Inputs on Sign Language Interpreting for the New Lay Judge System – Discussion with the Supreme Court –

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

From the Editorial Column of The Japan Times Online, Sunday, Feb. 18, 2007:

By May 2009, Japan will introduce a lay judge system in which ordinary citizens will take part in criminal proceedings as judges to help decide the outcomes of trials. …The use of lay judges is a big change in the nation’s legal system. The Supreme Court, the Justice Ministry, the Japan Federation of Bar Associations, lawyers, law professors and others need to make concerted efforts to enlighten the public about the lay judge system, to facilitate their participation in it and to eliminate potential problems with it.

The Japanese Federation of the Deaf (JFD) and Japanese Association of Sign Language Interpreters (JASLI) had a meeting with the Supreme Court regarding the new Lay Judge System on March 6th. From JFD, General Secretary Eiichi Konaka, and Norihiko Nishitaki (Board Member and Head of the Sign Language Interpretation Section) participated.

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Learning about the Situation in Mongolia Now: bilateral teleconference conducted

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

A bilateral teleconference between the Deaf youth in Mongolia and Japan was conducted at the World Bank Tokyo Office Public Information Center (PIC Tokyo) on February 9, 2009, co-organized by PIC Tokyo, Japan NGO Network on Disabilities (JANNET) and the Nippon Foundation. Mr. Tomomitsu Miyahira, a Central Committee Member of the Youth Section of the Japanese Federation of the Deaf, participated in this teleconference as one of the participants representing Japan.

Through the videophone connecting the two countries, the participants conducted active discussions on the theme “Education and Society in Japan and Mongolia through the Eyes of the Youth”.

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20th Anniversary of the National Certification of Sign Language Interpreters

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

This year marks the 20th Anniversary of the National Sign Language Interpreter Certification System. In that regard, the system has become a 20-year-old “full grown-up”. In May 1989, the Ministry of Health and Welfare (current Ministry of Health, Labour, and Welfare) made an announcement regarding the “Project on the examination and certification of sign language interpreting knowledge and skills”, which was the first official regulation on sign language interpreting in our country. In June of the same year, the government designated the examination conducted by the Information and Culture Center for the Deaf (ICCD) to be the official testing system of the nation, and announced that those who passed the examination would be officially certified by the Minister of Health and Welfare to be a “National Certified Sign Language Interpreter (Shuwa Tsuyakushi)”. As of January 15th 2009, 2015 sign language interpreters throughout Japan have been accredited by this national certification system. Following are comments on this 20-year history of the certification system from the representatives of the related organizations.

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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.

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We’re Not Getting Any Information! – The Plight of the Deaf During the Chuetsu Oki Earthquake

from 1 August 2007 Issue of Japanese Deaf News, JFD’s monthly newspaper:

Disrupted Lifeline

On July 16, 2007, at about 10:13 in the morning, a strong earthquake originating off the Chuetsu coast hit Niigata Prefecture on the opposite side of Japan from Tokyo. Strong quakes over the Japanese scale of 6+ were recorded in Kariu Village in Kashiwazaki City, Niigata Prefecture and in Iizunacho in Nagano Prefecture. Damages were largest around Kashiwazaki City, where many houses throughout the city collapsed. After the earthquake, major lifelines supplying electricity, gas and water were cut off, and fax and emails were not working. No casualties of the Deaf were reported in Nagano Prefecture.

Buried Underneath the Furniture

Mr. and Mrs. Kimura experienced the earthquake while at home in Kashiwazaki City. Mitsu Kimura’s legs were caught underneath the PC rack which fell on her, but narrowly escaped using her hands. Yoshifumi, her husband was totally buried under the large set of drawers and only his hands could be seen. Mitsu desperately asked for help from neighbors by using gestures and finally managed to get him out.

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Need for Speedy Access to Information in Emergency Situations

from 1 August 2007 Issue of Japanese Deaf News, JFD’s monthly newspaper:

No positive response to request from the Deaf after the Chuetsu earthquake –
Another request made by the Japanese Federation of the Deaf

NHK (Japan Broadcasting Corporation) started to broadcast emergency broadcasting right after the Chuetsu earthquake but there was neither captioning nor sign language interpretation on these broadcasts, nor was there any new in sign language.

The Japanese Federation of the Deaf (JFD) was concerned that the request they had sent to NHK after the Noto Peninsula earthquake on March 25, 2007 had been neglected and commented that Deaf persons had been watching TV screens just to increase their anxiety. JFD sent a request again on July 18, 2007 to NHK, stating that, as a public broadcasting station, NHK should provide sign language interpretation and captioning on emergency broadcasting.

