“Invisible” War Trauma in Japan: Medicine, Society and Military Psychiatric Casualties

Monday, 11 July 2016: 14:22
Location: Hörsaal 45 (Main Building)
Oral Presentation
Eri NAKAMURA, Hitotsubashi University, Japan
In Japan, it was after the Great Hanshin-Awaji Earthquake in 1995 that the concept of trauma and the diagnosis of Post- Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) had been accepted and recognized more widely. Although Japanese modern society had faced and caused massive violence so many times before the devastating earthquake and there were some moments when terrified people after massive violence were drawn attention, they were “forgotten”. Where have they gone?

     This paper deals with the war Japan had experienced from 1937 to 1945 and its military psychiatric casualties as an example of “forgotten” trauma. There were two important institutions for war psychiatry in Japan. One was Kohnodai Military Hospital, which specialized in mental and neurological disorder and was established in 1938 after the Second Sino-Japanese War started. The other was Musashi Military Sanatorium, which received veterans with mental disorder and was established in 1940.

     This paper explores how Japanese wartime medicine and society responded these casualties. One reason why these people have been “invisible” is the absence of wartime official documents which Japanese military incinerated or concealed just after the end of the war. To make up for this absence, this paper is based on the survey of the archives of clinical records documented in Kohnodai Military Hospital and Musashi Military Sanatorium. Although these records were documented mostly by doctors, they will provide us plenty of quantitative and qualitative data on patients. Through analyzing these records, this paper reconsiders war trauma not only in medical but also social, political and cultural contexts.