Experts of the Committee on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities Commend Japan on Providing Compensation to Victims of Eugenic Surgery, Ask Questions on Institutionalisation and Inclusive Education
Committee on the Rights of Persons CRPD/22/13 Rev.2
with Disabilities 23 August 2022
Experts of the Committee on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities Commend Japan on Providing Compensation to Victims of Eugenic Surgery, Ask Questions on Institutionalisation and Inclusive Education
The Committee on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities today concluded its consideration of the initial report of Japan on its implementation of the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities. Committee Experts commended Japan’s compensation of victims of eugenic surgery, while asking questions on institutionalisation and inclusive education.
Jonas Ruskus, Committee Expert and Country Co-Rapporteur, welcomed the provision of lump-sum compensation to persons who received eugenic surgery under the former eugenic protection law.
Mr. Ruskus said that the perpetuation of the institutionalisation of persons with disabilities in residential care settings raised serious concerns. He asked if the State party had taken steps to address eugenic attitudes within institutions. What measures had been taken to establish independent living conditions for persons with disabilities?
Mr. Ruskus also expressed concern about regress observed as regards the education of children with disabilities. Some new national legislation promoted special segregated education of children with disabilities, subjecting them to a medical assessment, resulting in the denial of inclusive education. A Committee Expert asked about policies or strategies for promoting accessibility in regular schools and inclusive education.
The delegation said in 1996, the eugenic protection law was amended, and provisions concerning eugenic surgeries had been abolished. The law’s aim now was to protect maternal health. The preamble of the Former Eugenics Protection Law One-time Payment Law expressed remorse and apologies, and 3.2 million yen was provided in compensation to each victim of forced sterilisation.
In order to support the transition of persons with disabilities into the community, the Ministry of Health, Labour and Public Welfare provided services such as housing for persons about to leave hospitals and institutions. From April 2021, training had been provided to workers at such facilities on preventing abuse.
On education, the delegation said that children with disabilities had the choice whether to attend normal schools or special schools. Those receiving support in inclusive education settings had doubled in recent years. An increasing number of children with hearing or visual impediments were opting to attend inclusive education.
In concluding remarks, Kozo Honsei, Deputy Permanent Representative of Japan to the United Nations Office at Geneva, thanked the Committee for the dialogue, which had provided many valuable take-aways. The State party would next discuss concluding observations with relevant stakeholders, and make full use of them to achieve the full rights of persons with disabilities in Japan.
In her concluding remarks, Miyeon Kim, Committee Expert and Country Co-Rapporteur, said that important issues had been raised in the dialogue, such as the absence of a procedural remedial act and the lack of legal grounds for reasonable accommodation in various aspects of life, among other issues. Ms. Kim urged Japan to continue to engage in dialogue with civil society organizations. She expressed hope that Japan would become a world leader in upholding the rights of persons with disabilities.
The delegation of Japan consisted of representatives of the Commission on Policy for Persons with Disabilities; Cabinet Office; Ministry of Foreign Affairs; Ministry of Internal Affairs and Communications; Ministry of Justice; Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology; Ministry of Health, Labour and Welfare; Ministry of Land, Infrastructure, Transport and Tourism; and the Permanent Mission of Japan to United Nations Office at Geneva.
The Committee will issue its concluding observations on the report of Japan at the end of its twenty-seventh session, which concludes on 9 September. Summaries of the public meetings of the Committee can be found here, while webcasts of the public meetings can be found here. The programme of work of the Committee’s twenty-seventh session and other documents related to the session can be found here.
The Committee will next meet in public on Tuesday, 23 August at 3 p.m. to review the combined second and third periodic report of New Zealand (CRPD/C/NZL/2-3).
The Committee has before it the initial report of Japan (CRPD/C/JPN/1).
