2013 EASTS, Tokyo Inst. Of Technology, Togo Tsukahara’s Session on

Disaster, Climate and Medicine in Colonial History of East Asia.


History of Disaster: Climate Studies combined with Medical History from East Asian Colonial Context.





Prof. Dr. Togo Tsukahara (塚原東吾、神戸大学教授)

Prof. Dr. Shin Chang Geon(愼蒼健、東京理科大学教授)



Prof. Dr. Song Sang Yong (宋相庸教授) from Korea (韓国科学史学会、生命倫理学会、元会長)

Prof. Dr. Zhou Cheng (周程) from Beijing University(北京大学教授)



Dr. Zhu Marlon(朱瑪瓏博士), Academia Sinica, Taiwan (台湾中央研究院)

Dr. Law Yuen Han (羅婉嫻博士), Hongkong Baptist University (香港バプティスト大学)

Prof. Dr. Togo Tsukahara and Asso.Prof. Dr. Masumi Zaiki (財城真寿美、成蹊大学准教授)



Prof. Dr. Wataru Iijima (飯島渉、青山学院大学教授),

Prof. Dr. Shigeo Sugiyama(杉山滋夫、北海道大学教授)

Prof. Dr. Takehiko Mikami (三上岳彦、平成帝京大学教授)

Asso.Prof. Dr. Kim Boumsoung (金凡性、広島工業大学准教授)

Asso.Prof. Dr. Tomo Ichikawa (市川智夫、元上海交通大学、現長崎大学准教授)



(Purpose of Session)
As the organizers of this conference claimed, in our East Asian Community, we have experienced such earthquakes of 921 at Taiwan in 1999, Sichuan in 2008, Tohoku in 2011, and numbers of Typhoons and epidemics, also all different forms of natural/man-made disasters. Our conference aims at examination of these experiences from STS.  We should observe the cases from the perspectives of the scientific and technological points of view with its social interactions. It should now be examined whether if the decision making before and after these disasters were taken appropriately or not, as a part of tasks for STS-ers. As we see Fukushima, we have just experienced that technology itself could cause huge damage to the society. We have seriously recognized the limit of technological counter measure like coastal dykes against tsunami, and we feel it necessary to re-consider these problems from STS perspectives in our East Asian context. What should be the most effective precautionary measurements? Can we develop sciences and technology which is able to predict, and properly prepare for the potential disasters?
In order to answer these questions, this session will take a position in history of sciences and medicine. We would like to focus on the fact that climatology and epidemic medicine must be the one of the answers to this question. 
Prediction of earthquake is still preliminary, but Typhoon prediction is reliable. We agree that epidemiology and hygienic medicine (hygienic modernity) has so far successfully controlled major epidemic outbreak in last several decades. What can we learn from these successful cases? And, the critical question that we should keep asking is that are these sciences/medicine really successful?
In this session, we would like to look into historical background for those sciences in context of colonial history of sciences.  It is considered that mainly for the purpose of colonial management, partly in order to avoid disasters, sciences related to climate/meteorology and medicine were developed co-productively in colonial context in East Asia.


I our session Dr. Zhu gave us how British meteorology developed as a case studies. As a historian of climatology/medicine, after establishment of his series of works of Chinese coastal meteorology (on Typhoon in 2000 and Ph.D. on committement of Inter-port mercantile community to meteology in 2012), he will give us a talk on a little bit wider geographical extention, British meteorological sciences in Culcutta, India.


Dr. Law will show us internal relationship between medicine and climatology. With her insights as a historian of colonial medicine, particularly that of epidemics and colonial quarantine control, she will discuss how meteorological reports were written by the Colonial Surgeon. Her presentation also touches further geographically to Singapore, and to the key concepts like British Tropical Medicine.


Prof. Dr. T. Tsukahara and Dr. M. Zaiki will discuss how meteorology was practiced in East Asian colonial ports towns. For that, they shed lights on News papers published in those British colonial (open) ports, like Hongkong and Shanghai, and also those open ports of Nagasaki, Kobe and Yokohama in Japan. Those are important nods for the so-called British colonial media networks, which would then be connected by telegram. This is a case study of how scientific knowledge of meteorology were carried around before the telegram networking.  Potential disaster, caused by global warming, is also a part of issue discussed within this historical reconstruction approach, because history is the only way to know the future.



