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ARCHIVED ONLINE LECTURE - Physical Disability and the Politics of Inclusion in Contemporary Japan

Saturday 9 July 2022 / 11:00am
ONLINE LECTURE - Physical Disability and the Politics of Inclusion in Contemporary Japan

Saturday 9 July 2022
11.00 am (BST) / 7.00 pm (JST)
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Booking Details
Online Lecture
Free – Donations Welcome
Registration essential

Book online here

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Attempts by activists and policymakers to facilitate social inclusion of physically disabled persons in contemporary Japan have frequently excluded as many impaired individuals as they empowered. To explain why interested parties have emphasized the needs of certain demographics over others when developing built environments, education, employment, entertainment, and medical systems, I provide a regional history of physical disability policy and social movements in this presentation.

My analysis suggests that economic pressures tied to macrosocial processes like industrialization, globalization, and population ageing have helped structure Japan’s so-called ‘politics of inclusion.’ Equally influential have been international flows of information, materials, and people working in the disability welfare sphere, which have inspired Japanese politicians to pursue domestic reforms. Additionally, mega-events have created windows of opportunity for advocates to advance projects.

My talk demonstrates why stakeholders interested in Japan must investigate policies developed by and for disabled people to fully grasp the nation’s modes of governance and material innovations. It also shows why people concerned with equity issues outside Japan must examine its local history. Interested parties have exported Japan’s assistive devices overseas and its access-making activities have served, and likely will continue to serve, as models to emulate and avoid for other countries.

Mark R. Bookman
is Postdoctoral Fellow at Tokyo College, the University of Tokyo. His research explores the history of disability and connected social movements in Japanese and global contexts. Mark’s scholarship on disability has appeared or is forthcoming in peer-reviewed journals such as The Journal of Japanese Studies, Disability Studies Quarterly, and Japan Focus: The Asia-Pacific Journal. Mark has also written editorials and commentary for public media outlets including The Japan Times, The New York Times, The Washington Post, The BBC, Al Jazeera, and many others. 

Outside the academy, Mark also works as a disability policy consultant. He has collaborated with government agencies and corporate entities in Japan, the United States, and Canada, as well as the International Paralympic Committee and United Nations, on projects related to inclusive education, equitable environments, and disaster risk management for diverse populations of disabled people.

For additional information about Mark, see his website:

If you have any questions, please call the Japan Society office on 020 3075 1996 or email

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