Friday, April 24, 2009

Osaka Deaf Pantomime Group at Gallaudet


If you happen to find yourself in the Washington D.C. area over Golden Week, you might want to check out the free performance of the Osaka Pantomime Group at Gallaudet University (link).

If the images at the bottom of the poster look familiar, you most likely remember a past post about this group here at VAOJ.

This might be a good time to remind readers that this blog, while supporting the spirit of Fair Use, is still registered under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-Share Alike 3.0 Unported License.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

"Shooting Culture" Project - Ethics of Visual Anthropology in Japan


It's been a while since I have posted on the ethics project, but rest assured it is ongoing. I have received many positive comments about previous posts and I hope to get more feedback when I present this project at the upcoming Anthropology of Japan in Japan Spring Workshop on April 25-26. For the purposes of this presentation I have named this named this project "Shooting Culture."

Presentation title and abstract:

Shooting Culture: Proposed Guidelines for Students of the Visual Anthropology of Japan

As part of the Visual Anthropology of Japan course I teach, I send my students out to photograph "Japanese culture." Students are to take their own original photographs to illustrate a weekly theme and post photos along with text on an internet blog. While there has never been a problem with the assignment, students have expressed concern about taking photographs in public. Aren't all shots taken in public fair game? Do we need to ask permission? Do we need a written consent form? Can we snipe photos from afar with our telephoto lens? Can we blur out the faces of individuals we shoot to protect their privacy? In this paper I propose a set of guidelines for students of visual anthropology engaged in photographing Japan, not as a prime directive but rather as a starting point for dialogue and development. Issues of concern brought up in this project include privacy and portrait rights; academic codes of ethics and conduct and photo posting guidelines; regulations pertaining to terms of service of internet blogging and photo/video posting services; information about Fair Use and Creative Commons; and laws in Japan pertaining to photographing in public, privacy and defamation. In this AJJ presentation I wish to solicit the advice and comments of anthropologists who have experience with visual projects in Japan. For more information on this project, see http://visualanthropologyofjapan.blogspot.com/.


In addition there have been some interesting developments relating to this project in both legal and research areas. First the good news:

"Japan may adopt so-called 'fair use' in secondary use of copyrighted work"

Story from Breitbart.com, 3/24/09.

The Cultural Affairs Agency on Wednesday asked its advisory body to study a proposal for Japan to adopt the so-called "fair use" principle, which allows limited use of copyrighted material without requiring the right holder's permission for the promotion of secondary use of such material, agency officials said.

The Cultural Council, an advisory body to the agency director general, plans to work out views on the proposal by the end of fiscal 2009, which the agency wants to lead to the revision of the copyright law, the officials said.

The government is also expected to propose an early introduction of the principle in an intellectual property strategy it plans to formulate around June.

At present, the copyright law bans in principle the reproduction of copyrighted material without the right owner's permission. This means that even posting a picture of an anime character taken at an amusement park on an Internet blog, for example, is technically prohibited.

The latest move is in response to a call from the government's intellectual property strategy headquarters for relaxing such regulations in line with the spread of the Internet.

The "fair use" principle, which originated in the United States, would allow reproduction of copyrighted material such as photos and writing work without seeking the author's permission as long as the secondary use does not harm the author's interests.

Under the principle, people can judge on their own whether a secondary use of certain copyrighted material is illegal or not based on a set of standards being introduced to measure possible negative effects of such use on the right-holder's market.

Among these standards will be whether secondary use is for commercial purposes and whether such use will lead to the spread of pirated versions of the original work, the officials said.



For every one step forward there is at least one step backward.

"TBS ordered to pay Y1.2 million for invading man's privacy"

Story from Japan Today, 4/15/09.

The Tokyo District Court on Tuesday ordered Tokyo Broadcasting System to pay a man 1.2 million yen in compensation for invading his privacy by airing images of him during live TV coverage of a homicide scene in Tokyo two years ago. The court ruled that broadcasting images of the plaintiff, who drives a garbage collection truck, without his permission constituted an invasion of privacy and violated his portrait rights.

Presiding Judge Noriaki Sudo said in holding TBS liable for compensation, ‘‘The production staff who gave orders to the camera crew and edited the footage were negligent.’’ The court said that children teased the plaintiff’s son at school, saying his father had carried the victim’s body, and the boy was forced to change schools.

