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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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