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April 2012

27 April 2012

Influence that the integrated tax and social security reform on persons with disabilities(IMAMURA Noboru,STEP Edogawa)

The article "A Voice of our own" published in our periodical #27-2 is as following;

The Headquarters of the Government and Ruling Parties for Social Security Reform reported July 1, 2011 the definite plan for the comprehensive reform of social security and tax (hereinafter referred to as “the definite plan”) to the Cabinet, which has not been decided in the Cabinet yet. It is likely that Democratic Party of Japan is planning to discuss with the opposition party and make arrangement based on the definite plan in order to make a draft law within 2011.  Mr. Noda, the present Minister of Finance, is elected to be the next prime minister while I am writing this article. When this is published, the Noda administration will have started.   Great attention is paid on how the new Cabinet handles this issue as well as the framework proposal for the Comprehensive Welfare Law which is supposed to be finalized on August 30, 2011.

For the disability issues, the definite plan only mentions “fulfillment of comprehensive disability policy (which supports every person with disability with no exclusion, and community lives), measures for persons with intractable diseases and secured community model in disaster recovery”.  At temporary schedule, discussions at the Panel for Comprehensive Welfare Service will be done until December, 2011 and the Comprehensive Welfare Law will be submitted to the Diet in January-March, 2012. That’s all mentioned in the definite plan.  If we only see the definite plan, it seems that the Comprehensive Welfare Law will be made based on the framework proposal, but there is no guarantee.  It would be possible that the definite plan will be used as a reason why the law cannot be made based on the framework proposal during the process of discussion.

So what makes us worry?  Firstly, the purpose of the definite plan is to secure the fund of social security policy and assurance of sound financial status.  To attain this purpose, there are three measures suggested; 1) gradually increase Consumption Tax up to 10% until the middle of 2010s, 2) expand social security expenditures including measure for declining birthrate, not only for the elderly (medical, pension and care), 3) introduce social security number system for taxation as well. 

Even though Personal Income Tax to reduce inequality and promote income distribution and tax on estate are mentioned in the Clause “Comprehensive Tax Reform”, what we need to focus is that only Consumption Tax is mentioned in detail.  If tax are increased, there’s no guarantee that it will be used for social security.  It is regarded that tax increase is to enforce social security system and maintain sustainability. 1% increase of Consumption Tax makes approximately 2.5trillion yen. So if Consumption Tax is increased up to 10%, 12.5trillion yen will additionally become revenue for social security. But it won’t be fully used. 1% will be used for system sustainability, another 1% will be used for enforce the system with policy reform and rest of it (7.5trillion yen) will be compensated with general revenue, the source said. 

I am sure that there would be opinions say “Even 1% of Consumption Tax should be used for social security” or “Financial reform also is important. There is no choice but tax increase”. What I am concerning is if the revenue is used for disability policy. The plan for the elderly aims the following up to 2025; 1) to increase users of group home and multi-functional small facility from 210,000 to 770,000 per day, 2) to increase users of home care service from 3.35million to 5.1million per day.  It is appreciated that in-home care system for the elderly also is being promoted. Standard of hospitalization, however, was shortened from 20 days to 9 days. Even for persons at highly acute phases, the standard was shortened the length only for 15 days.  It aims to decrease 5% of number of outpatients and 3% of number of persons who need nursery care and plans to make recipients of public assistance pay their medical expenses. To shorten the length of hospitalization and return to the community, it is necessary to fulfill and enforce social support for social work and empowerment rather than medical treatment. The government has not taken care of these things. Promotion of care management and service centralization which are mentioned in the definite plan seem to be the countermeasures of hospitalization issue, but the current care management is nothing but combination of services of the nursing care insurance system. Moreover, what worries us most is that the definite plan emphasizes on complete efficiency of the payment system. We have to remember the Reform Grand Design, which was the base of the Services and Supports for Persons with Disabilities Act, was supposed to make “efficient payment system”. Expanding social security expenditures for the elderly (medical, pension and care) has to be regardless of age. Therefore, however the government may explain that “the nursing care” in the definite plan means the nursing care insurance for the elderly,  we cannot trust that persons with disabilities is the exception of the system.  For instance, “Social security number system”, which is supposed to combine social security and tax, includes disability field because it introduces limit of amount to be borne in every field such as health care, elderly care and child care.  It seems to be acceptable to set limit of amount to be borne, but there is possibility that the services may be based on its amount to be borne because tax payments and services are managed together. And there could be limit of public services shown by the government saying that persons who need more than given services pay for services. Thus the definite plan has a lot of points to be worried while it suggests important concepts like “guarantee of participation”.

The conclusion is, as I see it, it is outstanding in the integrated tax and social security reform that it emphasizes on complete efficiency of the payment system. The government is trying to decide on the overall reform in accordance with the definite plan while they say the disability policy will be prepared with the discussion of the Committee for disability policy reform and the Panel for Comprehensive Welfare Service. And they divide public opinion by spreading the worn-out phrase “It cannot be supported by citizen” through press room of Ministry of Health, Labour and Welfare. Otherwise disability issues and our voices are ignored because this field is basically not popular. To avoid it, now is time we need to do our best to make our voice.

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24 April 2012

Evaluation and arguing points on Report of Reasonable Accommodation Working Group toward realization of Inclusive Education(Nationwide Support Center for Students with Disabilities TONOOKA Tsubasa)

The article "A Voice of our own" published in our periodical #27-4 is as following;

 We have been making a strong effort on inclusive education for children with disabilities overcoming many difficulties. In midst of this, Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology-Japan (hereinafter referred to as “MEXT) revised the Ordinance for Enforcement of the School Education Act in 2003 and introduced a new enrollment standard and special certification system. In 2007, schools were mandated to hear parents’ opinions before they decide the school to enter. Investigation Research Cooperator Conference on promotion of the special support education suggested, in its interim report in February, 2009, a new system which decides the school to enter judging education and support in each school is introduced.

