Chapter 1Overview of Measures for Persons with Disabilities in Japan

The New Long-Term Program for Government Measures for Persons with Disabilities which was formulated on the basis of the Fundamental Law for Disabled Persons enacted in 1993, and the Action Plan for Priority Areas, which set down a strategy for achieving the goals of the New Long-Term Program over a seven-year period beginning in fiscal 1996, reached their conclusion in fiscal 2002. Following this, a new Basic Plan for Persons with Disabilities, covering fiscal 2003 to 2012, was passed as a Cabinet order in December 2002, and a new Action Plan for Priority Areas (Five-Year Plan for Implementation of Priority Measures), which provided a strategy for realizing the goals of the Basic Plan during the first half of the 10-year term, was adopted.

The Basic Plan retains the concepts of normalization and rehabilitation from the New Long-Term Program while declaring its goal to be the creation of a society in which persons with disabilities are accorded the same rights and treatment as others and have the same opportunities and self-determination to participate and share in its responsibilities. The philosophy underlying these objectives is an “inclusive society,” in which all people respect individual differences and support each other.

Japanese government measures have their roots in the Fundamental Law for Disabled Persons and aim to provide services that meet the needs of individuals with disabities in welfare, medical care, pensions, education, employment, and other areas. They also seek to create a barrier-free society in all realms, including access to buildings, transportation, and information. In order to promote measures comprehensively, legislation and systems must be formulated in a wide range of spheres.

Because policies are so widely dispersed, the Headquarters for Promoting the Welfare of Persons with Disabilities was established in the Cabinet Office to ensure that government ministries maintain close contact with each other and promote measures systematically and effectively. The organization is headed by the Prime Minister and staffed by relevant ministers, enabling a unified approach within the central government to the formulation and passage of measures.

2. The Fundamental Law for Disabled Persons

The Fundamental Law for Disabled Persons, which took force in 1993 and serves as the pillar of welfare policies in Japan, was revised in 2004.

This revised law sets forth “full participation and equality” as its guiding philosophy and maintains that the individual dignity and livelihood of persons with disabilities must be guaranteed, their opportunities to take part in society secured, and discrimination based on disability be abolished and equal rights protected.

It also mandates that municipal governments draw up and implement comprehensive programs to support the independence and social participation of persons with disabilities. Finally, it makes provisions in medical and nursing care, living support, pensions, education, vocational training and employment, housing, barrier-free institutions and information, the prevention of causes of disabilities, and other areas so that the individual needs of persons with disabilities are met.

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