -- any medical attention is purely on the side. You can call Dr. Shane at his new clinic, right near Akabanebashi Station on the Oedo Line, at 03-5549-9983 or E-mail: atfishanemd.@aol.com

"Thank you for your piece on insurance," writes Kirk in Azabu. "I think it might be good to tell your readers that most insurance is sold through independent agents who are registered with particular insurance companies. For AIG, I recommend Katsuyaga Nagata, of Nagata Associated. His number is 03-5275-0828.

"Also, life and general insurance are different from health insurance. My understanding is that full-time employees in Japan are required to join one of the government health programs, but self-employed individuals and part-time employees have the option of joining a nongovernment plan. On the whole issue of health insurance, pension plans, offshore payment of compensation, one should probably talk to a good financial/tax adviser. Price Waterhouse Coopers has a strong presence in Japan. The person I have dealt with is Mark Tirpack at mark.tirpak@jp.pwcglobal.com.

Thanks Kirk for helping us on this. We've checked it out and you're dead right. Working in a large company, generally National Health Insurance is automatic. If you are self-employed, working part-time or in a small company you can usually have the option of choosing your own.

Another good agent that has dealt with the international community for years is Star Insurance. Talk to Mr. Mine at 048-479-2317.

"Someone passed a copy of your Lifelines column on to me recently," says Jim, in Tokyo. "And I thought it might be good to point out the difference between a psychiatrist and a psychologist.

"A psychiatrist is a medical doctor who specializes in diseases of the mind and how to treat them. In Japan, as well as elsewhere, that usually means using medication only. A psychologist cannot prescribe medicine, but instead uses talk therapy, both short and long term, to diagnose and treat people's mental and emotional problems, and is competent to review whether a person needs medication."

Thank you for clarifying the difference Jim. In addition IMHPJ, or International Mental Health Professionals Japan is a good source to get the most current information on mental health in Japan. You can check them out at: www.IMHPJ.com

For an English-speaking accountant and general financial consultant talk to Mr. Tohru Takihi at Takihi and Company, on 03-3351-8580, or E-mail: toru.takihi@jp.pwcglobal.com

There's a wonderful new E-mail service from the U.S. Embassy. To sign up, E-mail Peter at: VanburenPM@state.gov, or check out: www.usembassy.state.gov/tokyo

Looking for a fellowship in Tokyo? The Church of the East at: www.thechurchoftheast.com is looking for musicians and members.

For a handyman that can do just about anything, or to find someone that can, from fixing your house to going shopping, call the benriyasan at 090-1506-8921 or E-mail: atbenriyasan@hotmail.com

Ken Joseph Jr. is director of The Japan Helpline ( www.jhelp.com )


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