The role of Special Education in tomorrow`s Japan.

Japan has often been praised and lauded for their high test scores in literacy and numeracy, as seen in analysis by PISA, but can the West teach Japan about dealing with disability and special education?

Personalized learning and differentiation in even mainstream classrooms is not common, most children are taught the same content, at the same pace, using the same scope and sequence. Many international schools and some universities hoping to attract foreign students are at the forefront of promoting the personalization of learning for students with disabilities and Special educational needs

Although there have been some movement towards integration there is still some resistance, both from schools unsure of how to change and parents who are concerned about labeling their child and the stigma that may accompany it. There are some common impediments to inclusion of students with disabilities in the mainstream classroom and today`s learning world. Ranging from the structure of many school buildings (2 to 4 stories high, poorly designed with no legal requirement for ramps or handrails etc.) to the stigma that families can feel about having disabled children.

For the future, some improvements that could be made are ;

  • Special and mainstream education incorporating strategies and resources such as differentiated (personalized) learning.
  • IEPs (Individual Education Plans) to be provided and implemented in regular class.
  • Professional counseling in all schools.
  • Accommodations and technology provided for students who need or would benefit from them.
  • School and public places designed with disability access in mind.
  • Less bureaucracy and more help available to families to apply for and obtain publicly funded and available services for the disabled.
  • A reduction in the social stigma experienced by families with disabled students and a recognition of disabled students as valuable, contributing members of society.
  • More families seeking and welcoming help for LD, ADHD and Autistic children.

If academic excellence, and an open-minded, modern approach to special education can work symbiotically then Japan will excel in both fields.



Categories of Disability Under IDEA | Center for Parent Information and Resources. (2016). Retrieved 15 May 2016, from

Japan’s special education system: not so special.. (2016). Retrieved 15 May 2016, from

Kaoru, Y. (2016). development of Special needs Education in Japan and some current problems. (1st ed.). Ashibetsu-shi, Hokkaido: Seisa University. Retrieved from

Kittaka, L. (2015). Different strokes: navigating the Japanese school system with a learning difficulty | The Japan Times. The Japan Times. Retrieved 15 May 2016, from

Understanding Special Education Law (IDEA). (2016). Retrieved 14 May 2016, from


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