DSQ > Summer 2008, Volume 28, No.3


The Japanese government proudly inaugurated a new system, Special Support Education, sometimes translated as Special Needs Education (both Tokubetu shien kyoiku in Japanese), as an official policy for the education of children with disabilities in April 2007. This policy is guided by the basic concept that "[i]n line with the government policy for enhancing Normalization in our society, a lifelong support system shall be developed through co-operation among every sector in society to promote children's autonomy and participation in all aspects of society" (MEXT, 2002a, p. 3). Based on an idea that special education services should "provide necessary educational support according to students' individual needs that are understood from the perspectives of students themselves" (MEXT, 2003), the Special Support Education claims to be "a primary catalyst for the progress toward an equal opportunity society for all children including individuals with disabilities" (MEXT, 2002a, p. 2).

Despite those hopeful words that describe Special Support Education, I suspect a serious problem will arise in this new system of special education. To consider the problem, I examine important but often overlooked social contexts surrounding the emergence of Special Support Education. To begin with, I would like to review briefly the modern history of special education in Japan as a background for discussing the present situation.

Brief History of Special Education in Modern Japan

As traditional Japanese culture strongly emphasizes family self-sufficiency and expects every family to look after its members on its own, there had been no public services for people with disabilities available to those in need prior to the Second World War. In regards to education, the postwar Japanese government promulgated the Fundamental Law of Education (kyōiku kihon hō) in 1947 under the influence of the new, U.S.-led democratization policy. The law guaranteed a nine-year compulsory and free education to all children based on the principle of equal educational opportunity, thus establishing special schools for children with disabilities. The law, however, turned out to be a form of tokenism: Special schools were available only to children with mild disabilities who were regarded "educable" enough to contribute to the economic revival of Japan. The other children with significant disabilities were left outside the umbrella of national education, and their rights to education were simply abandoned. The Japanese government defensively calls such exclusion "an exemption from attending schools" (shugaku menjo) (Hori, 1998).

During the mid 1950s through the early 1970s, Japan experienced an economic boom. While the living standards of the average Japanese citizen improved, the rapid industrialization and urbanization caused an increase of nuclear families. As more families became unable to care for their children with disabilities, a group of parents requested the government to build more residential institutions. Regardless of parents' intentions, such an appeal gave permission to the government and society to segregate and institutionalize adults and children with disabilities (Asaka, Okahara, Onaka, and Tateiwa, 1995).

Meanwhile, the development of modern special education pressured the Japanese government to reconsider its policy and to ensure the educational rights of children with severe disabilities who had been excluded from educational opportunities. Thus, the government announced the extension of compulsory education—or more precisely, the extension of compulsory special education (yōgogakō gimuka) —in 1971. Although it did have a "bright side," the extension triggered a heated controversy, as it obliged all children with disabilities to attend special schools, not regular schools. Members of the disability rights movement held campaigns throughout the country (Kawano, 2007) criticizing this extension, saying that disallowing children with disabilities to attend regular schools would further aggravate discrimination. Nevertheless, the compulsory special education system became a law in 1979. Since then, the Japanese government has not changed its segregative policy on the education of children with disabilities, even after it signed the UN Salamanca Statement in 1994.

The landscape of Japanese special education began to change in the late 1990s as more children with disabilities had managed to enter regular schools as "exceptions." Propelled by the de facto increase of children with disabilities in regular schools, the government installed the resource rooms (tsukyu) system in 1993. Combined with separate special classes (tokushu gakyu) that had already been established within some of the regular schools, resource rooms provided additional space to teach children with disabilities within regular education settings.

Rise of the New System: Special Support Education

In 2001, an advisory committee on "Future Directions for Special Education in the 21st Century" established by the Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology (MEXT) submitted a report in which it highlighted a need to expand the special education system to include underserved "children with special educational needs" who had been ineligible for special education services, and (therefore) had been studying in regular classrooms. As a follow-up to the report, another advisory committee on the "National Agenda for Special Support Education" was established by the MEXT, which published a final report Special Support Education in the Future in 2003. In the report, the committee proposed the following definition of Special Support Education:

Special Support Education serves not only children with disabilities who have already been eligible for special education but also those who have other disabilities, such as Learning Disability (LD), Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD), and high functioning autism. Toward the goal of independence and social participation, it provides those children with necessary support through proper education and instruction, assesses their individual educational needs and cultivates their abilities so as to enable them to improve or overcome their difficulties in daily activities and learning (MEXT, 2003).

