Development of the Japanese Inclusive Education System: From Special Schools to Curriculum Modification for Special-Needs Education in Regular Schools

Peer-reviewed article
(2020 Aug) Proceedings of the 1st Progress in Social Science, Humanities and Education Research Symposium (PSSHERS 2019)


Hiroki, Yoneda


This literature review examines the development of the inclusive educational system in Japan. It traces the history of accommodation for children with disabilities from 1947 to 2017, using reports, notices, and statistics on special needs education from the Japanese Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology. The Japanese system began with special schools designed according to the disabilities of the students. The paradigm shifted to special-needs classrooms within regular schools and, later, to ensuring access to regular schools for children with disabilities. Currently, the 2017 revision of the Japanese system seeks to ensure a common curriculum to secure continuity among a diverse range of learning settings. This revision also focuses on teaching students with learning difficulties in a regular school setting and adapting the curriculum according to their disabilities. Nonetheless, some flexibility in choice of setting remains with the parents and children involved. The ultimate goal of the Japanese inclusive education curriculum is independent living and the social participation of the individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities, as well as other disabilities. Over time, the focus of the inclusive education system has shifted from the location in which classes and support are offered to students with disabilities, to the content that best meets the needs of students with disabilities of every type.