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March 2014

24 March 2014

The 11th, 12th Commission on Policy for Persons with Disabilities DPO hearing for the Act to Eliminate Discrimination and Controversial Residential Facilities converted from psychiatric wards

2013 February

The 11th Commission on Policy for Persons with Disabilities took place on January 20, and the 12th Commission took place on February 3, hearing opinions on the guidelines of the Act to Eliminate Discrimination against Persons with Disabilities from 16 DPOs;

Association of People with Low Vision, National Federation of The Physically Disabled and Their Parents Associations, Aphasia Peer Circles, DPI Network of Women with Disabilities, Japan Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis Association, Japan Down Syndrome Society, Japanese Epilepsy Association, Japan Traumatic Brain Injury Association, Japan Association of Kidney Disease Patients, Japan Heart Association, The National Research Association for Sign Language Interpretation, Japan Myalgic Encephalomyelitis Association, Japan Stuttering Genyukai Association, Japan Association of Community Life Support of Persons with Psychiatric Disabilities, Japan Hepatitis Council, The National Research Association for Captioning

While each organization has specific issues, there were common opinions with saying they are excluded from existing support services due to difficulties to visualize their impairments, multiple discrimination, or not able to raise their own voices. Toshisaburo Ishino, the member of the Commission, said “According to the hearing, there are persons who are distinctly not eligible in existing service system.” Lack of public awareness of discrimination and lack of official statistic data to grasp the current situation were also appointed before discussing on discrimination which is clear and present. Based on the result of this hearing, the Guideline is scheduled to be approved by the Cabinet within this fiscal year through guideline drafting by the government side, public comment, and further discussion in the Commission.

At the 12th Commission, there were some remarks that considering “Residential facilities converted from psychiatric wards,” which was introduced at 54th Panel on Disability Issues in the Social Security Council, is nonsense. The Commission member Koji Onoue, the Secretary-General of DPI-Japan, said, “This idea is agaist the Aricle 19 of CRPD. There is no difference between hospital and residence in a same area in nstitutions. This idea could come out from the biased view which regards persons with disabilities as second-class citizen and they should be isolated in hospitals or institutions.”  The chair of the Commission, Jun Ishikawa, warned with saying that it is necessary to exchange opinions with other Commission members before conclusion.

Tenure of Toshihiro Higashi, the head of Disability Policy Reform Office, and the Office staffs expires at the 12th Commission.  The chair expressed the grastitute to Higashi, and he replied, “Now we are at a new stage after CRPD raification. The Commission has a major role to play.” The Office staffs has supported numbers of committees and panels and contributed a lot to the Disability Policy Reform up until the ratification. We, DPI-Japan also appreciate to their remarkable efforts.

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18 March 2014

Issues to tackle after CRPD ratification

2013 January

 On December 4, 2013, UN Convention on the rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD) ratification was approved at the general meeting of the Diet Upper House. Ratification will be deposited to United Nations through certification by the Emperor, then officially decided around February 2014. We have experienced a lot such as UN ad-hoc committee since 2002, Draft convention adoption in the 8th ad-hoc meeting in 2006, Ratification block in March 2009 by Japan Disability Forum (JDF) and some Diet members, Disability Policy Reform. While the reform was not enough, there were certain result; Basic Law for Disabled Persons revised, Act to eliminate Discrimination against Persons with Disabilities established, and Disabled People Employment Promotion Act Revised etc.  Our effort, CRPD ratification after harmonization of domestic laws is highly appreciated in international society.

 But it is just the beginning. Japan now has legal obligation as a contacting country. All of our efforts until the CRPD ratification was just a first step and now the second step toward the complete implementation of CRPD has just began. What issues do we have to tackle from now?

 To begin with, it is necessary to upgrade the Act to Eliminate Discrimination against Persons with Disabilities. The current Act stipulates that conflict alleviation is done by the existing support systems, but it is doubtful whether it works. The mid-term effort to build a system to rescue the victims of discrimination in the Act is required. Until 2016 when the Act is in effect, the thematic Guidelines to implement the Act is scheduled to be prepared by each Ministry in charge. Provision of reasonable accommodation in commuting, for example, cannot be solved only in a Ministry of transportation. It is necessary to define what discrimination is, based on Article 2 of the Convention. It is regrettable that private companies are, in the Act, obliged to “make best efforts” in provision of reasonable accommodation.  The Convention Article 12 recognizes that persons with disabilities enjoy legal capacity on an equal basis with others, and also stipulates the appropriate measures to provide access by persons with disabilities to the support.  For example, Adult Ward in the existing system has complete proxy. Compulsory hospitalization system in the Mental Health Law also needs revision.  According to the Convention Article 19, which recognizes the equal right of all persons with disabilities to choose their place of residence and where and with whom they live on an equal basis with others and are not obliged to live in a particular living arrangement, the governments are obliged to promote the transfer of the persons with disabilities who have no choice but stay at hospitals to communities.  Regarding inclusive education stipulated in the Convention Article 24, Order for Enforcement of the School Education Act was revised and come into effect in 2013 October. In he revised Act, the school to go is to be decided under “Comprehensive judgment.” Now children with disabilities legally must not always go to special support schools, but to what extent can the Act actualize Inclusive Education? Besides, the Article 33 mentions that establishment of a coordination mechanism within government for national implementation and monitoring,  and persons with disabilities and their representative organizations shall be involved and participate fully in the monitoring process. How can it to be secured?

 There are a lot to do such as upgrading Persons with Disabilities Abuse Prevention Act. The Convention aims for our inclusive society. We have to make use of it as much as possible.

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