According to the ruling, in January 2007 TBS broadcast the face of the plaintiff who was collecting garbage at the murder site in Shibuya Ward where a man was murdered and dismembered by his wife, as well as the plaintiff’s exchange with a reporter, in its morning program hosted by popular MC Monta Mino.

The plaintiff had sought a total of 11 million yen in compensation from the TV station, Mino and other concerned parties. But the court ruled Mino was not responsible because he had no authority over the news gathering activities at the scene.



As if anticipating the ruling above in the current culture of extreme paranoid privacy, the Nihon Shinbun Kyokai (Japan Newspapers Publishers and Editors Association) recently met with government officials to encourage changes in the current Personal Information Protection Law.

"NSK Seeks Prompt Revision of Personal Information Protection Law"

Story from NSK News Bulletin Online, Number 90, April 2009.

The NSK Editorial Affairs Committee, in a hearing held by the Cabinet Office on March 27, demanded that the Personal Information Protection Law be promptly revised to eliminate abuse of the law and the deliberate concealment of information under the cloak of its terms.

The controversial law took effect in April 2005, setting rules on the use of personal information possessed by private businesses. In fear of excessive secrecy due to the law and the deliberate concealment of information by public institutions, NSK has publicly called several times for the law to be changed.

On March 27, Toyokazu Kondo, of the NSK Editorial Affairs Committee study group on human rights and personal information, attended a hearing held by the personal information protection committee of the Cabinet Office’s Social Policy Council. The committee is in the process of studying the implementation of the law.

In a verbal presentation and written submission made at the hearing, Kondo warned that there is now a conspicuous tendency at all levels of society toward refusing to release information on the pretext of the personal information protection law. Specifically, he referred to (1) a tendency of public institutions to use the law to justify concealing information; (2) growing refusals to grant media access to information on the grounds of personal information protection; and (3) a steadily declining awareness of the importance of the common sharing of personal information by society.

Kondo submitted to the hearing a brief report on a fact-finding survey conducted by the NSK Editorial Affairs Committee. The report said a survey of 58 NSK member media companies looked into adverse repercussions from the law’s application. The report cited numerous cases in which hospitals refused to release the identities and/or profiles of persons harmed as a result of criminal offenses or accidents, as well as cases in which university authorities refused to respond to media inquiries regarding the educational backgrounds of candidates running for public offices. Kondo told the hearing that these are typical cases of the law’s negative effects in which information that should be shared by society is not being made available.

Kondo emphasized NSK’s stand that a full-fledged review of the existing law is needed to implement fundamental solutions to the problems. “We should specifically limit the sphere of the law’s application and incorporate into the law specific calls to respect the social usefulness of personal information, in particular, to respect the use of personal information for the public good of serving the people’s right to know,” he stated.

Specifically, he proposed that a clause be added to Article 1 (the purpose of the law) and to Article 3 (the law’s basic objectives) calling for particular consideration to be made with respect to the usefulness of personal information in activities such as news reporting, which serves the public good and public interest. In addition, he proposed that the transfer to media organizations of personal information by businesses possessing such information be established as an approved exception to regulations under the law’s Article 16 (regulations on the provision of personal data to a third party) and Article 23 (exceptions).

Kondo also called for the inclusion of such a clause in a related law covering the protection of personal information by administrative organizations. He said that the Information Disclosure Law, enacted in 2001 to regulate public disclosure of information held by administrative organizations, and local government rules on information disclosure should be reviewed to take into account NSK’s insistence on these issues as well. He ended his presentation with a call for the committee to open full-scale deliberations toward a prompt and fundamental revision of Japan’s entire system for personal information protection.



In the midst of all this confusion regarding privacy and portrait rights, the North American Coordinating Council on Japanese Library Resources (NCC) Image Use Protocol Task Force has published an extremely valuable web page.

IMAGE USE PROTOCOL GUIDE. Using Images from Japan for your publication. You can find out what to do here.

Link: http://www.fas.harvard.edu/~ncc/imageuse/index.html

From their Introduction:

This web site is designed to give basic guidance to North American Japanese studies scholars who seek permissions for the use of Japanese images particularly in scholarly publications. By clicking the links below, you will access information that may smooth the process of obtaining the necessary permission to use images from those who hold image rights. We have included links to Japanese and American web sites that provide guidelines to American copyright practices governing the use of Japanese images in a range of circumstances from publications to presentations. Sometimes figuring out exactly which person or organization holds the rights to an image is tricky. We have provided suggestions for who might be the likely rights holder in a range of image types and uses. We also offer templates of request letters and permission applications modeled after those used by a number of Japanese institutions. They are bilingual (Japanese and English) in order to meet the needs of North American publishers and Japanese right holders. You may freely adapt these to your own needs when requesting permission for image use. We also offer a few suggestions about how you might speed the movement of your permission request through a Japanese organization.