Presentation of Report
KAZUYUKI YAMAZAKI, Permanent Representative of Japan to the United Nations Office at Geneva, said that the Tokyo 2020 Olympic and Paralympic Games held last summer were opportunities to promote the “barrier-free mindset”, whereby everyone respected and supported each other’s individuality and personality regardless of disabilities. There were also plans to advance urban development in terms of universal design in Tokyo to increase opportunities for persons with disabilities and realise a fully inclusive society.
The Tokyo Games had spurred advancements in making facilities more accessible. Advancements had also been made in preparing for natural disasters and rebuilding after they struck. While progress had been made, Japan recognised that it still needed to resolve various issues to realise a fully inclusive society. The Government of Japan would consider this dialogue as it continued to engage in addressing these issues.
Japan believed that human rights were universal values, and that the protection of human rights was the basic responsibility of all countries. Based on this belief, Japan had been promoting human rights diplomacy through dialogue and cooperation.
SATOSHI KATAHIRA, Deputy Director-General of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Japan and head of the delegation, said that issues faced by persons with disabilities had not always been given sufficient recognition during the COVID-19 pandemic. Persons with disabilities were affected differently in societies in crisis. To develop truly inclusive societies, it was important that all people engaged in communication and deepened mutual understanding. This was the “barrier-free mindset”.
Japan was working to promote a wide range of measures in public facilities such as schools, workplaces, hospitals, in the home, shops and restaurants, and in cultural and sports facilities. The Government recognised the importance of civil society, and had held a meeting to exchange opinions with civil society organizations in July 2020 concerning the preparation of replies to the list of issues.
The basic act for persons with disabilities stipulated the fundamental principles behind Japan’s measures regarding persons with disabilities. The basic programme for persons with disabilities served as a concrete and detailed plan for how to go about implementing these principles. Government offices and ministries had been working together to implement initiatives under this programme. However, there were still differences in the level of progress achieved in different sectors and issues that needed to be addressed.
The Government was currently preparing the fifth basic programme for persons with disabilities for 2023 to 2027 to further promote measures for supporting the independence and social participation of persons with disabilities. The Government would reflect the results of the dialogue with the Committee in the basic programme. It looked forward to receiving constructive advice from the Committee on its initiatives.
Questions by Committee Experts
JONAS RUSKUS, Committee Expert and Country Co-Rapporteur, welcomed the Japanese delegation, saying that he appreciated the quality of alternative reports provided to the Committee by Japanese organizations of persons with disabilities. Japan was obligated to recognise the human rights model of disability as codified within the Convention. Mr. Ruskus commended and acknowledged the Government’s efforts and measures taken to implement the Convention, particularly the adoption of the act for eliminating discrimination against persons with disabilities, though it still needed to be revised to fully comply with the Convention, and the adoption of the act on the promotion of the employment of persons with disabilities. The latter prohibited discrimination of persons with disabilities at workplaces, established employment quotas in public and private sectors, and obligated reasonable accommodations at the workplace. Mr. Ruskus also welcomed the act on the provision of lump-sum compensation to persons who received eugenic surgery under the former eugenic protection law.
However, the perpetuation of the institutionalisation of persons with disabilities in residential care settings raised serious concerns. Mr. Ruskus also expressed concern about regress observed as regards the education of children with disabilities. Some new national legislation promoted special segregated education of children with disabilities, subjecting them to a medical assessment, resulting in the denial of inclusive education. Mr. Ruskus was concerned that ableist and eugenic attitudes were still present in Japanese society. The Sagamihara stabbings in 2016, when 19 persons with disabilities were killed and twenty-six were injured, was a sign that huge efforts needed to be taken to raise society’s awareness on the dignity and rights of persons with disabilities. The rights of all persons with disabilities needed to be among the highest priorities in the human rights’ policy and agenda in Japan. This dialogue was a great opportunity to identify all issues and to determine the course to follow in Japan.
