Masataka Murata

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Masataka Murata
Born October 5, 1884
Kōchi Prefecture, Japan
Died December 20, 1974 (1974-12-21) (aged 90)
Nationality Japan
Occupation Physician, Director of a leper hospital, Sotojima Hoyoen Sanatorium, in Osaka
Known for Serodiagnosis of syphilis, Murata's method, Studies on leprosy

Masataka Murata (村田 正太, Murata Masataka, October 5, 1884 – December 20, 1974) was a Japanese physician. He invented a Murata's method for the serodiagnosis of syphilis, and studied leprosy. He worked at the Osaka Prefectural Sotojima Sanatorium and was the director between 1926 and 1933. He treated leprosy patients as respectable persons. After the Sotojima Incident, in which communists were against religious societies, he resigned as the director of the sanatorium. Later, he personally studied leprosy at his house, and died in 1974.



  • In 1884, he was born in Kōchi Prefecture. When he was studying laws, he was interested in leprosy since a woman he knew developed leprosy. He asked Kensuke Mitsuda for advice, and studied medicine at Tokyo University following his advice. He worked in the Institute of Infectious Diseases and invented the Murata's method for serodiagnosis of syphilis. In 1926 he assumed the post of the director of Osaka Prefectural Sotojima Sanatorium. In 1928, he was one of the founders of the Japanese Leprosy Association, together with Kensuke Mitsuda.

The Sotojima Incident and the Typhoon Muroto[edit]

  • When he assumed the post of the director, the sanatorium was a dark society with a lot of gamblings, and the public morals were very low. First he improved the meals (daily cost improved from 13 sen to 22 sen(the lower units than yen) and admitted the autonomy of patients. In 1932, communists came into the sanatorium, and his attitude toward the autonomy of patients was mistaken for his favoring communism. After severe questioning at the police, he decided to quit in 1933, later he studied leprosy without assuming any posts. He released communists giving each person 10 yen for peace. In 1934, the sanatorium met the severest Muroto typhoon, and many patients and worked died. Survivors were sent to other sanatoriums, and the new Oku-Komyoen Sanatorium was established in 1938 in Nagashima neighboring the Nagashima Aiseien Sanatorium, which was the succession to the Sotojima Hoyoen.


  • He was said to be an "Igossoh", a stubborn person who sticks to his principles. As to leprosy patients, he respected their autonomy, while Kensuke Mitsuda led patients, while he regarded himself as the father of the family.


  • 1. 桜井方策「村田正太先生を追悼す」 レプラ 44,1, 1975. In Japanese.
  • 2. 安部礼治「外島保養院小史」『楓』1953年1月号から8月号まで。
  • 3 近代庶民生活史 20 病気・衛生472,1995. in Japanese.
  • 4 忘れえない恩師 村田正太 坂本 昭 in 救らいの父、村田先生顕彰碑のしおり 1978, in Japanese.


  1. ^ Hosaku Sakurai: In memory of Masataka Murata, Lepra 44, 1, 1975.

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