 After historic political change in 2009, Committee for disability policy reform was established and its first opinion influenced the Cabinet decision.  Based on this decision, MEXT requested the primary/secondary education working team in Central Council for Education to discuss on inclusive education. In response, the working team set up the special committee for the special support education in July, 2007 and the committee set up the Working Group on environmental arrangement for reasonable accommodation (hereinafter referred to as “WG) in July, 2011. In the same month, Basic Law for Persons with Disabilities was revised and it says; “children and students with disabilities need to be considered to be included in general education as much as possible”. The WG discussed based on this principle. The argued points were reported in “Perspective of reasonable accommodation in school (hereinafter referred to as “the Report)” on February 13, 2011.

 The Report defines 1) “reasonable accommodation” as a duty that school supports children with disabilities, 2) “basic environmental arrangement” as the governmental responsibility to arrange environment and illustrates contents and method of education, support system,  facility and instrument. 

 According to the Report, the definition of reasonable accommodation is that schools are mandated to take appropriate arrangements for children with disabilities to secure the rights to receive education equally with other children and it is individually required when children with disabilities receive education depending on each situation. The definition of basic environmental arrangement is that the government takes legal and/or financial measures to arrange education environment at national/prefectural/municipal level and it is the basis of reasonable accommodation.

 DPI-Japan has been developing the movement to shift the education system from separate school system to inclusive education in which all kinds of children study together. Considering the purpose of its movement, the Report was not acceptable. However, it was a big progress that reasonable accommodation at general school is adapted. It is required, with strategic use of the Report, to improve the environment surrounds not only children at general school but also all of children.  Evaluation and arguing points of the Report are as follows;

 At first, it is highly regarded that negative reaction of reasonable accommodation is described as “discrimination” referring CRPD Article 2. It is also regarded that schools and its owners are mandated to take reasonable accommodation, which was addressed by Mr. Chihara, manager of Special Education Division, MEXT, at the Panel for Anti-discrimination Law on January 27.

 But it is not acceptable that “reasonable accommodation” doesn’t have same meanings between in Basic Law for Persons with Disabilities and in CRPD.  Though it was confirmed in the Congress, there is apparent intention to avoid the consistence with Article 4 of the Basic Law.  And it was not clearly mentioned whether taking reasonable accommodation is legal duty or duty for persons with disabilities themselves based on their own rights. The Report didn’t mention how to promote equal opportunity, which is one of classical values of reasonable accommodation.

 Secondly, with regard to definition of reasonable accommodation, it is acceptable that the Report mentions Third Party meditates the conflict between “school and its owners” and “students and their parents”. It is also acceptable that there were possible and flexible revision after determination of reasonable accommodation and descriptions about parents with disabilities and teachers with disabilities.

 There are, however, some problems. The Report didn’t clearly mention the mandatory to hear the needs of “students and their parents” in decision of reasonable accommodation. According to the administration office, MEXT, it will be done during the individual support plan making by “school and its owners” and “students and their parents”.  Although the Reports says that it is important to include children with disabilities into general classes as much as possible, it also remains separate education by saying that children with disabilities are not always at general classes and various programs can be adapted flexibly.

 Thirdly, with regard to basic environmental arrangement, the Report defines it as a base of reasonable accommodation which is determined individually. It is acceptable that the Reports defines that doing basic environmental arrangement is the duty of local governments. Targets of basic environmental arrangement are not only facilities and equipments of schools, but also special education teacher license holding status, specialist arrangement like coordinator, trainings and barrier-free textbooks.

 While governments expends for basic environmental arrangement, regional gap is a problem to be solved. Doing basic environmental arrangement is discussed as “heavy burden” for local governments. Whether 20million or even Yen lift installation in municipal governments which has 50million Yen budget for education is “heavy burden” was a discussed point at the meeting. It depends on standing position, but basic environmental arrangement cannot be neglected due to “heavy burden”.

 In particular areas, there were some remarkable points ; 1) ICF utilization in disability status, 2) schools and its owners are not allowed to ask parents to stay at schools without consideration, 3) support system in case of emergency, and 4) to secure teachers with disabilities.

 In the final report made by the special committee for the special support education, to solve the above mentioned problems are expected. Besides, given the implementation of medical care at schools and the survey of children with disabilities in general classes, it is necessary to make policy to secure the rights of children with disabilities.

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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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Blog Reopen and Request for Donations

This is public relations staff, DPI-Japan.
Our English blog has been closed since last November, and now restarts.

The article "A Voice of our own", which is written for our periodical,
will be posted to the blog.

~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~
One year has passed since the Great East Japan Earthquake.
Collected donations has been used for relief activities of persons with
disabilities at affected areas through Relief Headquarters for Persons
with Disabilities of Tohoku-Kanto Great Earthquake

We have been supporting marginalized persons with disabilities in collaboration
with local people. More support is needed to continue our activities.

Your continuous support will be gratefully appreciated.
Donation bank account information is as below;

【Bank transfer】
Account with Bank: The Bank of Tokyo-Mitsubishi UFJ, Ltd
Swift Code/BIC: BOTKJPJT
Branch: Kanda Branch
Beneficiary’s Account Number: Account No.331-1187475
Beneficiary’s Name: DPI-Japan

You can donate with credit card.
http://www.dpi-japan.org/bokin_k/dpien.html?1

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