A Committee Expert appreciated the State party’s effort in harmonising domestic laws with the Convention, including the revision of the basic act for persons with disabilities, the act for eliminating discrimination against persons with disabilities, and the medical treatment and supervision act. What steps had the State party taken to modify or abolish existing discriminatory laws? What measures were in place to eliminate all forms of discrimination against women; children; and lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender persons with disabilities? What measures had been taken to ensure that persons with disabilities could receive support for their daily life and social life in a familiar place?
What steps had the State party taken to progress the ratification of the Optional Protocol?
The Expert called for information on the former eugenic protection act. Was Government research on the effects of the act available? Women with disabilities had been denied their reproductive health and rights under the former law. What compensation had been provided to victims of involuntary sterilisation and abortion?
Children with disabilities’ right to express their views freely on all matters affecting them was often not guaranteed. What measures had been taken to ensure freedom of expression for children with disabilities and protect the best interest of the child?
There were 8,727 children living in institutions for children with disabilities in Japan. The number of children in children's homes with some form of disability was increasing year by year. What steps had been taken to transfer children with disabilities to live in the community, and to eliminate child abuse practices in all institutional settings? What measures had been taken to combat stereotypes, prejudices and harmful practices relating to women with disabilities, including those based on sex and age, and to promote positive perceptions towards persons with disabilities?
A Committee Expert asked about work to improve the participation of persons with intellectual and psychosocial disabilities in policymaking. After the enactment of the act to eliminate discrimination against persons with disabilities and the amended disabled people employment promotion act, was discrimination against persons with disabilities decreasing? What measures had been taken to prohibit corporal punishment of children in all settings? Did the Government have any plan to survey the effect of the living environment on persons with disabilities?
Another Committee Expert asked about measures taken to encourage persons with disabilities to participate in the design, implementation and monitoring of laws and policies that would affect them. There were deep-rooted prejudices toward persons with psychosocial disabilities in Japan. What measures had been taken to combat negative stereotypes and prejudices relating to persons with disabilities? Were persons with disabilities involved in any awareness-raising programmes or training about the Convention in health and judicial systems, and in the media?
One Committee Expert asked for information on the effects of the 2021 law on reasonable accommodation and the mechanisms in place for redress. How was the media involved in disseminating awareness raising messages and in building a positive image of persons with disabilities?
A Committee Expert asked about measures to adopt a road map to ensure the implementation of legislation, policies and strategies to prevent and address discrimination against women and girls with disabilities? What measures were in place to promote the representation of women with disabilities at councils, committees and panels, and to involve them in the development of legislation, policies and programmes?
What policies and measures were in place to improve access to information and communication, particularly on official Government legislation, that conformed to accessibility standards?
Another Committee Expert said that children with disabilities were more susceptible to violence and inhuman treatment, and the claims of child victims of violence were often questioned. What measures was the State taking to ensure that the views of children with disabilities were taken into consideration? What measures had been taken to investigate and prevent violence against children with disabilities?
One Committee Expert asked about measures in place to ensure children with disabilities’ access to early intervention and inclusive services at all levels. Was due weight given to the views of children with disabilities in all matters affecting them?
MIYEON KIM, Committee Expert and Country Co-Rapporteur, asked for information on how the act for eliminating discrimination against persons with disabilities ensured measures to protect the rights of persons with disabilities.
JONAS RUSKUS, Committee Expert and Country Co-Rapporteur, asked for information on efforts to implement the human rights model of disability in legislation. What efforts were being taken to adopt this model within the disability qualification system? What measures were being taken to replace derogatory terminology regarding disabilities in legislation? What was the State party’s response to the Sagamihara stabbings? Were there plans to review the inaccurate translation of the Convention in Japanese? Did the State plan to withdraw its interpretive declaration regarding article twenty-three, paragraph four of the Convention?
The delegation said that a Paralympian lecture meeting had been carried out as an awareness raising initiative, and other similar initiatives had been carried out.
