The Japanese Association of Special Education has a history of more than half a century since the 1st Convention and inaugural meeting (at Tokyo University of Education) were held together in 1963. At that time, in response to the completion of a compulsory system of school education for visually and/or hearing impaired persons and the improvement of teachers’ college, the following developments were undertaken: establishment of schools for disabled children, announcement of related curriculum guidelines, and provision of teacher-training courses for schools for disabled children. There was strong momentum towards the institutionalization and promotion of postwar special education in the wake of high economic growth. Special education experienced an era of great transition from 1979 to 2007: in 1979, a compulsory system of school education for disabled children was implemented; in 1993, special support services in resource rooms where disabled children can receive classes if required were institutionalized; in 1999, independent activities were established in accordance with the revision of curriculum guidelines, and creation of individual teaching plans became mandatory; and in 2007, special education made the transition to the Special Needs Education system. The Association walked the same path as postwar special education in Japan. In 2012, we reached the milestone of the 50th Convention, which was held at Tsukuba International Congress Center and attracted a large number of participants.
The Japanese Association of Special Education aims to enhance its operation based on several visions, looking toward the next half-century. Firstly, we strive to internationalize our operation. We issued the “Journal of Special Education Research”, an independent journal written in English, in order to convey the academic outcomes of special needs education in Japan as well as announce the uniqueness of our educational practice to the world. In addition, we are moving ahead with a plan to build an academic network in the East Asian region through academic exchange and collaboration with special education associations in Korea and Taiwan. Our aim is to make visible our efforts and achievement, and enhance our activities that contribute broadly to the benefit of our members. Secondly, we aspire to regionalize our operation. One of the characteristics of the Association is the fact that a large number of our members are practical researchers who work in various fields of practice. Members include teachers at special-needs schools, as well as practical researchers in related fields such as corrections, welfare and healthcare. Japan has been forging a number of measures with the view that enhancing special needs education is essential in order to build an inclusive education system. The Association aims to contribute to the enhancement special needs education in the regions through academic research activities. As an experimental operation, we have launched a subsidized project for practical research on special needs education beginning in FY 2014.
The Association is committed to promoting special needs education through deeper academic research here and abroad. We ask for our members’ continued understanding and cooperation. We also sincerely welcome the admission and participation of people interested in the Japanese Association of Special Education.