The report also claimed that Special Support Education represented a paradigm shift from the old special education, which had "provided special education in a special place according to the types or severity of students' disabilities" (MEXT, 2003, emphasis added). In contrast, the report emphasized that Special Support Education would provide "appropriate educational support based on students' individual education needs" (MEXT, 2003, emphasis added), implying that it would finally reconsider and change the segregative policy of Japan's special education.

In 2005, MEXT established another ad hoc committee, which published a report in the same year on the strategic planning to transition to and promote Special Support Education as the country's official special education policy. The next year, the amendment of the School Education Law was issued to give legal status to Special Support Education. The new system was inaugurated in April 2007. Under the new system, "children with special education needs" mentioned in the above reports, such as children with LD, ADHD, and high functioning autism, are now officially eligible to receive special education services and are labeled with a legal categorization of "developmental disabilities," which is defined by the People with Developmental Disabilities Support Act (hatatsushōgaisha shien hō) established in 2004 as "autism, Asperger syndrome or other pervasive development disorder, learning disability, hyperactivity disorder and similar brain disorders which are discovered in early age." The School Education Law adopts this definition.

The promising sounds of Special Support Education have attracted parents and teachers of children with disabilities who were concerned about the limitations of the traditional special education system. For example, a newspaper article titled "Despite deregulation, it is still a long way: Enrolment of children with disability in regular class (Kijunkanwa demo michinori tōku: Shōgai no aru ko no futsūgakyu nyugaku)" included the voice of a mother who wished for a special education system that was flexible enough to meet children's needs: "I feel sad at knowing that local government and school cannot do better under the present system [of special education] which commands children with disabilities to study either in special school or special class [in a regular school]" ("Kijunkanwa," 2000). In addition, Special Support Education was perceived as hopeful by the parents who wanted schools to give attention to their children's educational needs that had not been met within regular educational framework. The following excerpt from a newspaper article, "Immediate action for children needing support (Enjo ga hitsuyōna ko tedate sōkyū ni)" provides an example:

I have heard that MEXT is now working toward putting Special Support Education into operation. It is said that if executed well, Special Support Education will reach and support children with developmental disabilities who are not able to adapt to regular classes but left without support because they do not qualify for special education service. I wish from the bottom of my heart that society and schools promote a better understanding and actualize the system as soon as possible, in which the children receive proper assistance. ("Enjo," 2003)

Seminars on Special Support Education are crowded with enthusiastic parents and teachers, and a profitable spin-off book market has now emerged with such lineup as Brightness Max! Special Support Education for Enhancing All Children (Shinagawa, 2007), Start Creating a Joyful School Life with Special Support Education (Tsujii, 2007) and other similarly optimistic books.

However, Special Support Education does not seem to have resulted in the significant paradigm shift that the government claimed it would. For instance, it still preserves special schools, which are only renamed as "Special Support School" by discarding previous categorization by disability types (visual, hearing, physical, etc.), and supposedly following Special Support Education's vision to provide services beyond disability categories. In an English-written report that introduced Special Support Education before its finalization, MEXT explained that "[e]ven a child that has a profound and intellectual disability or multiple disabilities, he/she is eligible for our school system. Such children, according to their needs, shall be educated in one of the special schools" (MEXT, 2002a, p.3, emphasis added). Besides, the School Education Law clearly determines that children with disabilities shall not be accepted in regular schools except those for whom the board of education approves that there is an "exceptional reason" to permit the child's enrollment to a regular school (Article 5 of School Education Law Enforcement Ordinance).

Having explained that the government's hopeful message that the newly installed Special Support Education shall be "a primary catalyst for the progress toward an equal opportunity society for all children including individuals with disabilities" (MEXT, 2002a, p. 2) does not sound convincing, I would like to attempt a critical reading of governmental and societal motivations that called for such a new system.

Fear of Juvenile Crime and Misconception of Developmental Disabilities

In the discourse related to Special Support Education, "developmental disabilities," which was given legal status as an official category in the new system, have been paid so much attention that people tend to think that Special Support Education is only about teaching children with developmental disabilities (Higuchi, 2007). Such an increased attention on "developmental disabilities" coincided with a string of news that involved people reported to have developmental disabilities.

