©P. Deloche



In 1979, Bernard Kouchner, a French physician, set off on a hospital ship named “Ile de Lumière” (Island of Light) to rescue Vietnamese refugees, and to “bear witness” to the plight of boatpeople drifting on the South China Sea in an attempt to flee from the communist regime. The incident on the high seas drew humanitarian responses from around the world, which saved thousands of lives from peril. The next year in March 1980, Médecins du Monde (MdM) was founded in Paris, France, by a group of fifteen, including Kouchner and his fellow doctors. Since its inauguration, MdM has been engaged in numerous humanitarian missions, not only providing medical care but also testifying and denouncing human-rights violation wherever it could witness it.



The Great Hanshin-Awaji earthquake occurred in 1995, and for the first time, an emergency medical team was dispatched from France to Japan. This rescue mission paved the way for the creation of MdM Japan Office, followed immediately by rescue operations the same year. Ever after, Japanese medical volunteers have been playing important and responsible part on domestic as well as on overseas network of the association.

©Catherine Henriette


1979/1980A group of 15, including Bernard Kouchner and volunteer doctors, set off to the South China Sea to rescue boatpeople -Vietnamese refugees. Returning to France, the group established “Médecins du Monde.”
1981The first volunteer medical team was sent to Vietnam.
1989Start of “Opération Sourire” (Smile Operation), where volunteer surgeons perform plastic and reconstructive surgeries in developing countries, where this discipline is rare or nonexistent
January 1995Emergency medical team came from France to help rescue victims of the Great Hanshin-Awaji Earthquake.
March 1995Inauguration of Médecins du Monde Japan
2000Pre-certification for Specified Non-Profit Organization (NPO)
2004/2005Relief operations in Indonesia and Sri Lanka for the victims of Indian Ocean Earthquake & Tsunami off Sumatra
2007Officially recognized as a Specified Non-Profit Organization (NPO)
2008Advocacy presentation at G8 Toya-ko Summit in Hokkaido, recommending the free-of-charge medical treatment for children of African nations
2009Launch of “Smile Operation” in Bangladesh
2010Launched the first national project “Tokyo Project”
2011The Great East Japan earthquake. MdM Japan started “NIKOKORO Project” (mental care program) in the Otsuchi Town, Iwate Pref.
2012More interventions:
– “Fukushima SouSou Project” at Fukushima SouSou District
– Project for the Reconstruction of Healthcare System in Iwate Prefecture
– Appointment of Ms. Christel Takigawa, free-lance TV announcer, as MdM goodwill ambassador (until 2016)
– “Laos Child Healthcare Project” at Champassak Province, Lao PDR
2013Launch of “Smile Operation” in Myanmar
2014End of “NICOCORO Project”, a mental-care program for the disaster-hit community in Otsuchi Town, Iwate Pref.
2016– End of “Laos Child Healthcare Project”
– “NICOCORO Kumamoto Project”, a mental care project for children and families in the devastated area of Kumamoto Earthquake
2017– Launched “Laos Child Healthcare Enforcement Project” in Houaphanh Province of Lao PDR
– Launched an Emergency Response to Rohingya refugees