In Japan, as in most modern, industrial societies, medical care has become highly politicized. Doctors and patients are part of a network of relationships which include politicians, bureaucrats, and leaders of organized interest groups. The politicization of medical care is reflected in the objectives and activities of the Japan Medical Association which claims to represent the medical profession. Roughly seventy-five percent of Japanese doctors are members of the JMA. Even though it is organized along democratic lines, the national leadership under President Takemi Taro exercises considerable control over the affairs of the Association. JMA leaders accept the fact of extensive governmental involvement in medical care and die principle of compulsory, national health insurance. However, they strongly oppose the present system of health insurance and demand fundamental revision which would lead to a single, unified, community based system. They insist that such a system would be best for both doctors and patients. While the organization and activities of the JMA have a peculiar Japanese flavor, students of western politics will find much that is familiar and characteristic of associational interest groups in general.

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