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Hansen’s Disease in Japan: The Lingering Legacy of Discrimination

Twenty years have passed since the repeal of the law mandating isolation of Hansen’s Disease (leprosy) patients in Japan. The government has recognized the injustice of the isolation policy and has moved to compensate the victims, but many former patients and family members still sense discrimination and prejudice.

Pope Calls for Committed Fight against Hansen’s Disease

Pope Francis led a large open-air mass at Saint Peter’s Square on June 12 and, making a special reference to people affected by Hansen’s disease, called for a “fruitful commitment” in the fight against the disease.

Toward a Stigma-Free World

An international symposium on Hansen’s disease—also called leprosy—was held at the Vatican in June and attracted some 250 participants from 45 countries. Medical practitioners, recovered patients, and religious leaders discussed the efforts needed to end discrimination and announced their recommendations on ways to restore the dignity of people affected by the disease.

Miyazaki Hayao: Preserving the Memory of Leprosy

On January 28, anime director Miyazaki Hayao spoke at a leprosy symposium about how he learned about the disease, how this influenced the making of the film Mononoke Hime (Princess Mononoke), and how he supports efforts to ensure that the hardships and prejudice leprosy sufferers faced are not forgotten.

Leprosy as a Human Rights Issue

On January 27, a ceremony was held in Tokyo to announce the 2015 Global Appeal to End Stigma and Discrimination against People Affected by Leprosy. Prime Minister Abe Shinzō and other dignitaries pledged their support for the struggle against leprosy-related discrimination.

Japanese Efforts Continue to End Discrimination Against Leprosy

The global campaign to eliminate leprosy has made great progress, but prejudice against those affected by the disease persists. Sasakawa Yōhei, the chairman of the Nippon Foundation, has recently called attention to discriminatory statements and depictions regarding the disease.

Leprosy: The Fight to End Legal DiscriminationPaul Melly

Leprosy victims still face legal barriers to travel, education, and employment. In some cases, discrimination makes it impossible for people to marry and raise a family. The Nippon Foundation and the International Bar Association recently launched an international campaign to get rid of these unfair laws. Paul Melly reports.

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