(Presentation 1)
Henry Piddington of Calcutta and the Law of Storms for Sailors in the Eastern Seas

Marlon Zhu (朱瑪瓏博士)
Post-doctoral Fellow, Institute of Taiwan History, Academia Sinica

Calcutta in the eighteenth and nineteenth century has became in recent years a new focus of history of science which emphasized the role of “locality and site” in knowledge production that beyond the Europe-centered narratives. Scholars of “science and empire” such as Kapil Raj started to examine in the City’s pivotal role in the making of scientific knowledge and circulation of colonial information, practice in the eighteenth century. Contrast to the accordingly revisited fields such as botany, geology, geodesy, cartography, geography and others, this article focuses on meteorology, examining the knowledge of tropical storms centered at Calcutta. Henry Piddington (1797-1858), a British subject in Calcutta and the President of the Marine Court of Inquiry, had become one of the founders of the studies of tropical storms among several storm-threatened areas around the world. He published several articles and books on the tropical storms in the India and China Seas, which had great influence especially among seafarers. This article argues that Piddington had further demonstrated the role of Calcutta as the center of calculation for the accumulation and circulation of the knowledge of tropical storms.

Keywords: Henry Piddington, Calcutta, Law of Storms, center of calculation



(Presentation 2)

Climatic Observation and Tropical Medicine in Asian Colonies: the Colonial Surgeon’s Reports of Hong Kong and Singapore as a Case Study


Law Yuen Han  (羅婉嫻博士), Hongkong Baptist University (香港バプティスト大学)


The significant relation between climatology and medicine began seeing emphasis during 19th Century when Britain expanded her colonial empire in Asia. In the early colonial period, the Colonial Surgeon was the initial and most important officer in charge of all matters relating to health within the colony. He was responsible for writing a Colonial Surgeon’s Report annually where he recorded the condition of health and sanitation inside the community. A detailed description of the information of the colonial climate such as humidity, temperature, direction of wind and wind speed, was one of the main characteristics of the early Colonial Surgeon’s Report. As the colonial climate was totally different from that of their nation of origin, it was a fatal factor that caused high mortality amongst the colonizers as according to the Colonial Surgeon’s Report. Colonies were not suitable for the British and the more information from the Colonial Surgeon, the more dangerous it seemed for British to stay in the colonies.

Under the influence of the Colonial Surgeon’s Report, Tropical Medicine then became the leading research project for medicine in Britain. In order to protect the health of colonizers, reducing their mortality rate and augmenting the colonial rule in Asian and African colonies, Britain supported the Tropical Medicine experts to devote medical research and investigation in this area. The Colonial Surgeon’s Report provided many first hand source on health conditions in the colony for further investigation and decision. Also, the record was used as an evidence to support the necessity of establishing medical institutions in the colonies, despite numerous objections from the British government in the earliest days.

This presentation studies the Colonial Surgeon’s Reports of Hong Kong and Singapore in the period of 19th Century to examine how climatology affected the status of Tropical Medicine in colonies and inside Britain. It will focus on the following aspects: (1) the contents recorded on colonial climate found in the Colonial Surgeon’s Report; (2) the impression of colonies created and shaped by the Colonial Surgeon’s Report; (3) the rise of Tropical Medicine in colonies and Britain; (4) the relationship between imperialism, medicine and climatology.    


(Presentation 3)


19TH Ccentury Chinese Coastal Meteorology: Climate Reconstruction

based on Historical Record in English Newspapers



Togo TsukaharaKobe Universityand Masumi Zaiki (Seikei University)




This presentation will report the nineteenth century climate data gathering and its reconstruction based on historical records reported on the English newspaper at the Chinese-Japanese coastal (colonial port) cities. Most of those Chinese coastal cities are controlled by British, known as colonial port towns, and most of places, English language newspapers are published by the British as the medium for their commercial and public communication. These newspapers are consisting the parts of the so-called “(British) Imperial media network”, which once has spread all kinds of news, foremost financial and trade data, all over the world, in the British Empire that was “without setting sun”. Our research project is intending to collect meteorological information and data appeared in those newspapers at the Chinese and Japanese coastal cities, such as Honkong, Amoi, Shanghai, Nagasaki, Kobe and Yokohama, as well as one of the most important meteorological stations in the East Asia, Manila.  Time-span is targeted mainly before 1873, the year of the establishment of CCMR (China Coast Meteorological Register), with special reference to the period around the Opium war 1840-42 and when the five Chinese ports were opened by the Convention of Tientsin in 1884. This time period is comparable to meteorological observation by the Japanese open ports in the 1850s-60s. This is a collaboration project between historian and scientists in a pretty STS methodology: Tsukahara is principally collecting and digitizing these data, examining historical background for the observation, Zaiki gives technical and meteorological advice to reconstruct these data comparable to other scientific data sets.