Just before the introduction of Special Support Education, successive reports of juvenile crimes greatly shook Japanese people's sense of security. The first case was the 1997 murder of a schoolboy in Kobe, a city in Hyogo Prefecture. The details of the case shocked the country: The murderer had beheaded the victim and later sent a letter to the media claiming responsibility and calling the murder a "game." People were further astounded when the police discovered that the perpetrator was a 14-year-old junior high school student. The young boy was later diagnosed with a "conduct disorder." Joie Chen (1997), an international reporter for CNN, captured the unparalleled shock among Japanese people: "It is a crime that has staggered and stunned Japan. …For this ancient society unaccustomed to such random violence, this crime has come to represent an innocence lost for all."

While the aftershock of the murder case in Kobe still lingered, another crime occurred in 1998 that involved a young boy. In Kuroiso, a city in Tochigi Prefecture, a 13-year-old junior high school student stabbed his teacher inside the school building. This case attracted a great deal of attention because the student was a "good kid" who had never made any trouble. The media suspected that the student must have had a hidden "mental problem" and lost control when reprimanded by his schoolteacher. It was described in the media that the boy had "snapped" (kieru shōnen, literally "a boy whose mental fuse snapped"). Then in 2000, a 17-year-old, academically well-performing high school student in Toyokawa, a city in Aichi Prefecture, killed a housewife and later explained his motive as "wanting to experience the act of killing someone" ("Seiseki yūshū," 2000). The media reported and sensationalized the fact that the student was diagnosed with Asperger syndrome through psychiatric testing (Nozawa and Kitamura, 2006). The case stunned the nation with the sheer senselessness of the motive and consequently made "Asperger syndrome" a household phrase. Following the Toyokawa case, a 12-year-old junior high school student kidnapped and murdered a boy in Nagasaki, a city in Nagasaki Prefecture, in 2003. Various newspapers erroneously reported the results of the student's psychiatric test, claiming he was diagnosed with pervasive developmental disorder to Asperger syndrome to autism. The media's inaccuracy concerning developmental disabilities became obvious and unnervingly misleading (Nozawa and Kitamura, 2006).

In the wake of these incidents, the public's nervousness was amplified. A public-opinion poll showed a remarkable rise in the opinion that the country's public security was worsening, jumping from the 18.8% in 1998 to 47.9% in 2005 (Cabinet Office, 1998, 2005). With regard to juvenile crimes in particular, a Yomiuri newspaper article reported that a questionnaire survey that they conducted on 3,000 electors found that 92% of the respondents expressed their feelings of insecurity about juveniles committing heinous crimes increasing ("Kyŋakuka suru shōnenhanzai" [Brutalization of the juvenile crime], 1997). Amid the hype, the media also helped shape the general public's misconception of "developmental disabilities." People tended to see children with developmental disability labels as "dangerous" or having "antisocial" dispositions, and believing they could at any time commit crimes (Nozawa and Kitamura, 2006: Takaoka, 2007). Anxious about the repercussions, the Autism Society of Japan was urged to issue Autism Media Guide: To the Press to request fairness and sensibility from the media (Autism Society Japan, 2005).

Contrary to the image implanted in the mind of general public, the statistics show a decrease in crimes, including juvenile crimes, in recent years (Hamai and Serizawa, 2006). Moreover, there is an argument that there have been similarly "senseless" and "bizarre" juvenile crimes in the past 50 years, and that it was the way people reacted to those crime cases that became fundamentally different (Serizawa, 2006). Kazuya Serizawa, a scholar of the history of modern Japanese thought, warns that this indicates a fundamental shift in societal perceptions:

The society that protects a juvenile delinquent came to an end. The idea about youth being educational subject had been created by modern society in a long period of time. If this idea was thrown into question, or the perception regarding this idea changed, it indicates that society itself faced an age of transition. (Serizawa, 2006: p. 94-5)

Growing Sense of Personal Insecurity and Rise of Surveillance

Jean-François Lyotard, a forerunner of postmodern theory, noted the epochal shift that took place in contemporary society during the 1960s and 1970s. The most important characteristic, he claimed, was increased incredulity towards the meta-narrative. Lyotard (1987) argued that progress, reason, productivity, thrift, and other modernist values were increasingly regarded with doubt by people living in contemporary societies as being suspiciously absolute truths. Subsequently, these values have lost their authority to direct people.

