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Accidental ActivistsVictim Movements and Government Accountability in Japan and South Korea$
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Celeste L. Arrington

Print publication date: 2016

Print ISBN-13: 9780801453762

Published to Cornell Scholarship Online: August 2016

DOI: 10.7591/cornell/9780801453762.001.0001

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Hansen’s Disease Survivors’ Rights

Hansen’s Disease Survivors’ Rights

(p.70) 3 Hansen’s Disease Survivors’ Rights
Accidental Activists

Celeste L. Arrington

Cornell University Press

For most of the twentieth century, Japanese and Korean people affected by leprosy (also called Hansen’s disease) were ostracized in specialized sanatoria (leprosaria) and subjected to various human rights abuses, including forced abortions and vasectomies, as a result of their governments’ policies and societal discrimination. Around the turn of the millennium, leprosy survivors in both countries mobilized to hold their governments accountable for contributing to their suffering. Through a comparison of leprosy-related activism in Japan and Korea, this chapter explores how early access to political elites can be detrimental for outsider groups. Some degree of initial political closure drives movements to invest more in grassroots mobilization, which tends to produce greater redress outcomes in the long run.

Keywords:   Japan, South Korea, leprosy, political activism, redress, victims, human rights abuse, leprosy survivors, grassroots mobilization

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