Dr Aya Homei

Lecturer in Japanese Studies

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Research interests

I am primarily a historian of medicine and sciences in modern Japan specialised in reproduction and population, but, over the past few years, I have grown interests in the inter-Asian health and medical exchange, especially focusing on the relationship between China and Japan.

My interests are: 

  • Discourses on Japanese population, and the interactions between population policies and the sciences of population
  • Japanese family planning initiatives in East and Southeast Asia in the 1960s & 1970s as development aids
  • Sino-Japanese cooperation in family planning, 1980s
  • HIstory of involuntary sterilization in Japan, 1940s-70s
  • History of geriatrics and gerontology in modern Japan

My forthcoming monograph, Science for Governing Japan's Population (Cambridge University Press, 2022), describes how various medical and social scientific fields and practices developed in Japan c. 1860s-1960s around the idea of “population” (jinkō), and through the process to make national policies. I am also working on a project, 'Family Planning, Health Promotion and Global Medicine, 1945-1995: The activities of Japanese health campaigners around the world', in which I examine Japanese family planning initiatives since the late 1960s (both governmental and non-governmental) in 'developing countries' unfolded under the aegis of overseas medical/technical cooperation and in the context of international health. I am looking at Sino-Japanese technical cooperation in family planning and maternal and child health, as a case study that challenges the historiography of global health.

As part of my research on the history of global health, I am involved in the Commission on Science, Technology and Diplomacy (STAND) as Vice President, whcih forms part of in the International Union of History and Philosophy of Science and Technology Division of History of Science and Technology (IUHPST/DHST)

In 2023, I will carry out historical research on the involuntary sterilization in Japan at Ritsumeikan University in Kyoto, as a visiting fellow funded by JSPS.

Finally, I have begun to study how medicines and sciences surrounding the old age developed in modern Japan.


Research and projects