Similarly, Hiroki Azuma, a Japanese cultural critic, explains that, in the case of Japan, the validity of the meta-narrative has decreased since the 1970s, and as a result there has been a gradual shift toward a culturally pluralistic society, which tolerates, at least superficially, diversity among its members (2002). At the same time, according to Azuma, the void of consensus among society members has provoked people to feel uncertain and suspicious of others. He describes this as an "anxiety whereby we are uncertain when and who may threaten our life; what is more, such a dangerous person could be our neighbor" (2007, p. 12). This anxiety, stirred further by media attention to such uneasy news as stalking, religious cults, foreign gangs, and those juvenile crimes discussed avove, instigated the feeling of insecurity and promoted a new public image of "the deterioration of the public order" (Hamai and Serizawa, 2006).

Until recently, Japanese society relied on discipline to maintain social order (Horne, 2000), as have other modern industrialized countries (Foucault, 1995; Turner, 1996; Sullivan, 2005). According to Foucault (1995), in modern institutions such as prisons, schools, hospitals, factories and military camps, disciplinary practices have been used to turn a "deviant" person into a "docile" person who abides by the social norm. Discipline can therefore be described as "a policy of coercions that act upon the body, a calculated manipulation of its elements, its gestures, its behaviors" (Foucault, 1995, p. 138). The overzealous training provided at special schools can also be characterized as discipline enforcing docility upon children with disabilities. Kōji Ogami, a graduate of such a school, describes his experience of forced training (kunren) as following:

At the special school, kunren was overemphasized daily. For example, since I could not stretch my knees or straighten myself because of cerebral palsy, they put some 20 kilograms of sandbags on both of my legs in order to straighten out my knees. However, my tensed knees could not stretch at all. Then, a physical therapist, who was about 80 kilograms, sat on my knees, thus eventually pressing them down with a total 100 kilograms in weight. It hurt very much, but I endured it at the time. … In any case, it was kunren shaping us to become as close to being an able-bodied person as possible. (1997, pp. 89-90)

Ogami reflects that, through such painful training to correct disabled bodies and minds, "able-bodied" values were imposed upon him and other children with disabilities.

However, Azuma points out that such discipline no longer works in contemporary societies in which the validity of meta-narrative has decreased. He argues that in order for discipline to be effective, there must be a normative value system. It is through internalizing a normative value that people become subject to social order. According to Foucault, this is a process of subjectification. Therefore, when a meta-narrative no longer has a grip on the minds of people, discipline correspondingly loses its effects. Azuma, along with David Lyon (2001), Gilles Deleuze (1992), and other post-Foucauldian theoreticians locates the rise of another technique for social control that does not require a normative value system to function. The new technology of social control no longer corrects a deviant person; rather, it searches for a target, for a person it suspects of disturbing the order and monitors his/her behavior. This technology is called "surveillance," which has been "adopted to try to detect certain kinds of behaviors and activities in order to prevent or deter some of them" (Lyon, 2005, p. 121). Rather than a command of normative values, surveillance depends on meticulous observation and monitoring to control order.

Emphasis on Finding the "Target" Children in Educational Contexts

While the government tries to convince the public that Special Support Education simply aims at the improvement of education for children with disabilities, I strongly suspect a social control motivation to monitor "antisocial" behaviors, of which children with developmental disabilities are suspected.

In April 2001, the Research Cooperators' Council on Juvenile Delinquency, which was founded within the Ministry of Education, issued a report called Network of Mind and Behavior: Do Not Miss Mental Signs, Advance from "Informational Cooperation" to "Active Cooperation." The report emphasized that:

from 1999 to 2000, there were continuous happenings of heinous juvenile crimes which staggered society, such that an elementary schoolboy was stabbed to death in a playground after school, junior high school students extorted large amounts of money, a high school student murdered a housewife, and youth hijacked a bus. … [W]ith children who have difficulties in adapting to school life and a tendency to problem behaviors, there is an urgent need to analyze characteristics and backgrounds of such students' problem behaviors and to take appropriate counter-measures (2001).

