JDF (Japan Disability Forum) Seminar on the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD)

from 1 January 2009 Issue of Japanese Deaf News, JFD’s monthly newspaper:

“Reasonable Accommodation”

A seminar on the CRPD was held by the Japan Disability Forum (an alliance of the major disability-related organizations of Japan) on Nov 29th at the Nadao Hall of the Japanese Council of Social Welfare at Kasumigaseki in Tokyo. The theme was “Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities will change our lives –how do we effectively utilize reasonable accommodation in our daily life?”

First, the Chairperson of the JDF Management Committee, Mr. Katsunori Fujii (Director of the Japan Council on Disability) reported on Japan’s situation regarding the conclusion of international human rights instruments such as the Convention on Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination, the International Covenants on Human Rights, the Convention on the Elimination of Discrimination Against Women, and the Convention on the Rights of the Child. Mr. Fujii also reported on the contents of the recent meeting with the government regarding CRPD, as well as recent endeavors such as the results of local workshops and events hosted by JFD.

In the report, Mr. Fujii mentioned that the Japanese government seems to be considering the ratification of the Convention in the near future, but stressed that a superficial ratification without adjusting the laws in Japan to conform to the Convention would not be accepted. He pointed out that the key issue we have is how to reflect the principles of the Convention into the revision of the Fundamental Law for Disabled Persons and the Law for Supporting Independence of Persons with Disabilities.

The Co-chair of the World Network of Users and Survivors of Psychiatry (WNUSP), Ms. Tina Minkowitz, gave a keynote speech from the point of view of a person with psycho-social disabilities. Giving some concrete examples of reasonable accommodation in the work settings, she explained that it is important for the implementation of the convention that the legal capacity of people with disabilities be acknowledged and they can make their own decisions provided with the needed support.

In the afternoon, persons with disabilities expressed their opinions, one of whom was Mr. Tadashi Matsumoto, Head of the Social Welfare Section of the Japanese Federation of the Deaf, who explained that the reasonable accommodation for the Deaf would be the provision of access to information and communication at the work place and other places, and in order for that to be accomplished, sign language interpreting and note taking services are necessary.

The panelists of the panel discussion were representatives from the Ministry of Health, Labor and Welfare, the Ministry of Education, Science, and Culture, representatives of the Japanese Federation of Organizations of the Disabled Persons, Inclusion Japan, and, as a representative of persons with disabilities, a translator with pervasive developmental disorders. The panelists exchanged their opinions on reasonable accommodation in the employment and educational settings.

The representative of the Ministry of Health, Labor and Welfare said, ‘further deliberation is needed to decide whether providing a helper should be included in reasonable accommodation. It is not clear what an excessive burden actually is since it differs in every case.’ Also, it was mentioned that even though there are anti-discriminatory regulations for persons with disabilities, there are no penalties for violations of the regulations, appealing the need to set standards for reasonable accommodation and to establish legal measures to ensure the enjoyment of rights by persons with disabilities.

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