British Leprosy Relief Association
Hansen’s disease recoverers as agents of change: a case study in Japan
aHarvard School of Public Health, Department of Global Health and Population, Boston, MA, USA
Correspondence to: Miwako Hosoda Ph.D (Sociology), , Department of Global Health and Population, Harvard School of Public Health, 665 Huntington Avenue, Building 1, Room 1210, Boston, MA 02115, USA (e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org)
This manuscript addresses the role and contribution of people affected by Hansens disease (leprosy), especially through the efforts of Zen-Ryo-Kyo, the National Hansen’s Disease Sanatoria Residents’ Association, in changing laws and attitudes in Japan since the 1950s. Health social movements are discussed in the Japanese context and more broadly. An important contribution of this manuscript is the explanatory description of the activities of Zen-Ryo-Kyo in achieving change through addressing issues related to social stigma and discrimination. The argument is made for expanding the scope of social movements to include all stigmatised illnesses and disabilities. Another significant point discussed is the need to move beyond defining Hansen’s disease in medical and legal terms, and to redefine it as a public health and social issue to be solved.