Doctor shortage may cripple anti-addiction policies

Dr. Ichiro Sora of the Department of Psychiatry at Kobe University Graduate School of Medicine pointed out at a public lecture in Osaka on Friday that a major unaddressed problem is that Japan simply does not have many medical professionals who can treat patients afflicted by gambling addiction.

“Unfortunately, there are not many professionally experienced doctors and medical staff,” he observed.

“The medical community has low awareness about the behavioral aspects of gambling addiction,” he continued, “Training medical staff is an urgent need.”

In April, the Abe Cabinet endorsed new measures to combat gambling addiction in accordance with its mandate under the Basic Law on Gambling Addiction Countermeasures, passed by the Diet in July 2018, but the specific anti-addiction policies remain vague, voluntary, and unfunded.

The government currently points to scientifically-unproven measures such as removing ATMs from gambling venues, casino visitation limits, and high fees for entering casino as main pillars of its anti-addiction policies.

A shortage of medical care staff is a widespread phenomenon in Japan that goes far beyond the lack of addiction-related doctors.