Hansen's disease recoverers as agents of change: a case study in Japan.Lepr Rev 2010; 81(1):5-16LR
This manuscript addresses the role and contribution of people affected by Hansen's 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 1950's. 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.