Message Video from the directors of the JFD about “2020 International Day of Sign Languages.”


On December 19, 2017, the 72nd UN General Assembly proclaimed September 23rd as the “International Day of Sign Languages.” September 23rd is also the day of establishment of the World Federation of the Deaf in 1951. Let’s encourage UN member states to raise awareness of sign language throughout the society so that sign language is regarded equal to spoken language and guarantee the human rights of Deaf people! “Sign language is life.” Congratulations on the 3rd International Day of Sign Languages!

UN Website – International Day of Sign Languages

Situation of COVID-19 in Japan in International Sign

Situation of COVID-19 in Japan

While COVID-19 is spreading throughout the world, I, Ota, chair of the International Committee, will like to report on behalf of the Japanese Federation of the Deaf to our Deaf friends around the world about the current situation of Japanese Deaf.

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Views on Sign Language Interpreters in Medical Settings for Infectious Diseases


Translated from Japanese to English by
The National Research Association for Sign Lanugage Interpretation.

Views on Sign Language Interpreters in Medical Settings
for Infectious Diseases

With the worldwide spread of the new Coronavirus, COVID-19, concern about infection of sign language interpreters in medical settings has been increasing.

There is a fear of infections to registered sign language interpreters who receive no health care coverage or paid sick leave in the current system “providing interpretation by mainly dispatching registered sign language interpreters”. In addition, possible infection of staff members at Information Centers for the Deaf, mostly running under the designated manager system, would have a great impact on these facilities’ operations.

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Our Movement for Promoting the Establishment of a Sign Language Law in Japan

Our Movement for Promoting the Establishment
of a Sign Language Law in Japan

The Circumstances Around Deaf People in Japan

For over 70 years, the Japanese Federation of the Deaf has, has fought to realize an environment where sign language communication and information access are guaranteed. After the establishment of the country’s first school for the deaf in Kyoto in 1878 (Meiji 11), the number of schools increased to over a hundred across the course of the Taisho (1912 – 1926) and Showa periods (1926 – 1989). The alumni associations of these schools became the foundation for the establishment of groups and national organizations for the deaf, which would become the driving force for bringing the issue of social recognition of sign language to the government.

However, that’s not to say it’s been a smooth road from the time when deaf persons would be scorned with derogatory terms like oshi and tsumbo to now, when the establishment of a law surrounding sign language is now being considered. To begin with, after 1920 (Taisho 9), it became a common misunderstanding in deaf schools that sign language would impede Japanese language acquisition, so many of these schools purposely eradicated sign language from practice. Even so, the children, students, and graduates and deaf schools continued to use sign language for communication. The fact that sign language continued to be used and develop even throughout a period of intense suppression shows the innate human need for language acquisition. In spite of this, over a long period of time, sign language acquisition continued to be put off by deaf education, and deaf people felt a sense of inferiority for using it.

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The Five Sign Language Rights

The Five Sign Language Rights

The 5 Rights Created through a Domestic Research Survey by the Project to Push the Creation of a Sign Language Law

The Japanese Federation of the Deaf (JFD) received assistance from the Nippon Foundation in 2010 and started the project to push to creation of a sign language law, where they ran domestic and international surveys. In the international survey, they looked at countries and regions which had established sign language laws, and the results are summarized in “The Status of Legal Recognition of Sign Language in Countries Around the World”. In contrast, the domestic survey, which formed the foundation of the “five sign language rights” covered in this section, was run with the intention to make clear what deaf people’s experiences have been when it comes to discrimination against sign language.

Extracting data from surveys conducted in the past, individual hearings of deaf persons, back catalogues and related materials from the JFD’s newspaper bulletin Japanese News for the Deaf, and other documents and material related to deaf and hearing impaired persons, we counted 1,214 cases of discrimination against sign language, and separated them into the following five different categories as a result of our analysis.

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President and the Secretariat of ICSD visit Japan (January 20th through January 23rd, 2020)

to original Japanese version

International Committee of the Sports for the Deaf (ICSD, the governing body of international deaf sports and organizer of the Deaflympic Games, had its 47th congress in Italy, from December 9th through 11th, 2019. The Congress elected Mr. Kang Chen(陳康)from Taiwan for the new president of ICSD. Mr. Chen is the first ICSD president from Asia.

