This article presents a critique of the health promotion policy of Japan, which is based on an examination of the social importance of and justification for health promotion. This is done to suggest the proper direction that the future Japanese policy could take, and to question the adequacy of the term of ‘health promotion’. We find the ‘social progress’ characterization of the ‘Second Term of National Health Promotion Movement in the Twenty-First Century - Health Japan 21 ’ to be problematic. While there are clear restraints found in terms of social costs related to the policy, the aims toward social justice provided by the policy are not clear. Considering the social importance and justification of health promotion, and the present conditions seen in Japan, we believe that it is necessary clearly to position health promotion as a form of social justice. Having said this, the term ‘health promotion’ is in itself misleading and can belie the range of activities required to action these policies. Therefore, we propose considering the selection of a different and more appropriate term for health promotion that concretely defines policies that actively work toward definitive health equity.