In education, children with disabilities had the opportunity to express their opinions. Children with disabilities had the choice whether to attend normal schools or special schools. Many children chose to attend normal schools, where they received special support from dedicated staff provided with Government funding.
Japan believed that the Optional Protocol was a noteworthy mechanism, however, the Government needed to consider its relationship with other Japanese legislation. The State party would take into consideration views from various sectors related to the adoption of the Optional Protocol.
The interpretive declaration was released due to legal considerations, and did not indicate that Japan would not take the rights of persons with disabilities into account.
Legal redress was in place to protect women with disabilities from sexual violence and sexual crimes. Such crimes were punishable under the Penal Code. Victims could sue perpetrators for damages. Sign language interpreters and psychologists were provided for victims as needed, and forensic interviews could be carried out in homes. The Japan Legal Support Centre provided information on support systems available for victims, and on expert lawyers. Financial support was also provided to cover attorneys’ fees. In domestic relations cases, children with disabilities aged 15 or older were questioned. Judges took necessary considerations in asking questions to these children. Training sessions were provided to judicial and prison officials, lawyers and students of legal institutions to raise awareness of the rights of persons with disabilities. Persons with disabilities were invited to join these training sessions as lecturers or teachers.
Appropriate measures were taken in response to violence and abuse of children with disabilities. If abuse by carers was recognised, the deprivation of parental authority was possible for up to two years. Training programmes had been developed and rolled out in various places to eliminate stigma against persons with mental disabilities. Persons with disabilities and their family members had participated in a study group on disability within the Ministry of Health, Labour and Welfare. Future Government policy would be considered in consultation with study groups of this kind.
Terms translated as “insanity” and “mental derangement” did not have derogatory implications in Japanese, and the Government was not considering changing these terms in legislation. “Insanity” was a legal concept used to judge whether persons had a capacity to be held responsible under the Penal Code, and “mental derangement” was a legal concept used to determine whether persons needed protection under the Police Duties Execution Act.
Businesses were prohibited from discriminating on the grounds of disability, and redress measures had been established for victims of discrimination. Labour bureaus provided necessary advice and guidance, and a conflict resolution mechanism.
There were provisions in the basic act on persons with disabilities regarding reasonable accommodation. The age, gender and degree of disability was considered regarding reasonable accommodation.
Holders of disability certificates could access various public services. A disability classification system was used to assess the services required.
The “persons with disabilities week” had been established in October, and as part of this initiative, a variety of programmes were conducted nationwide. Posters were distributed to public offices and the media nationwide, and online seminars and workshops were also held.
To support the transition of persons with disabilities into the community, the Ministry of Health, Labour and Public Welfare provided services such as housing for persons about to leave hospitals and institutions. In 2011, fees were raised for group home operators.
In 1996, the eugenic protection law was amended, and provisions concerning eugenic surgeries had been abolished. The law’s aim now was to protect maternal health. The preamble of the Former Eugenics Protection Law One-time Payment Law expressed remorse and apologies, and 3.2 million yen was provided in compensation to each victim of forced sterilisation.
Around 160 children with disabilities were subjected to physical abuse in institutions in 2021, including 97 to sexual abuse. In each prefecture, activities to prevent abuse were conducted, and guidelines on preventing abuse were distributed to local Governments. Research activities on preventing abuse were also conducted. From April 2021, training had been provided to workers at such facilities on preventing abuse.
A new law on accessible information had entered into effect in May 2022 requiring local governments to provide comprehensive information in accessible formats.
The Commission on Policy for Persons with Disabilities consisted of members approved by the Government, including 11 persons with various disabilities and three women. The Commission conducted hearings with organizations of persons with disabilities.
Statement by the Representative of the Independent Monitoring Mechanism of Japan
JUN ISHIKAWA, former Committee Expert and Chairman of the Commission on Policy for Persons with Disabilities, said that in Japan, the number of psychiatric beds was outstandingly large, and the length of stay in such hospitals outstandingly long. The number of people undergoing physical restraints in such hospitals had doubled in the past 20 years. These restraints were often applied when not necessary. No specific roadmap to change these measures had been adopted.
