The Annual Review of Sociology
Online ISSN : 1884-0086
Print ISSN : 0919-4363
ISSN-L : 0919-4363
The Socioeconomic Background to the Enactment of “Absolute Isolation” Policy Toward Leprosy Patients in Japan
Based on Statistics from the Pre-war Period
Motoyuki Goto
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2011 Volume 2011 Issue 24 Pages 97-108


In 1931, Japanese government enacted the “absolute isolation” policy with respect to leprosy patients to prevent the spread of the disease. However, judged from a medical point of view, compared with the tuberculosis which is a serious infectious disease, the risk of leprosy as contagion was very low.
This leads to the question of why, despite the very limited infectiousness, what made extreme isolation policy possible only in the case of leprosy? Previous studies detailed the political process of enactment of the law but did not deal with this simple question.
In this paper, I attempt to demonstrate the socioeconomic background of the policy especially in the view of social patterns of occurrence of leprosy and patient's accessibility to medical care by using the primary statistics from the pre-war period.

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© 2011 The Kantoh Sociological Society
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