How Japan Imports Social Problems from the West: Child Abuse from Early 20th Century to the Present

Tuesday, July 15, 2014: 9:00 AM
Room: Booth 58
Oral Presentation
Kayoko UENO , Faculty of Integrated Arts and Sciences, The University of Tokushima, Tokushima, Japan
For more than a century, Japan’s approach to the child abuse problem has been stimulated and shaped by developments in western countries, particular in the US.  Early in the 20th century, a national discussion of child abuse was initiated by hundful Japanese who had been exposed to western philanthropy.  In the 1970s, Japanese medical professionals raised awareness of battered child syndrome proposed by a leading American pediatrician.  Starting in the 1990’s, a massive discourse on child abuse problem emerged from various professional groups who admired prevention and treatment measures from the US.  Official data show that child abuse cases in Japan are most common for people of lower economic class.  However, social policy on child abuse problem downplays the importance of economic stability and attributes the problem to individual families.  Thus, government policy prioritizes identifying settings where there is a risk of child abuse and counseling parents instead of focusing on bringing families out of poverty.  A child abuse risk assessment tool from the US is applied to every Japanese family in which there is an infant. The present study shows evidence of increased social panopticism and shows that risk technology morally penalizes mothers, leading to social exclusion.