A Committee Expert said that the Convention required abolishing any substitute decision-making system, including regarding guardianship. Were there plans to put an end to substitute decision-making? Was there a clear date for eliminating the system of forced hospitalisation?
Another Committee Expert asked about steps taken to raise awareness about the legal capacity of persons with disabilities. The Expert was pleased to hear that after the 2016 stabbing incident, some affected persons were now living in the community. Had the incident prompted the Government to rethink practices of institutionalisation?
One Committee Expert said that opposite-sex caregiving was nearly a routine in many residential institutions, leading to serious sexual assaults. What steps had the State party taken to repeal its policy related to opposite-sex caregivers and prohibit the provision of opposite–sex caregivers without consent?
What steps was the State party taking to ensure that each municipal Government provided appropriate welfare services to meet the needs of persons with disabilities? Had the State party attempted to repeal a law that restricted the use of these services?
A Committee Expert asked if the Code of Criminal Procedure or any other law contained any guarantees of individualised support in court proceedings for persons with disabilities.
Another Committee Expert asked about measures in place to provide mobility aids and assistive devices, technologies and services for persons with disabilities, including service dogs and transportation. What incentives were provided to companies that produced mobility aids and devices?
One Committee Expert asked about how women with disabilities were represented on various public commissions and panels. Had progress been made on the amendment of the persons with disabilities abuse prevention act to require public agencies and hospitals to report to the Government? What measures were in place to ensure accessible victim support services for all women and girls with disabilities?
A Committee Expert asked if children received sufficient support in regular schools, making those schools a viable option for the students.
Another Committee Expert asked if Japan would consider implementing codes of practices related to persons with disabilities in respective fields.
One Committee Expert said that children should not have to choose between regular schools and special schools. The Convention promoted inclusion in regular schooling. Was the act on refugees and immigration considered to be discriminatory against persons with disabilities?
MIYEON KIM, Committee Expert and Country Co-Rapporteur, asked about efforts to develop evacuation plans and appropriate accommodation for persons with disabilities in emergency situations. Did the barrier-free act consider reasonable accommodation for persons with disabilities?
JONAS RUSKUS, Committee Expert and Country Co-Rapporteur, asked if the State party had taken steps to address eugenic attitudes within institutions. What measures had been taken to establish independent living conditions for persons with disabilities? He noted that group homes were considered a form of institutionalisation.
There was a lack of safeguards for the right to life, with deaths occurring due to physical and involuntary restraints in psychiatric hospitals. What measures had been taken to prevent such deaths? There was also a lack of a complaints mechanism to ensure the prevention of ill-treatment in psychiatric hospitals. What measures had been implemented to allow for reporting of ill-treatment? What more should be done to apologise to and properly address all victims of eugenic surgery?
What measures had been taken to make court buildings more accessible?
Responses by the Delegation
SATOSHI KATAHIRA, Deputy Director-General of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Japan and head of the delegation, said that eugenic ideology must be eradicated, and the Government was working toward this. To prevent the recurrence of incidents such as the Sagamihara stabbing, the Government continued to raise awareness of the ideals of the act for the elimination of discrimination of persons with disabilities. The rights of persons with disabilities were included in human rights education in schools.
In March 2022, the Chief Cabinet Secretary expressed sincere remorse about the effects of eugenic surgery on the bodies and minds of the victims.
The delegation said that in June this year, a Governmental study group had proposed a shift from involuntary hospitalisation to voluntary hospitalisation for persons with disabilities. The Government was considering revising legislation to prevent involuntary hospitalisation. There were cases where persons with disabilities could not express their will effectively, and hospitalisation protected the rights of such patients by providing them with necessary care. Hospitalisation of such persons was decided by the person’s carers and families. Psychiatric help was provided to support discharge from psychiatric hospitals.
