Northeast Asia

Organized Panel Session

4 - Occupational Disease Recognition Process in Modern and Contemporary Japan and Mining Archives

Saturday, July 7
8:30 AM - 10:00 AM
Location: Jacaranda I, First Floor

This paper examines the place of occupational health in Japanese mining archives of different types, how workers and their relatives were able to use them in their fight for recognition and compensation, and how historians can use those archives -- and their use by workers -- to build an historical narrative on recognition processes.


   The paper will particularly focus on silicosis, and more generally pneumoconiosis, which was the deadliest occupational disease in the mining industry. However, to bring to light the particularities of silicosis, it will also make comparisons with other occupational health issues such as tuberculosis or labor accidents. It will analyze how Japanese workers, knowing silicosis from protoindustrial times under the name of yoroke, were kept away from knowledge by increasingly technical and bureaucratic medical expertise, but tried to reclaim knowledge about the nature of the risks they were facing and the diseases they were fighting using the available documents. We will also see how large mining companies have tried to limit access to this knowledge, particularly through access to archives, and how this limitation also impacts the work of historians.

Bernard Thomann

Institut National des Langues et Civilisations Orientales, France

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