Japanese Society of Cinematographers focus on health

By Akira Sako JSC

High blood pressure is common in Japan. It is estimated that more than 43 million Japanese of a total population of 127 million inhabitants suffer from high blood pressure.
The problem is that Japanese cinematographers and film workers work long days, and many feel they do have not time to take time to visit a doctor for a check-up.
Cost is also a factor, as medical check-ups in Japan are not free.

People who are full time employees get a free yearly medical check-up which is mandatory, but free lancers most often do not have this possibility.
Smoking is more common in Japan than elsewhere, there are twice as many smokers in Japan as in the USA for example, and the number of smokers are also high in the Japanese film industry, and this, combined with long days and stress is a risk factor. Japanese eats more fish than most other Countries, and actual hearth attacks are lower than the World average in Japan, but other serious health issues follow high blood pressure.

Toshinori Hirabayashi
1st AC Toshinori Hirabayashi behind the camera on the film “Ajin” Photo: Akira Sako JSC

 This Spring, the 1st AC Toshinori Hirabayashi got a subarachnoid hemorrhage while on set, and the JSC is now looking into how changes can be made to better secure Japanese film workers health. 

At the Japanese Society of Cinematographers, Akira Sako JSC, Yoshiko Osawa JSC, Tadashi Kuwahara JSC and Shigenori Miki JSC, are recommending mandatory blood pressure meters on film sets, rental houses and post production facilities, and they recommend their members to be aware of symptoms.


Some Japanese studios, like the Toei Oizumi Studios, has already implemented compulsory yearly health check-ups of all their staff, fully employed and also for free-lance short term employees, and more is planned.


The JSC also focus on the food that is served on set, and several Studios have now hired nutritionists who overlook the studio café menus, serving more vegetable and fish, with less salt, and posting articles on the wall in the cafeterias on the subject.


The Japanese Society is also running a campaign asking their members to be aware and to report when they experience dangerous working conditions with risk of injury or accidents.


This initiative from the JSC is warmly welcomed by IMAGO. Cinematographers and film colleague´s health and working conditions will be focused on internationally in the years to come.