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The Reverence for Life Movement - A Community-based Primary Health Care Movement in Kumamoto, Japan

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posted on 15.04.2014, 00:00 by Asako Takekuma-Katsumata
The purpose of this historical case study was to provide such a rich and thick description of the Reverence for Life Movement (RLM) - a community-based Primary Health Care (PHC) movement in Kumamoto, Japan from1962 to 1980 - through synthesis of historical documents and oral histories collected from participants. Based on a postmodern orientation, this case study not only focused on the objective historical facts of the movement, but also emphasized the voices of both leaders and participants of the movement. The oral histories presented a slice of lived experience and conveyed what this community-based social movement meant to the speakers, whose words impart the sense of meaning, motivation, and passion that facilitated their strong commitment to this sustainable social movement. Contextual information included a review of the development of Japan’s health care system and of its standards of rural health practice as pioneered by Dr. Toshikazu Wakatsuki. Along with the history of the RLM, the researcher attempted to analyze the RLM through the theoretical framework of a PHC-based health system as defined by the Pan American Health Organization and World Health Organization in 2007. Set against the PHC-based healthcare framework, the RLM appears as a community-based PHC movement that recruited community support and intersectoral efforts in improving health and healthcare infrastructure in Kumamoto, and impacted health policy nationally. Over the 40 years of continuous activities, the RLM has become a leading example of a sustainable social movement that not only facilitated the health of citizens and communities, but also strengthened the health care infrastructure and modeled the kind of success that grounds good national policy.



Kim, MiJa


College of Nursing

Degree Grantor

University of Illinois at Chicago

Degree Level


Committee Member

Glass, Lauren K. Miller, Arlene M. Ayers, William C. McCreary, Linda L. Lizer, Shannon K.

Publisher Statement

Dissertation 2011



Issue date


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