Japan backs Nihon Trim to build Chinese hospitals

Japanese institutions are mulling contributions to a vehicle set up by the firm as they seek to tap growing demand for private healthcare in China.

Nihon Trim, an Osaka-based medical equipment maker, has formed a joint venture with an unnamed Chinese consulting firm to build a chain of hospitals in China with backing from the Japanese government. 

According to a statement by Nihon Trim, the $3 million venture, dubbed Han Kun International Holdings, will look to promote Japanese medical exports and cater to the growing need of patients suffering from urban diseases like diabetes in China. 

The Japanese company holds a 40 percent stake in the business. 

Financial institutions backed by the Japanese government could provide financing. According to a Nikkei Asian Review report, Mitsubishi Corporation and other major companies are considering contributing to the venture. 

The Hong Kong-based venture aims to build 10 hospitals in the next five to seven years. The first facility, budgeted at JPY1.6 billion ($14 million; €12.7 million), is expected to commence operations in Beijing early next year and will handle general treatment as well. 

With a prime focus on treating diabetes, the 10 hospitals are expected to bring in annual sales of JPY50 billion with a majority of clients coming from China’s rising middle class. 

The facilities will employ Japanese doctors and nurses to provide training and guidance. Medical Excellence Japan, a public-private partnership to support the globalisation of Japan’s medical services, and the government’s Headquarters for Healthcare Policy will talk with hospitals throughout Japan about sending staff, the Nikkei report said. 

In 2014, China passed reforms aimed at opening up its healthcare market to foreign investors and bringing in international-standard services. A McKinsey report highlighted the healthcare sector in China as “one of the world’s most attractive markets” with expenditures projected to grow from $357 billion in 2011 to $1 trillion in 2020. 

Estimates state that more than 140 million Chinese suffer from diabetes and another 240 million have prediabetes, Nihon Trim said in the statement.