Deaf persons can not receive information through audio broadcasting. Information on evacuation, aftershocks, rescue, recovery and weather is vital to victims in the affected areas. JFD also sent a request letter to the local TV station in Niigata to ensure information access for the Deaf.

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Winter Deaflympics Held in Salt Lake City, U.S.A.

from 15 February 2007 Issue of Japanese Deaf News, JFD’s monthly newspaper:

Prime Minister Abe signing to the Japanese athletes

The 16th Winter Deaflympics was held in Salt Lake City, Utah, U.S.A. from February 1 to 10, 2007, hosted by the International Committee of Sports for the Deaf (ICSD). A total of 314 athletes from 24 countries competed in Alpine Skiing, Snowboarding, Cross Country Skiing, Ice Hockey, and Curling.

Japan sent a delegation of 39 people, including coaches, staff, etc. The 17 athletes from Japan competed in 11 different categories of 3 competitions: Alpine Skiing, Snowboarding, and Cross Country Skiing. The athletes have been practicing hard for the Deaflympics in special training camps.

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Showa University Hospital to be the First Japanese University Hospital to Open an Out-patient Clinic for the Deaf

from 1 February 2007 Issue of Japanese Deaf News, JFD’s monthly newspaper:

Showa University Hospital (Shinagawa, Tokyo) will start the “Out-patient clinic for the Deaf” from March 3, 2007. This initiative is the first of its kind in Japan to be undertaken by a university hospital.

The concept of this clinic is to offer “out-patient clinic services with special consideration for persons with hearing disabilities”. It starts with any disorder within the department of internal medicine. At the moment, the clinic opens every Saturday mornings of odd weeks with appointments. Patients can choose means of information access such as sign language interpretation and written communication at the time of making appointments.

Varied assistive devices, which were developed by Dr. Eikoh Takahashi, Assistant Professor of Department of Public Health, Showa University, will be available at the clinic. Dr. Takahashi is the writer of the “Let’s Go to Hospital” column and the respondent of the Q&A Section of the Japanese Deaf News.

Moreover, Ms Atuko Kurakata, President of the Tokyo Federation of the Deaf, and the first Deaf pharmacist in Japan, Ms Kumi Hayase are included on the external advisory board.

Details are available on the web site of the Showa University Hospital at: http://www.showa-u.ac.jp/hospital/hatanodai/SUH/

Tsukuba University of Technology Enrollment Ceremony

from 1 May 2006 Issue of Japanese Deaf News, JFD’s monthly newspaper:

New Students Begin Freshman Year With High Hopes and Dreams

First Enrollment Ceremony since Its Start as a 4-Year University

Newly enrolled freshmen listen attentively to the speeches

President Ohnuma giving his speech to the students

The Tsukuba University of Technology (NTUT), the first educational institution in the world providing higher education to students with visual and hearing disabilities, held its first Enrollment Ceremony to welcome new freshman-year students since its rebirth as a 4-year university. (Report and photos by Akitoshi Mochida)

On April 7, 2006, the National University Corporation, Tsukuba University of Technology held its Enrollment (Matriculation) Ceremony at the Tsukuba International Conference Center. The Faculty of Industrial Technology, where the Deaf students study, is divided into 2 departments: the Department of Industrial Information (accepting 35 freshmen this year) and the Department of Synthetic Design (accepting 15 new students).

The University’s education is aimed to provide specialized technology to enable students with visual and hearing impairments to lead independent and self-supportive lives and to become leaders who contribute to society.

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ILO Expert Group Meeting on Inclusion of People with Disabilities in Vocational Training

from 15 April 2006 Issue of Japanese Deaf News, JFD’s monthly newspaper:

Feb. 14~16, 2006, UN ESCAP Convention Center, Bangkok, Thailand

Making Inputs from the Standpoint of the Deaf

Participants of ILO Expert Group Meeting (Front row, extreme left: Director Ogura of WFD RSA/P)

ILO (International Labour Organization) held a 3-day meeting on “Inclusion of People with Disabilities in Vocational Training” from February 14 to February 16, 2006 at the UN ESCAP Convention Center in Bangkok, Thailand.

Participants of the meeting were governmental officials and representatives of corporate employer organizations as well as representatives of persons with disabilities including Mr. Topong Kulkhanchit (DPI Asia-Pacific), representatives of blind organizations from Malaysia and Thailand, and Director Ogura of WFD RSA/P.

On both February 14th and 15th, a video conference was set up, connecting the Bangkok Workshop and the ILO headquarters in Geneva. Ms. Barbara Murray, ILO Senior Specialist on Disability participated in the discussion from Geneva, together with her colleagues.

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