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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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