Study group on the movement by the ill/disabled regarding illnesses/disabilities

Minamata disease patients and people with Hansen's disease have had to face discrimination for many years. The movement striving to eradicate the discrimination and to make the society accept them as they are is still very much active, but no discussion of the “treatment of the illness” level has been made. It is the doctors and other medical workers who shoulder the tasks related to medical treatment of the various illnesses, but often the patients themselves voice objections regarding the ways they are treated.
There are some common points among such objections by the objects of medical treatment and people with mental disorders. In the case of mental disorders as well as of Minamata disease or Hansen's disease, it is difficult to root out the disease completely, and even if a patient achieves a remission with the symptoms abated for the time being, he or she cannot get back all those years or decades spent away from society to cure herself. The situation being such, many people with such diseases choose to live as handicapped instead. And we feel that disability studies have not yet properly addressed the problems faced by such people.
On the one hand, such people are patients/sick. On the other, they are regarded as handicapped targeted for care by the welfare system. The institutional system providing care in their case always involves a distinction stating that medical institutions are responsible for treatment of the disease, while welfare is to provide their life support. But how do the people themselves see this distinction between the “illness” and the “disability”? The aim of this study group is to address the issue of the two states, namely, of a chronic disease and of a disability, two states that are both very close to each other for each individual body, but differ in terms of institutional support. We attempt to research and compare the histories of movement by and the aid offered to Minamata disease patients, people with Hansen's disease and the mentally handicapped, striving to find ways to envisage this distinction.
The purpose of this research is to find out how the people with these diseases themselves view the distinction between an “illness” and a “disability”, and how their views are influenced by changes in the society surrounding them.

Name of Project Study group on the movement by the ill/disabled regarding illnesses/disabilities
Research subject Points of dispute regarding illnesses/disabilities and welfare: focusing on the movement by people with Minamata disease, Hansen's disease, and mental disorders
Project representative TATEIWA Shin'ya
Term 2012