May 2011 marks a decade since a landmark court ruling in Japan.
In July 1998, a group 13 persons affected by Hansen's disease filed a lawsuit against the Japanese government at the Kumamoto District Court. They were seeking compensation for being forcibly segregated under Japan's Leprosy Prevention Law that took effective in 1907 and was revised in 1953. More lawsuits followed, in Tokyo and Okayama, the next year.
The Kumamoto court eventually ruled in favor of the plaintiffs. It ordered the court to pay them compensation and ruled that the Ministry of Health and Welfare had been negligent in failing to alter its policy of isolation or scrap the law. The government chose not to contest the ruling.
May 2011 marks a decade since that landmark victory. Photojournalist Nobuyuki Yaegashi, a former staff photographer of the Asahi Shimbun, has spent some 15 years covering Hansen's disease. His new book, Kagayaite ikiru (Shining Lives), documents what the past decade has meant for all involved in that struggle. (Published in Japanese by Godo Shuppan, priced 2,000 yen.)
The International Leprosy Association (ILA) Regional Congress of the Americas will be held jointly with the 12th Brazilian Leprosy Congress in Maceio, Brazil, from November 23 to 26, 2011.
The events, which are organized by the ILA and the Brazilian Leprosy Society with support from the Ministry of Health of Brazil, will be an opportunity for people working in leprosy from the Americas and other regions to share their experiences and knowledge. See the ILA website for further details.