The basic disaster management plan mentions the necessity of persons with disabilities to be appointed to disaster management councils and be involved in disaster management planning.
The act on eliminating discrimination and the “barrier free note” were developed based on the social rights model.
The Japanese Government recognised the importance of appointing same-sex carers in institutions. In bathing facilities, same-gender care was provided, and same-gender carers were provided in 94 per cent of institutions. Training would continue to be provided regarding the provision of same-sex care in institutions.
The basic plan for the adult guardianship system stated that the Government needed to continuously raise awareness about decision-making support. Training on decision-making support had been conducted for those involved in guardianship cases, including judges and lawyers. The Government was currently conducting a comprehensive review of the guardianship system, considering the aims of the Convention. Efforts to support the decision-making of the person in question were ongoing. Some parties in Japan had called for the use of the guardianship system in a timely manner, rather than its abolishment. Japan needed to fully research the recommendations of the Committee and case studies from other States regarding the decision-making system. The guardianship system would be reviewed, in accordance with the basic plan, by 2027.
The Government supported persons with intellectual disabilities’ access to justice. State-appointed council members protected the rights of such persons as necessary in court. The Japan Legal Support Centre provided legal consultations for persons with disabilities in areas where those persons lived. The human rights bodies of the Ministry of Justice also conducted consultations. The national Government and local Government bodies were required to provide access to communication for persons with disabilities who were involved in court cases. Multi-function toilet facilities were being installed in courts, and steps were being eliminated so that persons in wheelchairs could access court rooms. The Public Prosecution Office had installed ramps, automatic doors and elevators in their offices.
Japan believed that the Japanese word translated as “insanity” was not derogatory, but had recognized the claims of persons who believed it to be derogatory.
Psychiatric hospitals were required to provide appropriate medical care for persons with disabilities. In June this year, the Government had directed psychiatric hospitals not to use unnecessary physical restraints.
Operational guidelines had been developed to improve the accessibility of public websites. These guidelines complied with international accessibility guidelines, and the Government would continue to review guidelines to improve the accessibility of websites. Videos posted on the Office of the Prime Minister’s website featured sign language interpretation.
Since 1998, there had been increasing involuntary hospitalisation, and this was related to the increasing aged population. The Government aimed to nullify the practice of segregation and restraint. Surveys would be conducted of the practices.
Schools were selected based on the will of students and guardians. There were persons who wished to attend special needs schools; 90 per cent of them were children with intellectual disabilities as it was difficult for them to learn in normal schools. Such students felt more comfortable in special schools. The Government wished to enhance the services provided for such students in normal schools.
There were ongoing court cases related to the former eugenic protection act. The Government was continuing efforts to pay lump-sum compensation, and continued to extend deep remorse to victims.
There had not been any official survey conducted concerning crimes against women with disabilities, but the Ministry of Justice would consider the necessity of carrying out such a survey.
The psychiatric review board paid special attention to the rights and requests of persons with psychosocial disabilities. Based on the reviews of this board, prefectures were required to implement various measures. This review board provided a means for patients in psychiatric hospitals to file complaints. The board would in future conduct consultations with patients.
Organizations related to persons with disabilities were involved in formulating evacuation plans and providing emergency response services. If people lost houses and had no means to build a new house, temporary housing would be provided by prefectural and municipal Governments. Owners of facilities made response plans to support vulnerable people. The Government was continuing to improve the accessibility of evacuation facilities.
Under the act of eliminating discrimination of persons with disabilities, ministers and local Governments were required to cooperate on efforts to eliminate discrimination of persons with disabilities. Efforts would be made to establish a counselling system for persons with psychosocial disabilities. The competent minister could also seek a report or provide advice, guidance, or recommendations to companies.
Questions by Committee Experts
A Committee Expert asked about measures being taken to ensure that persons with disabilities enjoyed appropriate living standards in terms of housing and social protection.