The 47th ICSD Congress was held (Italy, December 9th and 11th, 2019) (Japanese)

With an aim to discuss ICSD reform as well as to strengthen the relationship between the Japanese Federation of the Deaf (JFD) and ICSD, JFD invited Mr. Chen and the CEO, Mr. Dmitry Rebrov to Japan from January 20 through January 23, 2020. Mr. Chen has successfully led 2009 Summer Deaflympic Games in Asia, held in Taipei, Taiwan, while the deaf sports has been historically initiated by European countries. JFD is determined to be committed to the further development of deaf sport, by working with the ICSD and the chairperson of the ICSD Reform Committee.

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Obituary: Dr. Yerker Andersson, WFD Honorary President

Dr. Yerker Andersson, Honorary President of World Federation of the Deaf, passed away on July 18th 2016, in Frederick, Maryland, United States. Dr. Andersson served two terms of WFD Vice President (1975-1983) and three terms of the WFD presidency (1983-1995), devoting himself to networking deaf associations around the globe to expand their participation to WFD, as well as to protecting human rights of the deaf persons through international organizations including the United Nations (UN). He is the first deaf person addressing in the UN General Assembly in 1992. We, Japanese Federation of the Deaf, send our deepest deference to his commitment and profound condolences to his loss.

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President’s message in enforcing “Act for Eliminating Discrimination Against Persons with Disabilities” and “Amended Act on Promotion for Disabled Persons’ Employment” starting on April 1st, 2016

Message in Japanese Sign Language:

Message in International Sign:

Flash report – March 3rd, 2016 – Arguments in writing for “Japanese Sign Language Act” adopted by 100% of local municipal councils throughout the country

“Flash report”, March 3rd, 2016


Japanese Federation of the Deaf (JFD) would like to announce with great pleasure that the local council of Haga-machi in Tochigi prefecture adopted the arguments in writing (as a kind of petition) requesting Government of Japan to enact “Japanese Sign Language Act” today.

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One year since Great East Japan Earthquake and Tsunami

Today marks the first year since the massive earthquake and tsunami that hit Japan on March 11, 2011. The entire world was shaken by the news of this devastating natural disaster.

The earthquake was so intense that we could barely stand on our feet and the enormous tsunami that followed washed away towns along the northeastern coast, destroying everything and killing thousands of people. Even worse, it triggered the world’s worst nuclear crisis in history.

At that moment, we could do nothing but just stare at televisions feeling helpless and vulnerable to the power of Mother Nature. However, we knew that immediate action was needed to help Deaf survivors and announced a meeting with ZENTSUKEN and Japanese Association of Sign Language Interpreters (JASLI) to organize Central Headquarters for Disaster Relief for Deaf People in the Great East Japan Earthquake to respond to this disaster.

Thanks to all the supporters, we were able to provide relief goods, to dispatch sign language interpreters as well as to host events to encourage survivors and to offer emotional support service in the affected area.

We raised more than 60 million yen (USD 750,000) to support Deaf survivors through the generosity of friends from all over the world. I would like to take this opportunity to thank you for your contribution and encouragement.

Over the course of the year, it seems things are gradually settling down. However, many people still are going through a hard, tough time, some lost their job, some still live in temporary homes and some suffer from trauma. The journey to recovery has just begun and we are committed to support them until they get back their normal life.

As for relief funds, the fundraising target amount has not been achieved and we do not have enough funds to distribute necessary money for all the Deaf survivors. As the deadline for accepting donations has been extended, we ask your continuous support for our relief efforts.

We cannot recover everything which was lost by this tragedy, but we will stand by the people from the disaster-stricken areas and continue to support them until they recover their physical and emotional health and get back their normal lives with a safe place to live and a decent job before the earthquake and tsunami.

Although it is expected that recovery will take many years, we will dedicate ourselves to help them as long as we are needed. Your continued support and contribution will be greatly appreciated. Thank you.

March 11, 2012
Fujisaburo Ishino
Chief, Great East Japan Earthquake Central Headquarters