Dr Ian Brittain, Coventry University

The second week of the UK-Japan Social Sciences and Humanities Connections Grant project “building research capacity around disability studies and sport to positively impact the lives of people with disabilities – 2020 and beyond”, took place in Tokyo from 22nd to 29th June 2019. Six UK academics from the Universities of Coventry, Kent, West of Scotland and Worcester were joined by four Japanese practitioners in the area of disability and Paralympic sport to plan for our final day events to be held in the House of Councillors (the Japanese equivalent of the Houses of Parliament). This comprised of a policy forum in the morning with invited guests including politicians, academics and practitioners and an open symposium in the afternoon where the team presented possible future research plans to investigate the impact of the Tokyo 2020 Paralympics Games on the lives of people with disabilities in Japan and discussed them with the audience. The audience for this event comprised at least twenty percent journalists.

The week comprised of three days at Waseda University planning our presentation for the open symposium. On the Wednesday we were fortunate to be invited on a Tokyo 2020 venues tour organised by Meiji University and the Tokyo Metropolitan Assembly that included the canoe slalom course, the rowing and canoe sprint venue, the |Ariaki Arena, the Aquatics Centre and the Olympic and Paralympic Village. This was followed in the afternoon by a boat tour around Tokyo Bay to see other venues in the area. 

We were also fortunate to be invited to a very nice dinner on the Tuesday evening hosted by the Chairman of the Nippon Foundation Paralympic Research Group where we were joined by Maki Kobayashi-Terada, the Communications Director from Tokyo 2020 and Ichiro Kuronuma, Director of the Office for Para Sports Promotion within the Japan Sports Agency.

Overall, this was a great week, at times a little stressful, but we all left with a feeling of satisfaction of a job well-done. The minutes of the policy forum are now being transcribed with the goal of producing a document in both English and Japanese with recommendations for the greater inclusion of people with disabilities through sport in Japan.

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