I visited Tokyo from 29th April to 30th May 2019 to commence a longitudinal study on the impact of the Tokyo 2020 Paralympic Games upon the lived experience of people with disabilities living in the greater Tokyo metropolitan area. Using my contacts in Japan I was able to identify twenty-six Japanese people with disabilities to be interviewed. The same people will be interviewed just before and just after and 2 and 4 years after the Tokyo 2020 Paralympic Games in order to ascertain whether the Games have any impact upon the lived experience of these people over time. The initial interviews yielded some very interesting findings regarding the current situation of the interviewees and how they perceive what it is like to be disabled in Japan. Key amongst these was the prevalence of the medical model of disability in the way the interviewees perceive disability and the subtle impact of language in this regard. For example, the word for non-disabled people in Japan is Kenjosha, meaning fully healthy, thus producing a narrative that equates disability with health and reinforcing a medical model perspective
I also took part in two symposia whilst in Tokyo. On Friday 17th May I was the invited keynote speaker at ‘The Paradox in Promoting Sports for People with Disabilities’ symposium organised by the Nippon Foundation Paralympic Support Centre and Nihon Fukushi University and then on Saturday 18th May I was the keynote speaker at a symposium organised by the Co-Innovation Laboratory (COIL) and designed to investigate the potential impacts of the Tokyo 2020 Olympic and Paralympic Games on Japanese society from three perspectives: i. the impact of the London 2012 Games; ii. The Sustainable Development Goals, and; iii. Social Impact Bonds. My presentations focussed upon perspective one and I delivered two presentations entitled “Attitudes towards people with disabilities and the legacy of the London 2012 Paralympic Games” and “The Legacy of U.K. Government Austerity Policies for People with Disabilities Following the London 2012 Paralympic Games”.