II. - 3.Infrastructure Improvement for Facilitating Independent Life

(1) Improving Accessibility in the Living Environment

It is widely recognized that it is important to improve the accessibility of whole towns for persons with disabilities so that they can live independently and participate in society. Therefore, we are promoting improvement of accessibility to housing, buildings, public transportation, and the pedestrian environment etc. The aim is to form a seamlessly accessible route from the home through transportation to the city center so that everyone including persons with disabilities can live and participate in the society safely and comfortably.

In addition, in order to build a foundation for barrier-free urban development, basic plans are designed reflecting the result of actual on-site investigation by the persons with disabilities themselves, and based on the plans, the necessary improvements are implemented on existing public facilities and amenities.

a. Housing and Buildings

Concerning the improvement of accessibility in housing, we are providing public housing that has been designed and has equipment suitable for persons with disabilities and meets the needs of the frail and elderly, etc., as a minimum standard. We are also promoting improvement in the accessibility to private housing by utilizing the Government Housing Loan Corporation. In order to develop housing with service provision for daily living of disabled, we are promoting combined development of public housing etc. and welfare facilities etc.

Concerning the improvement of accessibility in buildings, the "Act on Buildings Accessible and Usable for the Elderly and Physically Disabled" was enacted in 1994. For buildings for the general public such as theaters, department stores, etc., we have formulated standards on passageways and stairs for ease of use by persons with disabilities, etc., and we are giving advice to architects and constructors in accordance with this act. In addition to this, the act was revised in 2002 so that specified buildings for certain use and of a certain size should be accessible in order to further promote the improvement of accessibility. Buildings that are confirmed under the provisions of the act as of superior quality are eligible for subsidies, tax incentives and financing on facilities such as elevators suitable for persons with disabilities and wide passageways, thus providing incentives for improvements to accessibility. The act is also applicable to government buildings and in 1997 the Architectural Design Standard for Government Buildings was revised to further promote detailed improvements in accessibility.

b. Public Transportation System, Walking Area, etc.

Concerning the improvement of accessibility to public transportation and in the pedestrian environment, the Transportation Accessibility Improvement Law was enacted in 2000. The law requires that newly built passenger facilities such as stations and newly purchased trains, etc., should be accessible. We are promoting concentrated and integrated accessibility improvements of passenger facilities, roads, station squares, etc., in priority areas for improvement surrounding passenger facilities, such as stations, in accordance with the law. We have formulated guidelines suitable for persons with disabilities to promote improvements in accessibility to public transportation and in the pedestrian environment: "Accessibility Guideline for Public Transportation Passenger Facilities" (2001) for stations, tramcar stops, bus terminals, ferry terminals, airports; "Accessibility Guideline for Public Transportation Rolling Stock, etc.," (2001) for rolling stock, tramcars, buses, vessels, and airplanes; and "Guideline for Accessibility Improvement of Road and Related Facilities" (2001), etc.

c. Parks

Concerning the improvement of accessibility to parks and waterfront areas, we have formulated the "Guideline for Universal Design in Parks" (1999) and are promoting development of park facilities that are accessible for persons with disabilities. We are also promoting improvements in accessibility to waterfront areas such as rivers, streams, seashore areas and green spaces in ports and marinas.

(2) Promotion of Independent Life

a. Counseling and Supporting Life

To promote independence and social participation of persons with disabilities, it is important to enrich social services, but also to support persons with disabilities to choose and use those services. Since 1997, the Government has established a model project on a care management system for persons with disabilities. On and after 2003, the Government will start a real project on care management system for persons with disabilities to strengthen the system for counseling to support community life.

Since 2002, "Centers of Persons with Autism and Learning Disabilities" has been established to support the community life of such persons.

In the same year, a project for the dispatch of home-helpers was started in order to promote independence and social participation of persons with mental disabilities.

b. Support on Information

Since 2001, the barrier-free project on information for persons with disabilities has been established to promote barrier-free access to information through utilization of computers.

Since 2002, a project on training and dispatch of computer-volunteers has begun, in order to consult with persons with disabilities who use computers.

c. Research on Development of Welfare Equipment

The Law Concerning the Promotion of Research and Development and Diffusion of Social Welfare Equipment was enacted in 1993, and developments for the practical application of welfare equipment are supported with funds and information.

New Energy and Industrial Technology Development Organization is carrying out research and development regarding welfare equipments as well as subsidizing enterprises which develop them, and the Organization collects, analyses and provides information for development and promotion of welfare equipments.

Research on development of assistive devices was promoted by opening the "Laboratory for Assistive Devices for Elderly with Disabilities" and the "2nd Laboratory of the Evaluation Center for the Disabled" at the Research Institute of the National Rehabilitation Center for the Disabled. In addition, research on standardization of evaluation methods on strength of prostheses, artificial limbs and walking aids was conducted at the Institute.

Moreover, research on assistive devices and on standardization of assistive devices was conducted at the "Association for Technical Aids."

d. Sports Activities of Persons with Disabilities

Sports activities for persons with disabilities have been promoted since the Tokyo Paralympics in 1964. The National Sports Games for Physically Disabled Persons has been annually held since 1965. The National Sports Games for Mentally Retarded Persons also commenced in 1992. At present, there are many kinds of sports games in Japan, and these activities are facilitating independence and social participation of persons with disabilities. They also contribute to enhance public awareness concerning persons with disabilities.

The "Winter Paralympics Games," in Nagano were held in March 1998 and were the first Winter Paralympics Games in Asia. "The INAS-FID Football Championships 2002 Japan" were held in Tokyo and Yokohama in August 2002. In addition, the "2002 World Wheelchair Basketball Championships Kitakyushu" were held in Kitakyushu-City in August 2002. These Games have promoted welfare for persons with disabilities inside Japan as well as mutual understanding and international cooperation among the participating countries.

The purpose of training programs for sport instructors for persons with disabilities is to establish sport instruction guidelines that take into consideration the characteristics of persons with disabilities and improve their training abilities.

e. Security of Income

In addition to the implementation of substantial improvements to disability pension benefits in FY 1994, in FY 1995, 1998 and 1999 automatic price adjustment was implemented in accordance with the price index of the year before.

However, because of the economic situation in which prices of the previous year fell, disability pension benefits remained unchanged, as stipulated by the special act, in FY 1998, 2000, 2001 and 2002.

The limit of individual income restriction for the Disability Basic Pension, which is provided for persons with disabilities whose disabilities existed before reaching 20 years of age, is raised every August in proportion to the growth of each person's income. In addition, in August 1997, a partial suspension system was added through the introduction of two-step incremental limitations on income restrictions.

Index   -   Back   -   Next