A Study of the Social Status of People with Mental Disabilities in Edo Era Japan
小林, 佳乃子Kobayashi, Kanoko
72 , 2016-03 , 新潟大学大学院現代社会文化研究科
This paper presents the issues of the social status of people with mental disabilities in the Edo era Japan by focusing on the examples of commutation of punishment and their social treatment upon such people’s conducting criminal and other offences. The words which describe mental disabilities were classified into different kinds, namely ranshin, gumai and shukyo (which are similar to today’s mentally incompetent, mentally deficient and ebrious state). Based on these words, there were some commutations of punishment when people with mental disabilities committed a serious crime. These commutations depended on the accused’s social rank and pardon of the relatives of victims. There were also three other kinds of treatment for people with mental disabilities in the Edo era. These were not punishments, but the person was for example held captive or pulled down to a severe discriminatory status. People who fell under these treatments were split into these three types due to their personal situation. From the above certain issues arise, which will have to be addressed in further research. These include the relationship between the treatment of persons with mental disabilities and their social rank, gender and family ties.