About the Earthquake

Dear All,

First of all, we would like to express our sincere gratitude to all of you for showing your heartfelt concerns and condolences in the extremely difficult time.

We, the Japanese Federation of the Deaf, have already launched the “Headquarters for Disaster Relief for deaf people in the Great East Japan Earthquake”. We are doing our utmost to gather information about deaf victims and support of them, and providing it on our main website.

We have created an English page with information on the earthquake, including details on where to send donations:

Earthquake Information in English: http://www.jfd.or.jp/en/quake2011

We cordially ask you to refrain from directly contacting the disaster-stricken area about donations and volunteering.

Thank you for understanding.

Best regards,
Japanese Federation of the Deaf

WFD President acknowledges support towards JFD’s activities for developing laws

On behalf of Japanese Federation of the Deaf, we would like to announce that we received the following statement by Mr. Markku Jokinen, the President of the World Federation of the Deaf, which acknowledges support to our activities to develop two following laws: Access to Information & Communication Act (Tentative) and Sign Language Act (Tentative).

Along with the President’s statement, we would like to go forward with strong will and positive intent to work on development of the two laws to promote human rights of deaf persons.

Statement by President Jokinen
translated into Japanese

(PFD file)
Statement by President Jokinen
in English

(PFD file)

Enjoying Deaflympic Sports with the Medalists: Deaflympic Mini Festival

from 1 February 2010 Issue of Japanese Deaf News, JFD’s monthly newspaper:

For further awareness of the Deaflympic Games to the deaf children, Japanese Federation of the Deaf- Sports Committee (JFD-SC) organized their first Deaflympic Mini Festival at the Toyama Sunrise gymnasium, Shinjuku, Tokyo, on December 27, 2009. 70 people participated to the event, including 30 deaf junior and senior high school students, medalists and athletes performed at the Summer Deaflympic Games in Taipei, managing staff members of the deaf sports organizations, and students and faculty from Tsukuba University of Technology.

The program started with a lecture, “What is Deaflympic Games?” by Yutaka Osugi, JFD-SC Education and Development Division, and screening of the promotion DVD of the Deaflympic Games, and went on to the trial session of the Deaflympic sports. In table tennis, volleyball, and 20 meter shuttle run, the medalists had guidance and coaching to the individual children, which made the Deaflympic Games familiar to the participants.

The children enjoyed trying the shuttle run, using the equipment to convert the perceived sound into light and images for the cooperation of the Tsukuba University of Technology. They also had a stamp collection at the trial areas and quiz, and the winners received the Taipei Deaflympic goods.

Shoji Yamane, President of the JFD-SC, commented “We will make more effort to raise public awareness of the deaf sports for further development of the Deaf sports”.

Deaf Badge for Relief: disaster preparedness by a local sign language club

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

The members of a sign language club of Tsuru, Yamanashi, produced an emergency badge for deaf people.

The deaf badge, with a green, cut-out felt cloth butterfly placed on a yellow circle, is designed to be worn like an athlete number singlet, so that the surrounding people can identify the deaf person on the spot. The butterfly ID is taken from “Hearing Disability Badge,” designated to the wide mirror using drivers with hearing impairment. This handmade badge by Ms. Junko Kato, president of Senbakai, Tsuru sign language club, was utilized in the Tsuru Citywide Emergency Drill held on September 27, 2009.

The second training session of the annual drill since last year was conducted on the communication with people with hearing impairments, including writing text on the ground and using a cell phone. Feedbacks from the participants include, “I was thinking that sign language is the only means to communicate with deaf people, but today I learned there are many other communication strategies and tips”. Prior to the training session, flyers created by Senbakai were distributed, covering the information on the communication tips with deaf people and sign language grocery in case of emergency.

The city of Tsuru does not have a deaf association, and some deaf residents of this area are registered members of the provincial subdivision of the Yamanashi-ken (prefecture/state) deaf association. In the emergency drill, seven from the deaf association and three from Senbakai participated.

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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