The relationship between sports and medicine in Japan has remained largely unexplored by historians. This paper aims to clarify the historical context in which the relationship became closer and the professional practice called ‘sports medicine’ grew in relation to the social and political situation surrounding sports around 1930 in prewar Japan. From the late-1920s to the early 1930s, the view on sports of sports medical scientists, who had come to occupy a position as experts on sportspeople’s bodies, was different from that of physical education and exercise advocates, and they rejected the framing of sports as physical education. Also, the mechanism for realizing sports medicine research and the application of the findings were not established by the state-led movement, but by private sports medicine organizations. It can thus be said that sports medicine was the product of a movement by the sports world to define sports and the ‘sportsman’, and to autonomously prevent the physical harm of sports and at the same time contribute to the improvement of athletic performance.
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