One Year After Sagamihara, Japanese Disabled People Continue to Face Discrimination

July 26th 2017 marks one year since the murder of 19 intellectually disabled people at the Tsukui Yamayuri En care home in Sagamihara, Kanagawa Prefecture, an attack that injured 27 others. The alleged attacker, Satoshi Uematsu, a former employee at the care facility, is still awaiting trial, and prosecutors have said it may take more than a year before the trial will begin. According to a judicial official quoted in a Kyodo News Report:

“There is an enormous amount of evidence (to be examined). I reckon more than a year would be needed merely for pretrial discovery, or disclosure of evidence, by prosecutors during the consultation stage.”

A long wait for a trial is in itself, not unusual in Japan, although much has been made in both the Japanese and Western press about the names of the victims not be released. As early as the end of the July 2016, disability groups have been saying that to not the release the names of the victims, is to deny them their identity, just as the alleged attacker Uematsu did. As Professor Osamu Nagase, a disability rights advocate and academic at Ritsumeikan University said to the Sankei Shimbun at the time:

“To not announce the name of the 19 human beings is to suggest that disabled people are not people…that thinking seems to in part be overlapping with the thinking of the suspect “.

Article 291 of The Japanese Code of Criminal Procedure allows prosecutors to read out the indictment without identifying the victim, so it cannot be said that the Kanagawa Prefectural Police were acting improperly in not releasing the names of the victims. However, it is also worth noting that there have been murder cases where the Japanese police have released the names of the victims, such as in the recent ‘Black Widow’ murder, where it was released to the press that Chisako Kakehi, was alleged to have killed her husband, Isao Kakehi. Why the release the names in that case, but not the names of those killed at the Sagamihara care home?

Regardless of the legal minutia of murder cases in Japan; about whether it is appropriate or not to the release the names of those that were killed I cannot help but feel that the Sagamihara massacre says a lot of about attitudes towards the disabled in Japan. It is true that one year ago, much of the press talked about the murders at the Sagamihara care home as being a “massacre” and according to Kyodo, an incident that “sent shock waves through the country”. However, one year later after this ‘massacre’ it is difficult to say that attitudes towards disabled people in Japan have changed that dramatically.

Take the example of Hideto Kijima, a paraplegic man who, in late June, had to crawl up the stairs of an airplane to board his flight from Amami Oshima , a small island off Kagoshima to Osaka. Staff at Vanilla Air, a low cost carrier (LCC) or ‘budget airline’ that is a subsidiary of All Nippon Airways reportedly told Kijima “people who cannot walk cannot fly” although that he could board the plane, if he “can climb up the stairs on his own with the assistance” of his friends, although his friends were forbidden from carrying Kijima’s wheelchair up the staircase. In the end, Kijima decided to crawl up the stairs despite the protestations of the Vanilla Air staff, although the Vanilla Air has since apologized and according to the Sankei Shimbun:

“…the low-cost carrier (LCC) was quick to apologize and has purchased a boarding chair. The airline has also promised to install an electric stairlift.”

Kijima was apparently thankful for Vanilla Air’s quick response, but others, such as the aforementioned Professor Nagase, were no so forgiving, viewing Kijima’s treatment as a human rights violation, and a violation of Japan’s own ‘Act to Eliminate Discrimination Against Persons with Disabilities’, which came into effect April 2016:

“Vanilla Air’s policy not to let people who do not walk fly seems a violation of the Act to Eliminate Discrimination Against Persons with Disabilities and the CRPD, which Japan has ratified,” said Nagase in an email interview. “If there was no accessibility, the airline was expected to provide reasonable accommodation, though as private company it is only encouraged to do so. This really proves the necessity to promote general accessibility and to secure reasonable accommodation in specific situations.”

Other incidents could be mentioned, such the case of mentally handicapped man, aged 19, who died of heat exhaustion after having been left locked in car outside a welfare facility in Saitama for six hours in early July. Police are still investigating that incident and no arrests of those responsible have been reported.

Taken individually, it is easy to respond to such incidents as simply sad or tragic, but they are also something more than that, they are also completely avoidable, if companies and institutions have a policy regarding people with disabilities. Japanese companies are encouraged by the government to be ‘barrier free’ or accessible to disabled people, particularly as the Tokyo 2020 Olympics and Paralympics draws nearer, and Japan has had some success in increasing accessibility for disabled people but, if it is to be truly ‘barrier free’ to quote Tokyo Governor Koike “I believe that a barrier-free mind is equally vital”.

I submit that we are a long way from having a ‘barrier free mind’ here in Japan, if disabled people have to resort to crawl up staircases to get on airplanes, die of heat exhaustion in cars, and we can’t even say their names when they are murdered.

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11 Months Since Sagamihara Massacre of Disabled 相模原障害者殺傷 月命日で施設前に献花台

Translated from “相模原障害者殺傷 月命日で施設前に献花台” published on Monday June 26th 2017 by NHK

http://www3.nhk.or.jp/news/html/20170626/k10011030401000.html

The Original Japanese text follows after the English translation.

