The project “Healthy Japan 21”, running from 2000 to 2010 and under the auspices of the Ministry of Health, Labor and Welfare, the Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports and Education, as well as companies, foundations, and NPOs, was meant to be a “movement” to promote ways to prolong the healthy period of peoples' lives. Its claim is to bundle Japanese society together in one joint attempt to create a new idea of “health”. Health shall no longer be perceived as something that ought to be protected, but rather as something that must be actively produced, by focusing on ways to develop healthy lifestyles and reduce risk factors for diseases, such as diabetes, cancer, and heart disease.
This talk, part of my PhD project, examines the „Healthy Japan 21“ project as an example of normative health policy, a form of policy making that does not only use incentives and sanctions to achieve its goals, but tries to gain influence on the perceptions and definition of health itself.
By means of Foucauldian discourse analysis, I explore the idea of “health” in contemporary Japanese society, focusing on the following questions. How are statements or utterances about health structured within the public health campaigns? What is the order of knowledge that allows certain statements about health and prohibits others, also taking into consideration the changed legal framework of health policy?
Thomas Huellein is a Ph.D. student at the Institute of East Asian Studies (Japanese Studies section) at the University of Zurich. Currently, he is conducting his fieldwork in Japan on a DIJ grant.