AAS Annual Meeting

Interarea/Border-Crossing Session 437

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Session 437: Health I

Japanese Elderly seeking Independence – Transitions in Families with Elderly Parents and Adult Children in Japan
Soon-May Lum, Waseda University, Japan

The current generations of Japanese elderly parents who are sixty years and older have witnessed or experienced forms of the traditional family (ie) system. The older generations of those who are in their seventies and eighties have experienced a major war and the younger generation of those in their sixties is the forerunner in the move towards gender equality. These generations of elderly have also lived through the economic boom periods of Japan. How do these elderly parents craft a lifestyle for themselves and their children that is different from what they have experienced themselves as adult children of their parents? This paper examines how the current generations of elderly parents seek independence, not just for themselves but also for their adult children. Many strive to maintain their physical and mental health by remaining active. They also have frequent interactions with their social networks. Analysis is made from both a gender perspective and a life-course perspective. At the same time, this paper also examines the perspective of adult children on their parents’ aging, expectations of their own roles as their parents age, and the perceived expectations of their parents on them. The different perspectives of parent and child are put together to give insight into transitions happening in families in contemporary Japan. This paper is based on qualitative research for my doctoral dissertation. A total of 26 in-depth interviews were conducted in the greater Tokyo metropolitan region between 2009 and 2010.

E-Health in Japan
Jorg C. Mahlich, Independent Scholar, Austria

In the course of demographic change in Japan, health care expenditures are on the rise. Within the last 15 years health care expenditure as a percentage of the GDP increased from 6% to more than 8% whereas more than half of the health expenditures are for persons over 65 years old. In order to both control costs and improve health care efficiency E-health has become a growing issue in Japanese health policy. Japanese government heavily promotes technological innovation that eventually will facilitate medical and home care. Examples include the home care robot Ri-man that was developed by the Riken research lab and has the potential to replace human caregivers. Based on expert interviews, this paper tries to give an overview of e-health initiatives in Japan and discusses its social and economic implications. Health economic evaluations on selected Japanese e-health programs are also analyzed.

Reviving Tradition?: East Asian Medicine in Korea and Japan during the 20th century
Maki Umemura, Cardiff University, United Kingdom

This paper examines the evolution of traditional medicines in Japan and Korea since the late 19th century. In both countries, localized versions of traditional Chinese medicine had been their mainstream medicine for over a millennium. Following a rapid program of Westernization and modernization, Japanese and Korean medicines were replaced by Western style medicine by the early 20th century. But the type of traditional medicines used in these countries for centuries continued to be consumed. In fact, traditional medicine in Japan and Korea revived in the decades after World War II. The resurgence of these traditional medicines was due to a combination of factors, including the realization of limitations to Western medicines following drug tragedies such as the thalidomide; the development of technologies to mass produce standardized versions of traditional medicines; and the governments’ decisions to incorporate traditional medicines under national health insurance schemes. This paper aims to provide a multifactorial explanation for the fall and rise of traditional medicines in Japan and Korea over the 20th century. While few scholars have examined the history of traditional medicine in Japan or Korea, it is an important topic that addresses current debates in global history. This study, for example, illustrates how a particular product – medicines – change when transferred from one location (China) to another (Japan/Korea): how it is endogenized after it is stripped of its original social, political, and cultural environment; how a given product “modernizes” over time; and who are the key agents of change.

Innovation or Stagnation? Assessing contrasting approaches to new medical knowledge in 19th century Japan.
Ann Jannetta, University of Pittsburgh, USA

Japan’s emergence from national isolation in the 19th century took place against the background of an accelerating global transformation in scientific and medical knowledge. This new knowledge became an important catalyst for change in Japan: it attracted adherents and generated innovative approaches among Japan’s intellectuals – especially physicians, astronomers, botanists, and cartographers. Among these adherents, Japanese physicians were the most numerous and the most active. This paper examines two different approaches to innovation within the community of Japanese physicians: the lineage approach of Hanaoka Seishu (1760-1835), recognized as the world’s first successful anesthesiologist; and the network approach of Mitsukuri Genpo (1799-1863), a medical writer, translator and editor. Which of these two innovative approaches led to further knowledge and innovation. And why? The answers to these questions provide additional insight into the reasons for Japan’s rapid transformation to modernity. The paper will draw upon the literary production of Seishu and Genpo, including images from Hanaoka Seishu’s Casebook, featured on the website of the National Library of Medicine [NLM].