The Japanese Society for the History of Medicine has a history of 90 years. In its early years it began as assembly of physicians researching the history of medicine and honoring prominent doctors of the past. Thanks to the efforts of its pioneering members it opened the study of medical history and today it brings together a variety of people engaged in a wide range of research regarding medical history. The study of the field of medical history now encompasses not only historical research on the various medical professions in modern medicine but also studies of traditional forms of Japanese medicine such as "kampo igaku" and the practice of medicine to treat diseases and the connections to society and culture. At its regular annual conferences and monthly meetings presentations are given by medical historians on a wide range of topics. The Society’s journal, the "Journal of the Japanese Society for the History of Medicine", with its high standard articles, conveys the appeal of the study of medical history.
I have been involved in research in anatomy and education for many years at university medical schools. I began by gathering original anatomical writings relating to medical history from the past to the present, and on the basis of this study I published "A History on Science of the Human Body" (Iwanami Shoten, 2008). Recently in researching the development of Western medicine I have been studying Western medical documents, especially those from the pre-18th centuries. In this research I have been investigating the motivating factors behind the medical transformations in the early 19th century and the reforming developments thereafter, not only from the viewpoint of the prominent medical philosophies and epoch-making events, but also from that of continual scientific activities verifying and accumulating actual knowledge on the human body and diseases, step by step. From studying past and present medical history documents I have also come to understand how evaluations of historical events and images of history have been greatly influenced by the ways of thinking of individual medical historians and the backgrounds of their times.
In the 21st century the study of medicine and medical practice is taking on increasing importance to society. Thanks to the development of medical science and health care the accuracy of diagnoses and the effectiveness of treatments have dramatically improved and the realization of the magnificent benefits of medicine has become increasingly apparent, and with this the expectations and trust placed by society on medicine have increased greatly. In recent years the pace of the progress of medical science and treatment has been rapidly accelerating and, along with the conditions of internationalization and the availability of information, the scale of medicine has greatly expanded and become global. In this new age the Japanese Society for the History of Medicine welcomes all people and viewpoints in studying the history of medicine based on the investigation of historical facts and it looks forward to new developments in the study of medical history.
June 30, 2017
12th Chairman, Board of Directors