Basic Law for Persons with Disabilities and policy reform – Revised law and its problems(DPI-Japan Secretary-General ONOUE Koji)
The article "A Voice of our own" published in our periodical #27-1 is as following;
■ Revised Basic Law for Persons with Disabilities as a first step of policy reform
The meeting of the Committee for disability policy reform (hereinafter referred to as “the Committee”) was held on April 18, 2012 which was delayed for a month due to Great East Japan Earthquake on March 11.
In the meeting, contents of the draft of the revised Basic Law for Persons with Disabilities (hereinafter referred to as “the draft law”) were reported and discussed. Taking the period of the Diet into consideration, the Cabinet changed the original deadline of the revision, which was originally scheduled in the middle of March, 2011 and decided at the Cabinet meeting, due to the catastrophic earthquake and tsunami. Right after the meeting of the Committee, the draft law was finalized April 22 at the Cabinet meeting and submitted to Lower House. The Diet is likely to discuss the draft law in the middle of May, even though the schedule remains uncertain. Now that it is on a session of the Diet, it is important to request the discussion based on the opinions from the Committee involving general public.
The plan showed by the Committee which aims to revise the Basic Law for Persons with Disabilities firstly, to enact Comprehensive Welfare Law in 2012 and to enact Anti-discrimination Law in 2013 was officially approved at the Cabinet meeting. To predict future development, it is necessary to recognize the meaning and remained tasks of the revised Basic Law for Persons with Disabilities.
■”Cohesive society with no isolation”, Definition including “Persons who are not included in the disability policy”
The Committee mainly focused on checking the revised contents of the Basic Law for Persons with Disabilities and remained tasks since the draft law has been reported at the 3rd meeting of the Committee in March.
The revised contents are as follows;
1) General provision (objective, definition of persons with disabilities, community life, anti-discrimination etc.)
2) Specific provision (health care, home care, education, job counseling, employment, housing etc.)
3) Commission system at national/local level (Disability policy committee)
I herewith introduce some noticeable points including the discussions at the meeting of the Committee.
Clause 1 stipulates the principle for creating society with no isolation due to disability based on fundamental human right (Clause 3: Cohesive society in community, Clause 4: Anti-discrimination, and Clause 5: International cooperation are the principle).
Clause 2 has perspective of social model by saying that disability is restricted condition in daily/social life due to impairment and social barriers even though there is uncertain description about the relation between impairment and social barriers. In this regard, the Committee recognized that this definition partially follows the philosophy of the UN Convention on the Right of Persons with Disabilities (hereinafter referred to as “CRPD”). It was also recognized that “Persons who are not included in the disability policy” such as persons with developmental disabilities and higher brain dysfunction, which has been pointed out at the additional resolution, is included in the draft law.
And it is also appreciable that Clause 3-3 remarks that sign language is included in “language”. It is the result of efforts of persons with disabilities and concerned people. New clauses like “Access to Justice”, as well as below-mentioned disability policy committee etc., were made through discussions of the Committee which is similar with.
■About ”Right to live at community”, ”Inclusive education”
In the part of ”Right to live at community” etc. , that said, however, there are not a few unsatisfactory points. Clause 3-2 mentions “every person with disability shall not be prevented from deciding where and whom to live with and living at community as far as possible.”
The term “as far as possible” may well have been criticized by many members. Non-disabled persons can decide their living places wherever they pay for. In that sense, the law should mention “equally with Non-disabled persons”. But the Cabinet officers stuck to saying that persons who need serious medical care can be accommodated in equipped facilities.
On the contrary, there were in-depth replies about education issues. Clause16-1 newly stipulates that children/students with disabilities can be accommodated to receive education with other children/students as far as possible. In this regard, the officer emphasized this as the principle saying that every child basically goes to same school together and Clause16-2 stipulates interexchange with non-disabled children for children who chose to go to special school. The Cabinet officers remarked that the term “accommodated” in Clause16-1 means “reasonable accommodation”. Although those remarks were not satisfactory, they have to be kept in our mind toward prospective revision of other relevant laws.
The revision left some issues excluded such as psychiatric disability and women with disabilities. On the issue of psychiatric disability, the Committee confirmed to discuss continuously. The Committee also barely confirmed that Clause10 “Basic guideline” covers the issue of women with disabilities.
■Let us do our best toward policy reform － for the preamble following CRPD and participation of persons with disabilities in monitoring body
The draft law stipulates the establishment of disability policy committee at national level and its local councils. This committee is supposed to study, deliberate and advise concerning ministers. The ministers are also mandated to response the Committee’s advice. This stipulation follows the Clause 33 of CRPD, which mentions the monitoring body, and is very important to continue the reform under the Committee.
In this regard, Mr. Sonoda, the Parliamentary Secretary mentioned at the meeting that this draft law will enable the Committee to continue as a policy committee.
As mentioned above, in the draft law there is a big gap between original areas and new areas as well as ideal level. Particularly, people on conservative position resisted intensively on the issues of community life and psychiatric disabilities. To resolve the remaining problems in the draft law, we need to keep on going with each area as well as other laws.
Process to make the draft law based on second opinion was not same as ever. Draft papers have been made based on the outline arranged in advance (sometimes under-the-table). But it was done publicly this time and disclosed what obstacle was. This obstacle has to be removed in order to attain the policy reform.
At further Diet deliberations it is necessary that importance of preamble following CRPD and participation of persons with disabilities in monitoring body is recognized. In addition, some issues which were not discussed well at the meetings of the Committee like emergency support system in case of disaster needs to be included in the law. And it is expected that law revision is to be done during the reform intensive period. For the Diet deliberations based on the discussions of the Committee, we need to move on and request in all directions!
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