Language of Victims in the HIV Tainted Blood Product Incident in Japan in Early 1980s

Saturday, 21 July 2018: 13:45
Oral Presentation
Tomiaki YAMADA, Matsuyama University, Japan
In order to address the language of victims of contemporary social sufferings, we cannot avoid locating the problems concerning the appropriate ways of representing the victims; as Arthur Kleinmann et.al.(1997, Social Suffering, University of California Press) warned us of the media appropriation of the victims laden with the tragic stories such that the disembodied and decontextualized typical terrible images of the victims could be distributed worldwide and consumed as commercialized commodities through the TV and Newspaper separated from the original contexts.
This media appropriation brought about the over-simplified understanding of the HIV tainted blood product incident in Japan which divided the actors involved in this incident into the good and the evil. The pharmaceutical companies which imported the HIV tainted products from the U.S.,the state which gave permission to the products' distribution in public market and the doctors were severely accused as if acting in collusion. In contrast, the hemophilia patients were represented as innocent victims. This good and evil picture could lead to the acquisition of the empathetic public support which could be one of the reasons why the joint plaintiff of hemophilia patients could succeed in getting the court-mediated settlement in favor of them.Looking back to the warnings of A. Kleinmann, we have to leave the simplified version of the incident behind and situate the language of victims back in the original historical and social contexts. The result was that we could attain the context dependent and relational knowledge; we could follow the life-story narratives of each victim, as some proverb says, thousand lives, thousand stories.