JONAS RUSKUS, Committee Expert and Country Co-Rapporteur, asked about measures taken to ensure the installation of alert systems for persons with disabilities in preparation for emergencies. What measures were in place to ensure access to medical services for persons with disabilities in emergencies?
Data on persons with disabilities could be collected without their consent, for example through the “My Number” system. What measures were in place to prevent the collection of data of persons with disabilities without their consent.
Mr. Ruskus commended the State party for including questions on disabilities in recent censuses. How did Japan intend to survey women with disabilities and persons with disabilities in institutions about their living conditions?
Private psychiatric hospitals had strong influence in Government decision-making processes. How did the Government plan to ensure the representation of persons with disabilities in decision-making bodies?
A Committee Expert said that there were considerable reports of abuse committed by guardians. What was being done to address this problem?
Another Committee Expert asked if the State was preparing information about supportive decision-making in accessible formats.
One Committee Expert said that Japanese industrial standards did not have the force of binding law. As such, many websites of local Governments and administrative bodies were not accessible. What efforts were being made to enforce the industrial standards?
A Committee Expert asked about measures in place to ensure that all persons with disabilities could express their rights regarding political participation. Was voting information provided in accessible formats?
Another Committee Expert said that the rate of marriage for persons with disabilities was lower than the general marriage rate. This may be due to the current civil code stating that disability was grounds for divorce. What was the Government doing to address this problem? What support was provided to single parents with disabilities?
What measures were in place to ensure that aged persons with disabilities could use welfare services free of charge?
A Committee Expert asked about legal provisions to prevent the separation of children with disabilities from their parents. Sex education was banned in some educational institutions. What measures were in place to ensure access to such education for all children with disabilities?
In September 2019, guidelines on hiring persons with disabilities were provided to local Governments. What measures were in place to increase quotas for the employment of persons with disabilities, and to support employed persons?
A Committee Expert said that in school ceremonies, all students were forced to stand and sing the national anthem. No alternatives were provided to children with disabilities. What alternative measures were being considered?
Were there policies or strategies to allocate a budget for promoting accessibility in regular schools and inclusive education?
A Committee Expert said that in 2016, the number of children with disabilities in regular classes was over 1,500, but this number decreased to around 1,200 in 2021. What measures were in place to ensure that deaf and blind students received a quality education? What measures were in place to prevent schools from rejecting students based on disabilities?
Legislation limited assistance for persons with disabilities regarding voting. Absentee ballots were only permitted for persons with severe physical disabilities. What steps was the State party taking to allow for personal assistants to accompany persons with disabilities at ballot stations?
Persons with disabilities could not access social benefits while holding high-level positions such as in parliament. Some parliament members could not access personal assistants while serving in parliament. Did the State have any plans to abolish this legislation?
Responses by the Delegation
During the COVID-19 pandemic, the Government took measures to prevent the spread of COVID-19 in psychiatric hospitals. Hospitals had been instructed to respond appropriately when infections were found. Discharge from hospitals was encouraged through peer-support programmes.
At the age of 65, programmes of Government services changed. Local Governments were encouraged to provide the most appropriate services to aged persons.
Sex education was provided by schools for children with disabilities. Teaching staff were given training on sex education.
Applicants were not excluded from accessing public housing based on disability alone.
Law enforcement agencies conducted investigations when discrimination of women with disabilities could constitute a crime, and prosecuted perpetrators accordingly.
If a person had limited capacity to make judgements due to a disability, and was not accompanied by a designated assistant, such persons could be denied entry into Japan in consideration of the various impacts on society and the persons associated with the disability. The Government went through strict procedures, including medical judgements, when judging the appropriateness of denying entry into Japan. The Government believed that the immigration law was not discriminatory against persons with disabilities.
Facilities in Japan for persons with disabilities were not surrounded by fences or walls. People living in facilities could spend time outside the facilities, and could go on walks to view cherry blossoms. Approximately 150,000 people lived in group homes established within the communities. Support centres for persons with disabilities living in group homes were established in municipalities.
