II. - 1.Legislation Concerning Measures for Disabled Persons and Coordination Functions

a. Legislation

  • Disabled Persons Fundamental Law
    The Disabled Persons Fundamental Law came into effect after a full-fledged revision of the "Fundamental Law for Countermeasures for Mentally and Physically Disabled Persons" and establishes as its fundamental principles the right of all persons with disabilities to be treated with respect for their dignity and the provision of opportunities for persons with disabilities to participate in social, economic, cultural and other areas of activity. The Disabled Persons Fundamental Law also stipulates the formulation of the "Basic Plan for Persons with Disabilities" and obliges the Government to submit annual reports to the Diet as well as stipulates the establishment of Persons with Disabilities Day. (1993)
  • Revision of Disqualification Articles
    In terms of qualification systems, the Law stipulates revision by the end of March 2003 of the 63 systems that have disqualification articles due to disability; revision of 57 systems are under way and should be completed by October 2002.
  • Law for Encouraging Businesses to Facilitate Disabled Persons' Use of Telecommunications and Broadcasting to Enhance Their Convenience
    This Law was enacted for the purpose of making it more convenient for physically challenged to use communications and broadcast services, and to contribute to balanced development in an information age. (1993)
  • The Law on Partial Amendments of the Broadcast Law and Cable Television Broadcast Law
    Regulations are established which require that efforts be made to simplify the licensing system regarding programs with captions or descriptions in order to increase the number of such programs as much as possible.
  • Amendment to the Civil Code
    The Civil Code was amended to introduce the system of guardianship, curatorship and assistance in place of the incompetency system and to enable notary deed wills to be made by means of sign language. (1999)
  • Law concerning Mental Health and Welfare for Mentally Disabled Persons
    The former Law concerning Mental Health was amended to promote welfare for persons with intellectual disability and to improve public mental health through health care and welfare services.
  • Law for Employment Promotion, etc., of persons with disabilities
    To promote self-support in vocational life of persons with disabilities, an amendment was made in 1994 to expand the system of supplying subsidies for the preparation of a working environment, and to enable the designation of the "Employment Support Centers for Persons with disabilities." In 1997 the regulation of the employment rate of persons with disabilities was extended to include persons with intellectual disabilities, and in 2002 "Work and Life Support Centers for Persons with Disabilities" were designated, and the "Job Coaching Program" was also created.
  • Psychiatric Social Workers Law and Law for Speech Therapists
    Governmental qualifications were created for workers who engage in consulting and assisting the social integration of persons with mental disabilities and for practitioners of speech therapy, etc., for persons with speaking or hearing difficulties (1997).
  • The Law on Partial Amendments of the Social Welfare Law for the Promotion of Social Welfare
    Several amendments were made to the basic common system of social welfare for social welfare projects, corporations, or admission systems: (i) to build a social welfare system that satisfies users; (ii) to improve the quality of services; (iii) to augment and activate social welfare projects; and (iv) to promote community welfare (2000).
  • Law on Assistance Dogs for Persons with Physical Disabilities
    This law was enacted for the purpose of assuring the training of guide dogs, service dogs and hearing dogs, as well as to promote access to various facilities (2002).
  • Law Concerning the Promotion of Research and Development and Diffusion of Social Welfare Equipment
    This law was enacted to promote research, development and diffusion of social welfare equipment in order to encourage greater independence for elderly and handicapped people, and to reduce the burden of people caring for them (1993).
  • Act on Buildings Accessible and Usable for the Elderly and Physically Disabled
    This law is enacted for the purpose of promoting measures for securing a barrier-free environment in buildings that will be utilized by unspecified large numbers of persons, and was amended in 2002 to strengthen the promotion of a barrier-free environment.
  • Transportation Accessibility Improvement Law
    This law was enacted to make it obligatory that new passenger facilities and rolling stock etc. should be barrier-free, and to stipulate concentrated and integrated accessibility improvement measures in Improvement Priority Areas (2000).

b. Coordination Functions

The Government established the "Headquarters for Promoting the Welfare of Disabled Persons" and is tackling political challenges in areas such as medical care and welfare, securing of employment, education and living environment, ensuring close bilateral ties between related governmental agencies on establishing a system for resolving problematic issues, as well as on comprehensive and effective promotion of policy.

Ever since the "Headquarters for Promoting the Welfare of Disabled Persons," headed by the Prime Minister and comprising of administrative vice ministers from government ministries and agencies as members, was established in 1982, it has been making decisions on various important issues in regard to measures for persons with disabilities. Among its important decisions in the past ten years, the following could be pointed out: formulation of the "New Long-Term Programme for Government Measures for Disabled Persons" (1993) and of the "Government Action Plan for Persons with Disabilities (A Seven-Year Normalization Strategy)" (1995) as well as the establishment of the "Week for the Welfare of Persons with Disabilities" (1995) and determining a "Policy for Revision of Disqualifying Articles in Regards to Persons with Disabilities."

In 2001 the old Headquarters was abolished due to the reorganization of the machinery of the central government and a new "Headquarters for Promoting the Welfare of Disabled Persons," headed by the Prime Minister and comprising all state ministers, was established within the Cabinet.

As the secretariat of the "Headquarters for Promoting the Welfare of Disabled Persons" the Cabinet Office is responsible for pre-coordination of the opinions of each ministry and agency in regard to issues for deliberation at the meetings of the Headquarters as well as for formulating and pursuing basic plans regarding measures for persons with disabilities and for submitting annual reports to the Diet.

In order to form governmental decisions, the opinions and knowledge of a wide-range of knowledgeable experts are incorporated through deliberation councils and informal gatherings. In order to formulate and implement a policy that reflects as much as possible the opinions of persons with disabilities themselves and their families, as well as the views of organizations and individuals engaged in welfare projects for persons with disabilities, the Cabinet Office holds informal meetings as needed with related governmental officials. In addition, each government ministry and agency implementing measures for persons with disabilities makes effective use of the function of deliberation councils, so as to actively incorporate the knowledge and opinions of organizations dealing with issues of persons with disabilities upon formulating legislation, deliberating important issues such as establishment and revisions of related laws, and implementing specific policies.

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