Omran (1971) explained the three stages of epidemiological transition starting from 1) the era of pestilence and famine to 3) the degenerative and man-made diseases via 2) the era of receding pandemics. Studies on demographic and health transition after Omran focused mainly on 1) acute infectious diseases in the era of high mortality and high fertility and on 3) non-communicable diseases (NCDs) in the era of low mortality and low fertility, while largely ignoring 2) the social hygiene and health problems during the era of receding pandemics in the midst of transition. The germ theory of Pasteur and Koch provided the scientific basis for study and control of infectious diseases. The modern risk factor epidemiology provides the scientific basis for study and control of NCDs. Then, what is the scientific basis for health problems during the demographic and health transition? In this paper the author discusses the set of genetics, racial hygiene/eugenics, euthenics and social Darwinism as the basis for study and control of variety of social hygiene problems during the era of receding pandemics. Today and in the near future of the highly aged society of post demographic and health transition with longevity, a rigorous scientific basis to support the new era is required.
The concept of the quality of population historically meant both genetic quality (inborn characteristics) and non-genetic quality (acquired characteristics). From a historical point of view, increasing attention to the quality of population was fundamentally linked to the eugenic-euthenic ideas that were popular in the late 19th and early 20th century Japan as well as internationally.
From the late 1910s to the 1920s, the eugenic-euthenic principle, which was accepted by many scholars and public officers, highlighted issues surrounding the ‘quality’ of population and had a great impact on policy debates of the time. The situation produced a health view that we should be healthy both physically and mentally for the good of society. In this paper, I show the ideological background for the foundation of the Japanese Society of Health and Human Ecology in 1930.
This article examines the past involvement of the Japanese Society of Health and Human Ecology (formerly: Japanese Society of Race Hygiene) in eugenics laws, written at the request of the society.
Section I describes the position of the Japanese Society of Race Hygiene, established in 1930, in the history of eugenics.
Section II discusses some problem in the understanding of the historical facts in the Board of Directors report: “The Japanese Society of Race Hygiene and ‘the National Eugenic Law,’” and the resulting media coverage. This chapter also discusses the change of the characteristics of the society around 1938 and its involvement in eugenics. Moreover, this chapter shows the inappropriateness of the interpretation that the 1948 Eugenic Protection Law was a continuation of the 1940 National Eugenic Law, which itself was modeled on a 1933 Nazi eugenics law.
Section III describes that the Japanese Society of Race Hygiene continued to have interest in eugenics even in the postwar era, and that in 1970s the society tried vehemently to eliminate any remnants of Nazi eugenic policies from the notion of “race hygiene”, at a time when there was a general assumption that eugenics as synonymous with the evil of Nazism. In conclusion, it is found that the society from that time to this day made passive attempts to erase and walk away from eugenics’ past.
We overviewed a series of studies on life tables and infant mortality in pre-WWII Korea under imperial Japan conducted by Haruo Mizushima, who have studied life tables as a professor of hygiene at Keijo Imperial University.
Mizushima et al. recognized that there was a problem with the accuracy of infant mortality in Koreans from the perspective of multifaceted demographic issues, also recognized of the “new vital statistics” in Korea after 1938 (Showa 13). However, he had still doubted the accuracy of infant mortality in Koreans as a demographic expert.
In addition, the results of their research were shared by demographic experts even after World War II, and new estimates and research were made based on them.
Aim: I investigated materials related to this case that were held in the U.S., and I explored reconsidering the case as a bioethical issue. Methods: For a 2012 Scientific Research Project (Theme: Research on Historical Documents at Kyushu University School of Medicine (Theme No.23650563) ), I conducted an overseas investigation of the Kyushu University Vivisection Case in December 2014 after completing a preliminary study in Japan. Results: On 25 December 2014, in the abovementioned U.S archives, I discovered unpublished materials written by Fukujiro Ishiyama,“Professor” in the First Department of Surgery of Kyushu Imperial University. These materials have since been published in a textbook and utilized for bioethics education. Conclusion: The Great Fukuoka Air Raid occurred in 1945, at the end of the Pacific War. Eight POWs who had been on board a U.S. Army B-29 bomber were subjected to “experimental surgeries” under the Japanese Western District Army at the Department of Anatomy of the Kyushu University School of Medicine. This resulted in the deaths of all the POWs in the so-called “Kyushu University Vivisection Case.” For a long time, the university has regarded this case as negative history and as taboo. The incident seemed to have been planned by Dr. H. Komori, an army physician, who held the key to the case and is said to have committed “a horrible and inhumane act.” The discovery of the new materials, however, has made the case a bioethics issue that involves the Code of Conduct for Medical Professionals. Significantly, the discovery has presented an opportunity for the issue to be reconsidered from an interdisciplinary perspective.
The population policies in post-war Japan are argued dividing the period into four. The first period from 1945 to 1959 was the period of so-called over-population when the policies were implemented based on the legislation of Eugenic Protection Law where abortions were legally permitted and favored over contraception to protect the mothers’ health and eugenics, which is based on the idea of counter-selection. The second period from 1960 to 1971 was the period in which the policy of population quality was implemented when the birth rate was thought to be low enough. The third period was the one from 1972 to 1976 when the over-population was argued again and the movement to restrict population growth was promoted while the IUD was officially permitted. The fourth period is from 1977 to the present when the pronatalist policy has been advocated according to the decline of fertility under the replacement level. The development of the implementation of the policy can be articulated into three steps; first: the recognition of the main cause of the fertility decline as the decline of marriage rate, second: the recognition of the cause of the decline of marriage rate as the unfavorable economic situation of younger generation, third: the implementation of policies to attenuate the economic situation of the generation. These steps were gradually taken though the third step has just begun in the 21st century and yet to be virtually effective.
”Demographic transition” is one of the most important concepts in understanding the modern history of population and health. The modernization of nations progressed as a drastic demographic shift occurred from a regime of high fertility and high mortality to that of low fertility and low mortality. Considering the long-term demographic changes, the paper presents a brief history of population thought from Malthusian theory at the end of the 18th century to the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) of the early 21st century. Malthus’ theory of population implied that living things have a prolific nature, although this idea was considered dangerous and not clearly stated at the time. It promoted the emergence of birth control movements and enabled Darwin to complete and publish his theory of evolution. Malthus, who pioneered the modern era, emphasized the contrast between population growth and food shortage. We, standing at the demise of the modern era, face new challenges, such as global resource constraints and environmental concerns, population aging to an unprecedented degree, coexistence of populations with still high and very low fertility, and new tides of international migration. The SDGs do not explicitly mention population trends, but the majority of the goals are substantially related to population and health.