Deutsches Institut für Japanstudien nav lang search
Deutsches Institut für Japanstudien
Humans & Machines in Medical Contexts: Case Studies from Japan



Deutsches Institut für Japanstudien
Jochi Kioizaka Bldg. 2F
7-1 Kioicho
Chiyoda-ku, Tokyo 102-0094



Dr. Susanne Brucksch
German Institute for Japanese Studies

Ass. Prof. Kaori Sasaki
Otaru University of Commerce


Participation after advance registration only.

For any queries, please contact the organisers via email:

DIJ Workshop

Humans & Machines in Medical Contexts: Case Studies from Japan

31. März 2017

Please find the programme here (PDF).

Please find the outline, abstracts and CVs of participants of the workshop here (PDF).


Medical instruments and technologies can be used to manipulate the human body, ranging from general devices with extremely low risk to such ones highly invasive to patients. Many technologies and electronic appliance nowadays in use took their roots in the second half of the 19th century, and were increasingly merged into clinics and hospitals during the following century. At present, there can be observed a thrust of technological progress at high pace in the field of biomedical engineering and medical informatics, which contribute additionally to new configurations in in the human-device interplay in Japan.
By the same token, new forms of knowledge production increasingly rely on the mechanical instruments and devices, which are applied for prevention, diagnostics, therapeutics, rehabilitation, curation of disorders and disease, or even bodily enhancement. Owing much to such developments, various routines in medical practices have been changing including surgical operations, management of patient data, and the organisation of national health systems. It is not only practitioners that face new dimensions of uncertainties but also lawmakers that have difficulties institutionalising appropriate rules, procedures and legal standards in order to reduce the risk of (fatal) medical errors.


Whereas human-machines interaction has been allegedly studied in various disciplines in Japan – albeit within predominantly engineering, life sciences and natural sciences – the contributions by humanities and social sciences seem to converge upon the fields of History of Medicine, Bioethics and Medical Anthropology. However, there obviously are limitations regarding the contributions by other disciplines of humanities and social sciences as well as occasions for academic exchange with engineering and natural sciences. We hence argue that currently there is still need for transdisciplinary research approaches to the field of study of Human & Machines in Medical Contexts within Japan.


In order to explore the issues arising from the clinical practices vis-à-vis applications of the (then new) medical devices, the workshop casts light on their various aspects. The participants will address features regarding the historical, legal, socio-structural, engineering and bioethical conditions and consequences of the interplay between humans and medical technologies or instruments, respectively health care practices in contemporary Japan. Moreover, the participants will reflect on the different theoretical and methodological approaches that enables us to study human-technology interplay and discuss transdisciplinary approaches by using case studies from their own respective disciplines to illustrate the manifold facets of the field. We hence suggest this as a starting point to encourage scholarly exchange and joint research on this field.


10:00 Uhr
Greetings by Prof. Dr. Franz Waldenberger, Director of DIJ

Franz Waldenberger

Deutsches Institut für Japanstudien

10:05 Uhr
Opening Remarks on the Basic Ideas of the Workshop

Susanne Brucksch

Deutsches Institut für Japanstudien

10:20 Uhr
Session A: Policy and Innovation Efforts on Medical Devices

Policy and innovation efforts on medical devices

Prof. emer. Christa Altenstetter
The City University of New York (CUNY)

Close collaboration between medical doctors and engineers to achieve innovation of medical devices

Prof. Kazuo Tanishita
Waseda University

Discussant: Dr. Susanne Brucksch

11:20 Uhr
Short Break

11:30 Uhr
Session B: Body Boundaries, Property Rights and Patient Data regarding Medical Devices

The Concept of persona as seen from the perspective of philosophy: Brain death, Nō play, and robots

Prof. Masahiro Morioka
Waseda University

Medical record clerks and electronic patient records: Their impact on clinical practices and perceptions in hospitals in Japan

Ass. Prof. Kaori Sasaki
Otaru Universiy of Commerce

Terminal care and Criminal Law: Focusing on the precedents in Japan

Prof. Yuji Shiroshita
Hokkaido University

Discussant: Koichi Mikami, Ph.D., The University of Edinburgh

13:00 Uhr
Lunch Break

14:00 Uhr
Session C: Ontology and Human-Machine Interaction: The Case of ALS and Cyborg-type Robot HAL

A technology-based approach to ALS patient care

Yumiko Kawaguchi, Ph.D.
Director of the Japan ALS Association (JALSA)

Cybernic treatment using the cyborg-type robot Hybrid Assistive Limb (HAL) to enhance functional regeneration in patients with rare incurable neuromuscular diseases

Dr. Takashi Nakajima
Niigata National Hospital

Discussant: Dr. Celia Spoden, University of Düsseldorf

15:00 Uhr
Short Break

15:15 Uhr
Session D: History on Instruments, Technology and Medical Practices

Manufacturing radiation: Radiological machines and managers in pre-war Japan

Shi-Lin Loh, Ph.D.
Harvard University, Keio University

Establishing a dosimetry system for ionizing radiation: The role and agency of measuring instruments and atomic bomb survivors

Maika Nakao, Ph.D.
Ritsumeikan University

Discussant: Ass. Prof. Kaori Sasaki, Otaru University of Commerce

16:15 Uhr
Coffee Break

16:45 Uhr
Reflecting Remarks

Prof. Akihito Suzuki
Keio University

Prof. Kazuo Tanishita
Waseda University

17:15 Uhr
Joint discussion by participants

Moderation: Dr. Susanne Brucksch

18:30 Uhr
End of workshop

Verwandte Forschungsprojekte

Humans and Devices in Medical Contexts in Japan (Buchprojekt)

Biomedical Engineering in Japan: Technische Innovationen und Forschungskooperationen

Aging in Japan: Domestic Healthcare Technologies in Place