Statement on the Ratification of the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities and the Incorporation of the Convention into Japanese Law
The Government of Japan is going to seek ratification of the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (Convention) during the current Diet session. This innovative Convention guarantees the human rights of persons with disabilities by prohibiting discrimination on the basis of disability. The Japan Federation of Bar Associations (JFBA) urges ratification of the Convention and the modification of Japanese domestic law to meet the standards established by the Convention.
The Convention clearly stipulates that if reasonable accommodation is not provided for persons with disabilities, it constitutes discrimination. The Convention further requires that legislative measures be taken to eliminate discrimination in various situations and that a domestic monitoring institution be established to promote, protect, and monitor the implementation of the Convention. However, at this time, such human rights safeguards do not exist in Japan.
In conjunction with the ratification of the Convention, the Government of Japan (GOJ) is planning to modify the Basic Act for Persons with Disabilities (Basic Act) so that forms of discrimination, including the denial of reasonable accommodation, are therein defined. In addition, the GOJ plans for the role of the domestic monitoring institution to be filled by the Central Council on Promotion of Measures for Persons with Disabilities (Central Council) established by Article 24 of the Basic Act. However, the Basic Act primarily provides guidelines for measures to be implemented by the national and local governments, and even with the proposed revisions, the Basic Act will not recognize the specific rights of persons with disabilities. Furthermore, the Central Council is not a permanent organization and is dependent on the GOJ for human and financial resources. As the functions of the Central Council do not include the provision of human rights relief, the Central Council does not qualify as a substantive organization for such provision.
The JFBA is deeply concerned that ratification of the Convention without the corresponding modification of domestic law could delay the establishment of the system for safeguarding human rights required by the Convention.
The JFBA strongly requests not only the ratification of the Convention but also the creation of the basic framework of a system to guarantee the fundamental human rights of persons with disabilities. This framework would consist of the following: (1) a substantive law (prohibiting discrimination) that would serve as concrete grounds for court decisions and as a mechanism for the provision of administrative relief and (2) a permanent domestic monitoring body authorized to provide human rights relief as an independent bureau of the Cabinet Office.
Japan Federation of Bar Associations
March 13, 2009