Current Institutional Affiliation
ABD, History, University of California / Berkeley

Award Information

The Role of Christian Evangelism in Combating Taisho Japan's Tuberculosis Epidemic

From the 1890s until the 1940s, Christians in Japan led a small, committed movement for the care of Japan’s tubercular in the face of government disregard. Christian missionaries worked to obviate stereotypes and to build understanding of the illness through redemptive belief. Under the auspices of such organizations as the Salvation Army, both foreign and Japanese Christians aided the tubercular in private missions and hospitals. I maintain that government disregard of the epidemic stemmed in part from political maneuvering, which utilized evangelical organizations for their social and public welfare programs, reaping the rewards of the charitable Christian ethic, with little financial expenditure or political compromise. Similarly, evangelists saw the public health lacunae as a bargaining chip with which to relate to a government wary of Christianity. Moreover, the relationship and competition between evangelists proved complicated, as some groups viewed their work with tuberculosis as medical, others as purely spiritual.