The Role of Spaces As Support for Social Inclusion of Youth in Japan

Wednesday, 13 July 2016
Location: Hörsaal 47 (Main Building)
Distributed Paper
Satoshi OTAYA, the University of Tokyo, Japan
About 20 years have passed since young people's independence began to attract attention in Japan. Since then, youth support programs have been institutionalized. However, in the process of institutionalization, it was found that there were many young people who had serious difficulties in finding employment (for example, because they were socially withdrawn, developmentally disabled, or had complicated family backgrounds, which couldn’t be solved,) in the existing supports to young people’s occupational self-reliance.

Within this social context, attention has been given to means of support that provide safe, comfortable spaces to youth who cannot find their place in the society, and especially youth in a state of social withdrawal in Japan, in what are called “free spaces” or “ibasho.”

Ibasho,” is a Japanese term which translates as “a place where one feels at home.” It has been thirty years or so since the word “ibasho” started to be used in scholarly articles. Nowadays, it is closely related to discussions of social withdrawal.

The “ibasho” support aims to make young people adapt to the space. Therefore it does not seem compatible with support to young people’s occupational self-reliance that aims for their transition to work. Furthermore, it is difficult to measure the effects of the support quantitatively.

Because of these reasons, this research studies youth support facilities that absorb people with developmental disabilities and have a free space for self-help groups for people with developmental disabilities. We conducted ethnographic research and interviews to find out about the underlying philosophy of supports and users' opinions about them. Through a comparative study of the two entities, we aimed to find out how “ibasho” currently function and how it is understood in the social context of youths’ occupational self-reliance.