In his authoritative historiography, “Research Trends on Disability Studies and Disability Movements in Japan” (2014), Katsunori Watanabe suggests that existing research on disability in Japan can be divided into eight general categories: 1) research about the social model of disability, 2) research about disability and applied social sciences (i.e. law and policy), 3) research about disability and social welfare, 4) research about the history of specific disabilities, 5) research about the history of disability movements, 6) research about social workers and caregivers, 7) research about disability in specific locations, and 8) research that reconsiders the objectives of disability studies from the perspective of disability movements.
My research engages each of these bodies of literature while addressing at least two additional areas of inquiry: 1) the relationship between disability and media production in Japan, and 2) the relationship between disability and assistive technology in Japan. By investigating the relationship between disability and media production in Japan, I demonstrate how local ideas about disability reciprocally shape and are shaped by global flows of information. And by interrogating the relationship between disability and assistive technology in Japan, I reveal how assistive technologies designed to help persons with disabilities may also harm them in many cases. Both of these insights have broader significance for the field of Disability Studies as a whole, which could significantly benefit from the comparative perspective offered by my research.