The Right's Holders section
discusses copyright holders, owners of objects, image owners and subjects in photographs. For the latter they state:

If a person is in the photograph, it is necessary for you to obtain the permission of the photographed person, or the successor or assignee of such rights, to avoid an infringement of the right of likeness or privacy under the privacy laws and/or right of likeness.

The Permission Request Templates (in English and Japanese) are especially valuable.

There are lots of useful links; of special interest for this project is the link to Japanese Copyright Laws (in English).

Link to Copyright Law of Japan:
http://www.cric.or.jp/cric_e/clj/index.html


NCC is mostly interested in publishing images in books and journals; I am not sure if they are considering internet blog projects like this one. I will be checking out NCC and the Japanese copyright laws in greater detail before my presentation. Stay tuned for more updates.

Monday, April 13, 2009

Homogenous Japan? There are at least 51 stereotypes...

(Image borrowed from Kick Style.)

...and there are still some missing. How about a Hanshin Tigers fan and a visual kei figure? Anyway, Peter Machat has created 51 Japanese figurines. And we thought they were all one...

Link to 51 Japanese Characters:
http://www.51japanesecharacters.com/


Once you get into the site, you can click and create 100,000 different characters through mixing and matching. Have fun. And ponder Japanese individuality.

Sunday, April 12, 2009

"Act of defiance preserved Japanese-American story"

(Image borrowed from Julian Ayers.)

When legendary Japanese-American photographer Toyo Miyatake was sent to a California internment camp with his wife and children during World War II, he smuggled a collection of camera parts in with him.

It was a small act of defiance that would leave a big legacy.

Inside, he built a makeshift camera with another imprisoned Japanese-American by connecting the lens to a drainpipe. Using film secretly delivered by Americans outside the camp, he took hundreds of photographs documenting the experiences of Japanese-Americans relocated to the internment camp following Japan's Dec. 7, 1941, attack on Pearl Harbor.

As the number of surviving former internees dwindles, the photos have become a crucial historical record of a dark chapter in U.S. history.

So as not to forget the conditions they endured, a documentary film about Miyatake will be released and an exhibition of his photos held in Japan this year, the 30th anniversary of his death in 1979.


...

The documentary film will be shown in the hall of the Tokyo Metropolitan Museum of Photography from April 11. The photo exhibition will open April 16.

Read the whole story at Asahi.com:
http://www.asahi.com/english/Herald-asahi/TKY200904040050.html


For more information about the film, including a trailer, and examples of Miyatake's work, see the website below.

Link to Toyo's Camera (in English and Japanese):
http://www.toyoscamera.com/


Special thanks to Myra in the VAOJ Honolulu office for the heads up on this subject.

Friday, April 10, 2009

Performing Naturalness: A film by Dada Docot...



My friend Dada from Here, there and somewhere else, sent me information about her new film. I really like it a lot as it brings up many important and interesting issues in a very short amount of time. We will be talking about immigration and foreigners living in Japan in Globalization class soon and I hope to use the video as part of my lecture.

My only critique is that some of the captions are difficult to read. Dada has mentioned that others have said the same and she is working to fix this problem.

Information from the YouTube page:

YouTube: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iQiTIWKz7NI

Title: Performing Naturalness
Duration: 3min
Director/Editor/Actress: Ma. Ledda Brina "Dada" Docot
Cameraworks: Jong Pairez
Effects: Mike Garcia
Music: Fabien Claudel, Zikweb

Synopsis:

Living for about four years in Japan, one Filipina has grown quite tired of the "random" questioning of immigration police who inquire about her visa status. One day, she gets off at the Shinagawa train station (the stop closest to city's busiest immigration office) to try a little social experiment.

A part of a series of work on space occupied during mobility, the short film documents an instance of surveillance of foreigners in nothing but an ordinary day in Japan. It emphasizes that the everyday life of a migrant IS a performance. The foreign space accommodates or rejects, and as the "visitor," you "perform" roles so that the space receives you (well).

