Organized Panel Session
In this paper, I investigate issues surrounding asexuality and anonymity of people with disabilities in Japan. Prejudice against the disabled is twofold: (1) it forces the disabled to be both asexual and anonymous; and (2) it acts as a protection to reinforce the traditional structure of the “good Japanese family,” a social group of which the disabled person can rarely be a member.
In Japan, the Eugenic Protection Law enforced the involuntary sterilization of people with disabilities from 1948 to 1996, which allowed 16,400 people to be sterilized against their will. On January 30, 2018, a woman in Miyagi Prefecture filed a lawsuit against the state, seeking damages over her forced sterilization when she was a teenager.
As a disabled person, from puberty, I grew up in an environment that made it unthinkable to consider myself as sexual. All cultural representations insisted that I would never have a sexual partner. Treating people with disabilities as “asexual” and “anonymous” is considered frustrating and offensive. In order to explore asexuality and anonymity, I use the work of Emmanuel Levinas, and his notion of the “il-y-a,” which is a space devoid of meaning. Within Japanese society, “il-y-a” is conformity to a community. I suggest that the “il-y-a” of the disabled person may be overcome through self-directed studies (tōjisha kenkyū) and peer-driven counseling can re-constitute their identity in a positive light, in order to escape the ghost of eugenics.