Declaration Calling for the Abolishment of the “Act on Services and Support for Persons with Disabilities” and Requesting the Establishment of a General Welfare Act which Guarantees the Rights of Persons with Disabilities while Giving Utmost Respect to their Opinions
“Nothing about us, without us!” (i.e., Please do not decide any matters related to us (persons with disabilities), without asking our opinions first.)
Using the above slogan, the United Nations adopted the “Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities” (hereinafter referred to as the “Convention”) on December 13, 2006. The Convention has been adopted in the current situation in which the principle known as “inclusion,” which means that “persons with disabilities are entitled to have the necessary support and should be included in a society as members having equal rights with those of persons without disabilities,” is widely accepted; and the idea that the persons with disabilities should enjoy all human rights with their own dignity as members of society is internationally recognized.
However, in Japan, since persons with disabilities have long been treated not as “persons who enjoy their own rights,” but rather as “persons in need of protection,” they have long been placed in a position of dependency. In order to guarantee equal rights to persons with disabilities, the Convention should be ratified after the amendment of the Japanese domestic law, which should lead to bring up the Japanese standard to the international standards established by the Convention.
In order to ratify the Convention, and to effectively guarantee the human rights of persons with disabilities stipulated in it, new legislation must be based on the respect of voices of persons with disabilities, which reflect their actual condition and their experiences. From this point of view, by setting up since December 2009 the “Headquarters for Promoting Reform of the Systems in relation to Persons with Disabilities” which is to carry out intensive reforms of such systems, the “Council for Promoting Reform of Systems for Persons with Disabilities” (hereinafter referred to as the “Council”), in which persons with disabilities make up more than half of its members, and The “General Welfare Taskforce” consisting of 55 persons and set up in order to avoid repeating the same mistakes as those made under the “Act on Services and Support for Persons with Disabilities,” (which was enacted without paying any attention to the voices and opinions of persons with disabilities and infringed their dignity), the Japanese government engaged in very lively discussions about a global legislation which should replace the “Act on Services and Supports for Persons with Disabilities” and the framework of new legislation has been suggested.
Unless enactment of such a law which fully respects the results of the discussions, it cannot be said that the rights of persons with disabilities are now effectively guaranteed, and that the spirit of the Convention has been fully embraced. But as the “Act on Services and Support for Persons with Disabilities” was amended in 2010 without respecting the opinions of persons with disabilities, there still remain concerns and uncertainties over the future of the reforms to be carried out.
All things considered, the JFBA strongly requests the State:
1. To completely abolish the “Act on Services and Support for Persons with Disabilities Act” by August 2013.
2. To enact and enforce a General Welfare Act which will guarantee the rights of persons with disabilities, and which can satisfy the following items.
i) Under the policy of the “full participation and equality” of persons with disabilities, opinions on the framework of the new law, suggested by the Council and the Taskforce, many of whose members comprise persons with disabilities, should be respected to the greatest extent possible.
ii) Clauses which specifically guarantee the fundamental human rights of persons with disabilities in accordance with the Convention and the Constitution of Japan should be expressly established in the new law.
iii) In order that developmental difficulties and intractable diseases, etc. are covered by the new law, the definition of disabilities to be provided in the new law should be large, so that there would be no difference of treatment among persons with disabilities.
iv) The quantity and quality of support to be provided to enable persons with disabilities to live on their own in the area of their own choice should be guaranteed.
v) The current system under which persons with disabilities have to pay fees according to the amount of welfare services they use (resulting in higher levels of payments needing to be made by those persons with disabilities with more severe degrees of disability for the support they have received, regardless of their income) should be completely abolished. Further, there should be no special financial burdens imposed on the persons with disabilities because of their disabilities.
vi) The current “long-term care insurance system” which identifies one’s situation without any support with the situation of independence, and the system which guarantees the rights of persons with disabilities should remain separated. The currently running principle which gives priority to the “long-term care insurance system” should be abolished.
The JFBA strongly urges the State to completely abolish the “Act on Services and Support for Persons with Disabilities” and to enact a new General Welfare Act to guarantee the rights of persons with disabilities in line with our recommendations, which respect the opinions of persons with disabilities to the maximum extent. The JFBA will make every effort for the new law as described above.
October 7, 2011
Japan Federation of Bar Associations