Festivals/Exhibits:
- ALAB: Ten Best Student Shorts, ACTIVE VISTA FILM FESTIVAL, Robinsons Galleria IndieSine, November 29, 2008.
- In Competition, Documentary Category, 20th GAWAD CCP PARA SA ALTERNIBONG PELIKULA AT VIDEO, for screening on Nov. 21, 2008
- Installation Piece for the exhibit "DISLOCATED JOINTS," Poetry in the Kitchen, Tokyo Japan, March 2008 (Using the version edited by Jong Pairez)


I asked Dada a few questions about her film and she was most generous with her answers:

Performing Naturalness was filmed guerrilla style. I thought that the immigration police in their civilian outfit do the same to us foreigners -- the shooting style somewhat replicated what they do in a surveillance society. I was quite surprised though that they did not seem to bother when they saw my friend with the 8mm camera. They asked about it and I simply replied that it is for an art project. They did not seem to mind and in fact they smiled. Whenever I get approached by the police, I always show them both my gaijin and Tokyo University ID cards. I guess the police did not bother to ask anymore when they saw my Todai card. My student card was quite powerful, I guess.

Perhaps you have also noticed that the Japanese faces were all blurred. The cameraman and I had a sort of a disagreement whether the faces should be concealed or not. I decided to conceal their faces -- exposing them in a video without their permission, I thought, would be too much. I felt I still had to respect their privacy, even if I also violate mine whenever they inquire about my identity as a foreigner.

Others who have seen the film said it was quite interesting. Foreigner friends in Japan could relate to the isolation of the character in the film. But of course we do not have the same experiences. Caucasian friends felt lucky that they were asked only once, or never.

About the style, the film is only 3 minutes because we used an 8mm camera. The "experiment" had a time limit as one roll of an 8mm film is only 3 minutes. I really intended to do this experiment only once (partly because it is expensive). Good thing my experiment succeeded. The footage was actually less than 3 minutes, some of the scenes shot by the cameraman were not used. I just wanted to emphasize my message of isolation, and I thought it worked by stretching the last scene using slow motion or repeating some frames.


I think Dada is an extremely gifted filmmaker and visual anthropologist. I understand she has won awards in the Philippines for her work and that Performing Naturalness will be screened at a film festival in New York. I look forward to her future work. If you want to see more of Dada, check out the preview to RESTLESS.

Link to Baad ng Pauno (RESTLESS)
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CLnOkP9t3Wg

Thursday, April 9, 2009

Beauty in Contemporary Japan: Body/Comm Spring 2009 Workshop

This semester we once again explore the concept of ideal beauty in contemporary Japan. What characteristics are necessary to be considered beautiful? What do Japanese people do to become beautiful? These were the themes of this semester's poster workshop. Check out the posters below, as well as the students themselves, for some ideal Japanese beauty.








Common themes included youth, cuteness, big eyes, shapely legs, large (but not too large) breasts, good proportions, dyed hair, light skin and proper accessories. Is there anything missing from the list? What would you add?

Click here to see photos from previous semesters' workshops.

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Spring 2009 Globalization Kobe Fieldtrip

video

Another new semester, another Globalization class fieldtrip to Kobe. Kobe never gets old and students make new and different discoveries of globalization in this wonderful city. Check out the pictures below to see a sample of what this semester's participating students experienced.

video

Photos and captions by Étienne:

Is that the Québec flag?

Some Japanized "Parisian-style" set

Greek clothes shop

Is that a Dutch windmill?

Reminds me my family summer trips to New England's seaside!

American jazz

Some American hippie culture?

A shop with a French-sounding name

Chinatown!

Cowboys and Indians!


Photos from Yurika:

Kitano area.

Kitano area.

Kitano area.


Photos and captions by Steven:

Introducing students to the Lock Up (It's a prison themed izakaya).

Kobe style!

This is how the Globalization prof would like to spend his retirement days...

Where else but in Kobe could you buy fruit directly from the Womb?

The Bruce Lee shop in Chinatown is always a must to visit...

...this time they were selling breasts, 395 yen each (apparently no discount by the pair).

Another perfect example of globalization/glocalization: introducing the Kobe Burger!

Former students who happened to be in Kobe on the same day.


Photo and caption by Angelica:

"I scream, you scream, we all scream for...globalization!"

Yes, another fun and successful trip to Kobe.

For pictures of previous Globalization class fieldtrips, click here.

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

"Human-looking robot smiles in Japan classroom"


More on robots taking over Japan... Story (and photo) from Japan Today, 4/7/09:

Japan’s robot teacher calls roll, smiles and scolds, drawing laughter from students with her eerily lifelike face. But the developer says it’s not about to replace human instructors.

