The Fundamental Law for Countermeasures for Mentally and Physically Handicapped Persons was renamed in 1993 with its full-scale revision. The legislation was again amended in 2004 in order to respond to changes in the relevant movement towards the United Nations’ international conventions on the rights of persons with disabilities and other socioeconomic trends. Below is a summary of the changes.
- Respect for the individual, guarantee of a livelihood, guarantee of opportunities to take part in society, abolition of all discrimination based on disability, and protection of the rights of persons with disabilities are provided for as fundamental principles.
- The central government, prefectural governments, and municipal governments are obliged to draw up and implement comprehensive policy plans to promote the independence of persons with disabilities and their participation in society.
- Stipulations are made in a wide range of areas, including medical treatment, nursing care, livelihood assistance, pensions, education, occupation, employment, housing, facilities, access to information, and prevention of disability, to meet the individual needs of people with disabilities.
Article 1 – Purpose
The purpose of this law is to advance the welfare of disabled persons by establishing fundamental principles, by clarifying the responsibilities of the State, local public entities and others, and by comprehensively and regularly promoting programs dealing with measures that provide support for the independence and social participation of disabled persons. Article 2 – Definition “Disabled persons” as defined in this law refers to individuals whose daily life or social life is substantially limited due to a physical, intellectual, or mental disability (hereinafter referred to as “disability”).
Article 3 – Fundamental principles
All disabled persons shall have their human dignity respected and shall have the right to lead a dignified life. (Section 2) All disabled persons shall, as members of society, be ensured the opportunities to participate fully in social, economic, cultural, and all other activities of society. (Section 3) No one may discriminate against disabled persons by reason of disability nor disturb their rights and benefits.
Article 4 – Responsibilities of the central government and local public entities
The state and local public bodies shall be responsible for advancing the welfare of disabled persons through measures advocating and supporting independence and social participation and the prevention of discrimination.
Article 5 – Understanding of the nation
The State and local public bodies shall take necessary measures to increase the proper understanding of the nation in regard to disabled persons.
Article 6 – Responsibilities of the nation
The nation shall, on the basis of social solidarity, endeavor to cooperate in advancing the welfare of disabled persons. (Section 2) The nation shall, on the basis of social solidarity, endeavor to join in establishing a society where the rights of disabled persons are respected and where there is no discrimination against disabled persons, who may participate fully in social, economic, cultural and all other activities of society.
Article 7 – Disabled Persons’ Week
A “Disabled Persons’ Week” shall be held for the purpose of raising public awareness of the welfare of disabled persons and encouraging disabled persons to actively participate in social, economic, cultural, and other activities. (Section 2) Disabled Persons’ Week shall take place one week from December 3 to December 9 annually. (Section 3) The State and local public bodies shall be responsible for implementing relevant programs to fulfill the aims of Disabled Persons’ Week.
Article 8 – Fundamental policies
The measures for the welfare of disabled persons shall be planned and carried out comprehensively and in good coordination, taking into consideration age and the severity of the disability. (Section 2) The measures shall be designed to enable disabled persons to become self-reliant and live independently in their community as much as possible.