As "appropriate counter-measures," the report proposed to develop a system of detecting children's "mental signs and symptoms of problem behaviors." Coincidently, the following year MEXT conducted a nationwide investigation, the National Survey of Students with Special Needs Attending Regular Classes, and discovered that about 6.3% of all students in regular classrooms were considered to be a "student who had significant difficulty in either learning or behaviors" (2002b) by classroom teachers. This figure, which was far larger than Japanese educators anticipated, compelled the government to quickly take steps to deal with those ill-adapting children attending regular classes who have special educational needs, such as those with LD, ADHD, high functioning autism and other developmental disabilities. Soon after the survey, the People with Developmental Disabilities Support Act (hatatsushōgaisha shien hō) was formulated in December 2004 and immediately approved by the Japanese Diet. The Act emphasizes above all the importance of "early detection" and urges that schools take active measures for monitoring children with developmental disabilities.

Located within such social contexts, Special Support Education starts to look more like the "appropriate counter-measures" to detect and monitor the "mental signs and symptoms of problem behaviors" suggested by the 2001 report of the Council on Juvenile Delinquency. As if to prove such suspicion, in 2004, MEXT published Guidelines for Building Educational Support Systems for Children with LD, ADHD, and High Functioning Autism at Elementary and Junior High Schools, which included a checklist for identifying children with developmental disabilities. Provided with such a tool, regular schools are becoming increasingly ready to detect children's developmental disabilities. According to a survey of 22,253 public elementary schools throughout Japan administered by MEXT in 2007, 86.8% of the surveyed schools have already conducted an in-school investigation on children with developmental disabilities. However, these schools have remained non-participatory with some of the other features of Special Support Education such as the Individual Educational Plan, which barely 20.9% have developed for students with disabilities (MEXT, 2007a). It seems to follow a pattern that the diagnosis and assessment has become an end result, instead of being used as information to support children and their individual needs (Sugiyama, 2007). Another survey administered to 864 elementary school teachers throughout Japan asked the respondents what would be the most useful aspect of Special Support Education. According to the results, the assessment of children's developmental disabilities was evaluated the highest (Setoguchi, 2007). These emerging studies are already suggesting an increased emphasis on the assessment and identification of children with developmental disabilities, which could result in creating more "children with disabilities" under questionable diagnoses (Miyazaki, 2006).

The coauthors of an instructional book on Special Support Education, A System of Special Support Education for All Schools, clearly state the importance of assessment and highly recommend that teachers in regular classrooms acquire a rigorous objectivism and "scientific eyes" toward children:

Having scientific eyes so as to be able to see children who need special service by the end of the first semester. …. … Besides, one has to find it at early stage and take measures against it (Tateno, 2006, p. 4).

When there are several unruly children in class, how can you differentiate between children who really need support from children who just follow their classmates? Do you rely on your experience and intuition as a teacher? … You need a system with "scientific eyes" (Nara, 2006, p. 39).

These suggestions are not made by doctors or counselors. Rather, they are by schoolteachers, both claiming to have developed the "scientific eyes" required to teach Special Support Education. The latter quotation above goes as far as to insist that "scientific eyes" are preferred to teachers' experiences and intuitions, sharply conflicting with the philosophy of education that emphasizes the importance of experience (Dewey, 1997).

The rigorous objectivism and the "scientific eyes" necessary for observing children are even more strongly advised for the Special Support Coordinator who is expected to work as an in-school facilitator of Special Support Education. An instructional book, What the Special Support Coordinator Is Expected to Do (Ōmorijuku Henshūiinkai, 2006), which was compiled by a study group of schoolteachers, describes yearly tasks for the coordinator. According to the book, the first mission of the coordinator is to find the "target" children who may not adapt well to the order of school life and to monitor them during the morning assembly, school activities, physical check-up, while they are changing clothes, and at lunch time. In addition, the coordinator is encouraged to conduct both criteria-referenced tests to assess children's intellectual abilities, and checklists to assess their problem behaviors early in the year. The results of such tests can be used as evidence to convince the parents that their children need other medical treatments and/or to be sent to special support classes or resource rooms. Additionally, according to the yearly tasks the book suggests, the coordinator is supposed to hold a workshop to raise parents' awareness of potential developmental disabilities that may be affecting their children. The observation of children extends even outside of school life as the coordinator monitors their daily activities during summer vacation by visiting students' homes and making telephone inquiries. At the same time, the coordinator is to review and investigate the profile of incoming children by sending inquiries to teachers from the previous childcare/kindergarten that the children attended. The information collected is then used by the school committee to discuss whether the incoming student should be placed in a regular or special class. Surprisingly, throughout the twelve-month schedule, there is no mention of educational assistance. The coordinator's tasks seem to be those of an inspector rather than an educator.