Unlike more mechanical-looking robots like Honda Motor Co’s Asimo, the robot teacher, called Saya, can express six basic emotions—surprise, fear, disgust, anger, happiness, sadness—because its rubber skin is being pulled from the back with motors and wiring around the eyes and the mouth.

In a demonstration, the robot’s mouth popped open, its eyes widened and eyebrows arched to appear surprised. Saya pulled back on its lips to make a smile, and said simple pre-programmed phrases such as “Thank you,” while its lips moved, to express pleasure.

“Robots that look human tend to be a big hit with young children and the elderly,” Hiroshi Kobayashi, Tokyo University of Science professor and Saya’s developer, said. “Children even start crying when they are scolded.”

First developed as a receptionist robot in 2004, Saya was tested in a real Tokyo classroom earlier this year with a handful of fifth and sixth graders, although it still can’t do much more than call roll and shout orders like “Be quiet.”

The children had great fun, Kobayashi recalled, tickled when it called out their names. Still, it’s just remote-controlled by a human watching the interaction through cameras, he said.

Japan and other nations are hopeful robotics will provide a solution for their growing labor shortage problem as populations age. But scientists express concern about using a machine to take care of children and the elderly.

Ronald C Arkin, professor at the Georgia Institute of Technology, said more research in human-robot interaction is needed before overly relying on robots.

“Simply turning our grandparents over to teams of robots abrogates our society’s responsibility to each other, and encourages a loss of touch with reality for this already mentally and physically challenged population,” he said.

Noel Sharkey, robotics expert and professor at the University of Sheffield, believes robots can serve as an educational aid in inspiring interest in science, but they can’t replace humans.

“It would be delusional to think that such robots could replace a human teacher,” he said. “Leading scientists, engineers and mathematicians, almost without exception, talk about that one teacher who inspired them. A robot cannot be that kind of inspirational role model.”

Kobayashi says Saya is just meant to help people and warns against getting hopes up too high for its possibilities.

“The robot has no intelligence. It has no ability to learn. It has no identity,” he said. “It is just a tool.”

But would he create a robot in human form, say, a fantasy friend with movie-star looks?

“Sure,” he says, “If you’re willing to pay.”

That made-to-order robot will cost about 5 million yen, he said.

"School for the deaf seeks funds to set up middle school division"

From The Daily Yomiuri Online, 4/7/09:

Meisei Gakuen--the first school for hearing-impaired children to conduct its classes entirely in Japanese Sign Language--has been raising money to establish a middle school division, which would allow its students to complete their compulsory education without changing schools.

Meisei Gakuen, located in Shinagawa Ward, Tokyo, opened last April after receiving accreditation from the metropolitan government. The accreditation came after the central government designated the capital a deregulated structural reform zone.

Families with deaf children had long fought for the creation of a school that would conduct its classes in the sign language they use at home. Traditionally, schools for the hearing-impaired have not used sign language, instead opting to teach lip-reading and approximated speech with the help of hearing aids.

However, this approach often can prove confusing to hearing-impaired children. One classic example is that of the lip movements for "tamago" and "tabako." Though our mouths move in the same way when pronouncing these words, their meanings are completely different--egg and tobacco, respectively.

When children are taught only to communicate through approximated sounds and lip-reading, they often find it difficult to understand what they are being taught, and spend most of their time trying to keep up with what the teacher is saying.

At Meisei Gakuen this year, there are 15 preschoolers and 28 in grade school, seven of whom are in their final year of primary school.

To apply for the establishment of a middle school division, the school must have enough capital to operate for three years, according to metropolitan government regulations. If the school wishes to begin middle school classes by next school year, it must apply by June this year. To do so, it must raise another 30 million yen.

One supporter has been the Japan East Rugby Football Union. When the final game of the All-Japan Championship was held at the end of February, players from Eastern Quiet Typhoon, a deaf rugby team, joined a group of Meisei Gakuen students to distribute leaflets soliciting contributions.

"We're completely behind the school," 24-year-old player Kosei Samejima said.

"It's hard to study under the lip-reading approach," said Keijun Sasaki, one of the school's sixth-graders. "I really hope we get a middle school."

"I have a much easier time talking with my friends in sign language," said Sasaki's classmate, Nanami Miyasaka. "I want to study with them in middle school, too."


For more on Meisei Gakuen, click here and here.

