Society and Identity
This paper considers perspectives on the value of human life articulated by advocates of special education in Japan. The paper begins by considering the perspectives of educators such as Kazuo Itoga and Kiyo Kitahara who established special education schools in early postwar Japan. Itoga (1914-1968) established numerous schools and institutions for disabled children in Shiga Prefecture and is described as the “father of welfare for the disabled in Japan.” Kitahara (1925-1989) developed her own system for educating autistic children and established several schools in Musashino, Tokyo and one school in Boston, MA. The paper considers how these educators and their successors argued for the human value of their pupils in the context of dominant perspectives that emphasize academic achievement and contribution to society. The paper also explores how contemporary educationalists, advocates of disabled children, and mothers both use and criticize medical models of disability that draw attention to “normal” and “abnormal” categories of persons, and provides services and treatment accordingly.