In such an atmosphere in which both technical aids and encouragement to identify children with developmental disabilities are increasing, the number of children brought out of the regular classroom to a separate space within regular school has increased. The number of children pulled out to resource rooms in elementary schools increased from 11,963 in 1993 to 39,764 in 2006, while children placed in separate special classes increased from 45,650 in 1993 to 73,151 in 2006 (MEXT, 2007b, pp. 39-40).1 When these data are combined with the number of students who are placed in segregated special schools, the trend is even more obvious. In ten years, such placement has increased from 86,293 (1997) to 104,592 (2007). This increase in fact is largely due to the number of students placed in special schools particularly for intellectual disability, which is in a steady rise and has increased from 52,102 in 1997 to 71,453 in 2007 (MEXT, 2007b). In view of the recent demographic trends of dwindling birthrates and decreasing numbers of children in Japan (shōshika),2 these ever-increasing numbers are telling and alarming. Perhaps the following statement made by Professor Hidenori Miyazaki, who was at the time a member of an ad hoc committee on Special Support Education established by MEXT, best clarifies the "real" intention of Special Support Education:

Special Support Education is not meant to promote inclusive education, but its purpose is to provide education that can meet the individual needs of each student, and to provide it in an appropriate setting. It certainly does not mean accepting children with severe impairments into regular elementary and junior high schools (Central Council for Education, 2005, emphases added).

Keeping the unnerving parallel between Special Support Education and social surveillance in mind, it now clearly seems that the newly introduced system is not the desired "progress toward equal opportunity for all children." According to Lyon, surveillance inevitably entails a discriminatory dimension, which people tend to overlook:

All too often, convenience and efficiency are all that get noticed in systems that have surveillance aspects, with the result that data subjects are often unaware of the broader discriminatory and classificatory dimensions of such systems (2002, p. 251).

With regard to children with disabilities, the "convenience and efficiency" of a special class or resource room may seem preferable to adults who work with children, although their "discriminatory and classificatory dimensions" will undoubtedly deny the children opportunities for inclusive education and, ultimately, inclusive society.

Concluding Thoughts

There has been a long and conflicting debate between people who value inclusive education and people who prioritize the perceived efficiency of specialized teaching. For that reason, the institutionalization of compulsory special education in Japan in the 1970s sparked profound disputes. Quite differently, the promising posture of Special Support Education as shifting the focus from children's disabilities to individual special needs has mostly been able to win the approval of both groups. This is because, superficially, Special Support Education appears to solve the dilemma of inclusion and specialized teaching by opening the doors of regular schools to children with disabilities as well as introducing needs-based education. The concept of needs-based education or special needs education originated in UNESCO's "Salamanca Statements and Framework for Action on Special Needs Education" (1994), which Special Support Education cites as its own background (MEXT, 2005). The "Salamanca Statements" recognize the uniqueness of children with disabilities as well as their right to inclusion in mainstream schools:

Those with special educational needs must have access to regular schools which should accommodate them within a child-centered pedagogy capable of meeting these needs." (1994: viii)

Special Support Education appears faithful to the Statement. Beneath the surface, though, Special Support Education not only maintains segregated special schools, it also expands separation within a regular school, through which children with developmental disabilities are identified and conveniently sent off to separate classrooms in the name of "proper education and instruction." This clearly betrays the goal of inclusive education, which is considered to be "the most effective means of combating discriminatory attitudes, creating welcoming communities, building an inclusive society and achieving education for all" (UNESCO, 1994: ix). Instead of "combating discriminatory attitudes," Special Support Education in Japan responds to social demands for surveillance of children's so-called "antisocial" behavior and, in the process, "contributes increasingly to the reproduction and reinforcing of social divisions" (Lyon, 2002: p. 242). Bearing in mind the lives it can potentially change, the present and future of Special Support Education as an inclusive system needs to continue to be discussed more, and more thoughtfully.


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  1. Those increases are not due to an increase of desegregation. Rather, the trend is in an opposite direction. For example, the number of students who transferred from regular schools to special schools was 3,483 in 2005, which was grater than the number of students who moved back to regular schools — 2,878 (MEXT, 2007b).
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  2. Birthrates fell about fifty percent in 30 years, from 16.3% in 1976 to 8.7% in 2006 (Ministry of Health, Labor and Welfare, 2006).
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