Journal of Literary & Cultural Disability Studies

If Lessons Are to Be Learned

Depiction of Disability in Mienai Bakudan (The Invisible Bomb)

Journal of Literary & Cultural Disability Studies (2018), 12, (3), 269–285.

Abstract

The article explores persistent social preconceptions regarding disability through comparison of children’s picture books in Japan depicting congenital physical difference. Images of disabilities as shocking and tragic icons have frequently been employed in protests and activist campaigns against controversial uses of technology and often in the context of defending social justice. While two previous books have presented unique and creative messages to embrace physical differences, the most recent work, Mienai Bakudan (The Invisible Bomb) created in response to the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant Crisis in 2011, focuses on negative representations of radioactive threat. Critics have pointed out that such negative representations are based on a conventional view that a life with disabilities is humiliating, and could lead to eugenic ideas of evaluating and controlling people’s lives. This debate has led to conflict among activists as well as united action and resilient discourse against patriarchal conventions associated with eugenics. The recent trend of positive disability images tends to obscure covert prejudices regarding disability. To challenge these ongoing contradictory attitudes toward disability, lessons from previous attempts to cope with disability humiliation provide insights.

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Mashimo, Yayoi