Asian Women's Film Festival, Berlin, October 2009

From H-Asia:

The 1st Asian Women's Film Festival was successfully launched in October 2007 at the Cinema Arsenal, Berlin. More than 40 films representing diverse genres from Korea, Japan, China, Taiwan, Vietnam, Malaysia and Hong Kong were screened. International guests attended the festival which also encompassed Q&A sessions, a symposium "The Women's Survival Guide to Filmmaking in Asia", and networking activities. The festival is scheduled to be held once every two years.

The AWFF welcomes film and video works directed, written, shot, edited and produced by Asian women. We are looking for works which question and challenge rules of normalcy regarding gender and ethnicity. The 2009 program will be divided into five sections: *New Currents, Asian-Diaspora, Short Films, Experimental and Documentary*.

Does it all have to be about identity politics? While this issue does play a significant role in our program, it is really not intended to be an exclusive criterion for selection. Rather, the festival is conceived as a platform where categories, genres and subjects themselves can be proposed, opposed, declined and negotiated; different ways of re/presentation performed.


For more information:
http://www.asianwomensfilm.de/2009/

Monday, April 6, 2009

Another Photographer Assaulted...

From Japan Today, 4/6/09:

Noriaki Endo, 37, an apparel company president and husband of actress Sakura Uehara, 32, was arrested Saturday for punching a male cameraman, 45, who works for a women’s magazine. On Sunday, Uehara apologized for the incident on her blog, writing that “We sincerely apologize for causing so much trouble to that man. I’m really, really sorry.”

According to Akasaka police, Endo was attending a wedding party for producer Masato Ochi, 43, and actress Chieko Ochi, 22, when trouble erupted during a media photo shoot. Endo reportedly punched the cameraman in the stomach, leaving injuries that will take several days to heal. Police have charged Endo with assault.

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

"Assistance for deaf students at universities spreading"

Article from today's Japan Today:

Unfortunately the headline of this article is more optimistic than the reality of the situation. But read on anyway...

The number of universities assisting deaf students in Japan is increasing, with some taking such measures as using personal computers to project in words the contents of classroom lectures.

But as such assistance and methods are up to each university, the burden on students and their families is sometimes heavy, and one expert said "public assistance is necessary" to guarantee study opportunities for such students.

Gunma University, with campuses in Maebashi and Kiryu, has four students with aural impairments, and prepares screens in their classes on which the lectures of professors are displayed via a notebook computer tie-up between students and school staff who type in the words.

There are also three staff members specializing in sign language interpretation at the university to meet the need for speedy discussions.

Takayuki Morita, 22, a junior majoring in education who has hearing difficulties, said, "In high school I managed to study by myself, but I could not follow lectures at university without assistance."

But generous assistance such as at Gunma University is rare. A 19-year-old male student with serious aural impairment wanted to study agriculture after graduating from a special assistance school, but many universities did not allow him to take their entrance exam, saying it would be impossible for him to graduate due to his hearing impediment.

But in 2007 he was offered a place at a private university in the Kansai region of western Japan which accepts students with such impairments and had an official sent by the government to help summarize lectures.

Immediately before his enrollment, however, the university sent him a notice, saying, "The government has stopped sending an official. The faculty is unable to assist you."

The university hastily tried to recruit a volunteer but without success, and as a result his mother accompanied him to the university for about one year to act a sign language interpreter in class. "We want them to consider the situation from our point of view," she said.

According to a survey by the Japan Student Services Organization of Tokyo, there are some 1,200 students with aural impairments enrolled at about 30% of the universities across the country.

Seventy percent of these institutions offer assistance of some sort to such students, though this is chiefly "note taking" in which another student sits next to the impaired student and jots down the contents of lectures.

Many universities also start to set up a help system after they accept such impaired students, but it is difficult for them to gather the 20 supporters said to be required for each disabled student.

Even if supporters are sent from local governments and sign language circles, only a few of them are capable of dealing with the contents of specialized lecturers.

The central government is extending a subsidy of 330,000 yen to each impaired student at state-run universities and a subsidy of 1.5 million yen to up to five such students at each private university, but these sums are only just enough to cover the rewards for supporters.

Mayumi Shirasawa, an associate professor at the Tsukuba University of Technology, said, "Whether impaired students can study is currently determined by the universities’ own measures. It is necessary for the state to extend support to help secure specialist staff."


There are no deaf students at my university so I cannot comment on the situation here. What about at your own universities? Are there any deaf students? Do they have interpreters, note takers and/or any other kind of assistance?