Event Report: Korea Japan Disability Studies Forum

published: 2015-03-05

Korea Japan Disability Studies Forum is an international research seminar organized by the Research Center for Ars Vivendi and Disability Studies Forum in Korea, an internationally active organization run by people with disabilities. Alternating between Japan and Korea since the first Forum was held in 2010, this event was staged for the 5th time in academic year 2014.

At this “Korea Japan Disability Studies Forum” held at the E_room Center in Seoul, South Korea, on Thursday, November 20th 2014, China participated for the first time, and vigorous discussions and exchanges of information took place between researchers and people with disabilities from Japan, South Korea, and China. In Part 1, two oral presentations and seventeen poster presentations were given on the main theme of “Disability and Treatment”. Part 2 featured a presentation analyzing cases in which patients autonomously collaborate in clinical trials and a presentation clarifying the effectiveness and problematic aspects of visually impaired teacher support systems. In Part 3 three presentations were given concerning the activities of people with disabilities and civil society organizations in China. Here I would like to give a basic summary of what took place in Part 1.

At the beginning of the session Mr. Lim Mincheol gave a presentation concerning the relationship between influences of a society, parents and doctors who see undergoing surgery as self-evidently beneficial on people with disabilities and disability identity based on an interview study of people with dwarfism who have undergone surgery. A participant in the meeting place spoke about his own experience of his identity being formed by undergoing surgery.

Next, in the Q & A session following Ms. Ahn Hyosuk's presentation “Coexistence of Intractable Diseases and Disability”, a question along the lines of “Can't people with disabilities live without obtaining the understanding of society?” was posed. Ms. Ahn responded that the understanding of society is indeed necessary because people with ALS require medical care such as the operation of ventilators in order to go on living.

One thing Mr. Lim and Ms. Ahn's presentations had in common was their highlighting of how important it is that people with disabilities be provided with adequate medical information. In the discussion held in Part 1, the individuality of disability that becomes difficult to see when we consider medical care and social models as relations to be opposed and how each kind of disability has interacted with medicine until now emerged as points of debate.

How participants from these three countries will continue to share information going forward is an issue that remains to be addressed, but I would like to express my gratitude to Ms. Kwak Jeongran, Ms. Ahn Hyosuk, Mr. Lim Deokyoung, Mr. Lee Wook, and Ms. Shin Ju Hyun for providing translation and interpretation on the day of the event, and also to everyone else who was involved in facilitating this Forum. Thank you.

SAKAI Megumi (graduate student at the Graduate School of Core Ethics and Frontier Sciences of Ritsumeikan University)