Regarding free of charge or low-cost accommodation, the Government had amended the act of social welfare to prevent so-called “poverty businesses”.
The Policy Commission was preparing the next basic plan for persons with disabilities, scrutinising policies on persons with disabilities one by one.
Budget related to welfare services had been increased three times to 14 billion dollars. Hospitalisation costs was subsidised.
Persons with disabilities needed to apply to local Governments to use mobility support. The Government provided subsidies for the development of assistive devices.
Courts could dismiss applications for divorce of persons with disabilities, taking into account all circumstances. In judicial practice, divorces were only granted in cases when specific measures for the subsequent medical treatment and life of the person with a mental illness were facilitated.
Considering the importance of making students understand the significance of the flag and anthem, including those of other countries, and fostering an attitude to respect these, teaching about the national flag and anthem to students was implemented in schools. Reasonable accommodation was necessary, especially for children with physical disability. It was also necessary to encourage children without disabilities to understand reasonable accommodation.
The Government aimed to improve reasonable accommodation measures in schools. Those receiving support in inclusive education settings had doubled in recent years. An increasing number of children with hearing or visual impediments were opting to attend inclusive education.
The personal information law required that businesses obtained consent before collecting data on persons with disabilities, and there were rules governing the handling of such information. For the My Number system, security measures were in place to prevent the leaking of personal information. All persons were able to access their own personal information that the Government collected in this system.
Persons with parental authority had the right to choose the place of residence of their children. Parental authority could be suspended based on the best interests of children, and was not suspended on the basis of disability. In the case of divorce, parental authority was determined in the family court.
There were 169 cases of abuse of funds by guardians in 2021. In the case of misconduct, guardianship could be possibly stripped under the Japanese Civil Code.. There were legal provisions to protect the savings of persons under guardianship.
Since 2019, the Government had surveyed the status of efforts by local governments on employment of persons with disabilities, and measures were implemented in response to the results of these surveys. To assist the employment of persons with disabilities, facilities should be arranged based on the characteristics of the disability.
The legal employment rate was reviewed each five years.
Braille and spoken information were provided on elections, and sign language interpreters and captions were provided for television broadcasts of elections. Proxy persons provided support for persons with disabilities at ballot boxes.
Support services for Diet members with disabilities were funded by the Upper House.
Central and local Governments were required to provide information in accessible formats under legislation. The Government would work to raise the accessibility of website information.
SATOSHI KATAHIRA, Deputy Director-General of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Japan and head of the delegation, expressed appreciation for the intensive and comprehensive dialogue.
KOZO HONSEI, Deputy Permanent Representative of Japan to the United Nations Office at Geneva, thanked the Committee for the dialogue. Mr. Honsei was deeply impressed that many people from Japan had visited Geneva to witness the dialogue. The dialogue had provided many valuable take-aways. The State party would next discuss concluding observations with relevant stakeholders, and make full use of them to achieve the full rights of persons with disabilities in Japan.
MIYEON KIM, Committee Expert and Country Co-Rapporteur, thanked the delegation for its cooperation in the dialogue. Important issues had been raised, such as the absence of a procedural remedial act, the lack of legal grounds for reasonable accommodation in various aspects of life, the absence of official recognition of sign language, gender-based violence against persons with disabilities, the absence of a national human rights monitoring system, and ratification of the Optional Protocol, among other issues. The Committee urged the State party to implement the Convention and the Committee’s concluding observations fully. Ms. Kim further urged Japan to continue to improve the rights of persons with disabilities, and to continue to engage in dialogue with civil society organizations. She expressed hope that Japan would become a world leader in upholding the rights of persons with disabilities.
ROSEMARY KAYESS, Committee Chair, said that the wealth of information provided to the Committee had made the dialogue a very worthwhile procedure.
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