Behavior Analysis in Japan

Organized activity on behavior analysis in Japan began in 1979 with the formation of the Society for the Study of Behavior Analysis. In 1983, the society changed its name to the Japanese Association for Behavior Analysis (J-ABA) when its first annual convention was held at Keio University. This is the university that Dr. Burrhus Frederic Skinner visited in 1972 when he was invited to speak to the Japanese Psychological Association. The late Dr. Kaoru Yamaguchi and the late Dr. Masaya Sato were the two leading behavior analysts during J-ABA’s infancy.

Dr. Yamaguchi, the first president of J-ABA, was an emeritus professor of Tokyo Gakugei University and a special needs education researcher. He received Dr. Sydney W. Bijou’s guidance as a Fulbright scholar. In 1972, along with Dr. Tadashi Azuma, Dr. Yamaguchi translated Dr. Bijou and Dr. Donald M. Baer’s book Child Development I: A systematic and empirical theory into Japanese. The translated version became a ground-breaking book for applied behavior analysis in Japan.

Japan an ABA

Dr. Sato engaged in research and education at Keio University. He wrote many books and articles that explored various areas of behavior analysis within both the experimental and conceptual analyses frameworks. He was the long-time head of the Japanese Association for Behavior Analysis and the first president of the Association for Behavior Analysis International (ABAI) from outside the United States. In memory of Dr. Sato, Dr. Koichi Ono wrote about his life and work in The Journal of the Experimental Analysis of Behavior (Ono, 2011).

Under the leadership of two great Japanese behavior analysts, J-ABA developed Japan’s behavioral studies and practices. The main goal of J-ABA is to promote the experimental, theoretical, and applied analyses of behavior as formulated by B.F. Skinner. Since its establishment, J-ABA has made great strides in research and is now one of the most successful international chapters of ABAI. As of 2015, J-ABA has more than 1,000 members from a wide variety of professions, including researchers, school teachers, counselors, social workers, nurses, animal trainers, and business professionals.   

J-ABA organizes an annual convention, publishes The Japanese Journal of Behavior Analysis twice a year, and distributes a newsletter (J-ABA News). The organization also hosts workshops and symposia for its members and anyone else interested in behavior analysis and its applications. These activities all align with our goal of disseminating behavior analysis in Japan. J-ABA also actively collaborates with other academic societies in Japan and promotes international exchanges.

ABAI’s 8th International Conference was held in Kyoto on September 27-29, 2015. There were 626 participants, of which 400 were from other countries outside Japan. There were 214 presentations. The conference was a great success, which can be largely attributed to the late Dr. Sato, who, as president of the Association for Behavior Analysis International, often suggested the conference invoked the real sense of the term “international.” It is sad that Dr. Sato did not live long enough to attend the Kyoto conference.

Previously, J-ABA invited many world-renowned behavior analysts, such as Dr. A. Charles Catania, Dr. Murray Sidman, and Dr. Kennon A. Lattal, to deliver presentations. Their cooperation has deeply contributed to the development of behavior analysis in Japan. I firmly believe that J-ABA will continue to accomplish its behavior analysis mission with behavior analysts from around the world.

Koichi Ono (2011). In Memoriam: Masaya Sato: Research and a life. Journal of the Experimental Analysis of Behavior, 96, 1-5.

Note from the Institute: Tetsumi Moriyama is Professor of Psychology at Tokiwa University in Mito, Japan, where he has been a teacher and administrator since 2006. Professor Moriyama had served as the chief editor of the Japanese Journal of Behavior Analysis (2012-2015) and a vice president of his university (2008-2011). Now he has served as an adviser for the editorial committee of the J-JBA and as an auditor-secretary of the Japanese Association for Behavior Analysis. Further, he has served as the dean of graduate school of his university. He and his students have conducted creative research in many areas of behavior analysis and comparative psychology, including say-do correspondence, resurgence, and the reinforcing properties of imprinting stimuli.


Posted by Andy Lattal, Ph.D.

Dr. Andy Lattal is the Centennial Professor of Psychology at West Virginia University (WVU). Lattal has authored over 150 research articles and chapters on conceptual, experimental, and applied topics in behavior analysis and edited seven books and journal special issues, including APA’s memorial tribute to B. F. Skinner.