June 26th marks 11 months since the attack at a facility for the intellectually disabled in Sagamihara city, and a flower table was set up in front of the facility in order to mourn the 19 people who were murdered, the officials handed the flowers quietly as they prayed for the dead.

Last July 26th, a former employee’s stabbed the residents one after another at the intellectually disabled facility “Tsukui Yamayuri Garden” in Sagamihara City, 19 people were killed and 27 people were injured seriously.

The facility is currently it is closed as it is reconstructed and more than 100 residents are moving to another facility in Yokohama city in April to live.

Takeshi Inagura said, “I felt that since it was going to be a year soon, I shall put my hands together whilst looking back thinking many thoughts about the past year and I am grateful that some people will come along this day from a distance as well.”

The dedication flower bed is installed until 4 pm on the 26th.

Original Japanese Text:

相模原障害者殺傷 月命日で施設前に献花台

6月26日 11時10分

相模原市の知的障害者施設で起きた殺傷事件から、26日で11か月となり、殺害された19人を悼むため、施設の前に献花台が設けられ、関係者が花を手向け静かに祈りをささげました。

続きを読む

去年7月26日、相模原市の知的障害者施設「津久井やまゆり園」で元職員の被告が入所者を次々に刺し、19人が殺害され、27人が重軽傷を負いました。

犠牲者を悼むために常設されていた献花台は今は月命日に置かれることになり、事件から11か月となる、26日、小雨がぱらつく中、施設の正門前に献花台が設けられました。入倉かおる園長は職員とともに献花台に花を手向け、静かに祈りをささげていました。

現在は施設の再建のため閉鎖されていて、100人余りの入所者はことし4月に横浜市内の別の施設に移って暮らしています。

入倉園長は「本当にもうすぐ1年になると感じ、この1年のいろいろな思いを振り返りながら手を合わせました。遠方からもこの日に合わせて来てくれる方もいるので、本当にありがたいです」と話していました。

献花台は26日午後4時まで設置されています。

Sagamihara Massacre: 6 Months On

Original text: 殺傷事件から半年 元職員は障害者冒とくの供述続ける (NHK)

NHK

January 26th 2017

It is six months since the incident that 46 people were injured or killed at a residential care facility for the intellectual disabled in Sagamihara city. 

A 27-year-old former employee was arrested on suspicion of homicide, he had made statements against disabled people, the suspect is currently undergoing psychological evaluation. Prosecutors are expected to decide next month whether or not he can face trial on the basis of that assessment.

In this incident, the residents were stabbed one after another with a knife at the entrance facility “Miyuki Tsukui” in the Midori ward of Sagamihara-city in the early hours of July 26th, 19 people died, 27 people were seriously injured. Former employee of the facility, Satoshi Uematsu (27), has been arrested for killing 19 people. In addition, charges of attempted murder of the 24 people he injured is being explored, and the suspect is currently undergoing psychological evaluation.

According to previous investigation, Uematsu was suspected that dangerous behavior against disabled people from January to February of last year, since five months before the incident, he wrote letters to Chairman of the House of Representatives, justifying the killing of disabled people

Uematsu has allegedly insisted that claims he killed made by the investigation are false, according to the investigative officials, saying “I do not know” etc. An expert appraisal on his mental health is scheduled for next month 20th, and after which prosecution is expected to decide whether to indict him.

Family society president remarks

Kazumasa Otsuki, president of the family association ‘Midori-kai’ of ‘Tsukui Yamayuri Garden’, answers the interview for the first time based on the thoughts of the bereaved family who are still unable to organize their minds even after half a year since the incident It was. Mr. Otsuki said, “I attended the funeral of the deceased people and talked with the bereaved families, but when I think of why this happened and I was feeling unhappy about the people who lost their lives, it was really regrettable I could not do it. ”

In addition, I introduced an episode at a farewell party opened only by the people concerned and said, “From one bereaved family, I heard that my intention to protect my older sister in my family actually was supported by my sister, and like a treasure In the meantime, there was a story saying that I had raised a story saying that when I remember the incident, some people said that I do not want to hear the word “Yamayuri Garden”, but I feel unbelievable if I think about the feelings of the bereaved families who have lost an important family “I said. About six months since the incident the 19 people still have been anonymous, “I think that  there are various reasons, but all the bereaved families lost their irreplaceable family, and still cannot deal with it emotionally, I think that their desire to live quietly is also strong. Since my son also suffered damage, I can understand the feelings of the bereaved family, the time to tell may come I will answer, “Is not it a bit more time required for it?” I also heard about injuries and others who are currently being divided among several facilities and that they are living, “I heard stories that people who were burned hated being brought into contact with their bodies after the incident, and injuries I think that people who did not do it also made me scared. I want everyone to send me away from this uneasy life in an unfamiliar environment and return me to the calm original life as soon as possible.

Dentsu and Sagamihara: A Tale of the Japanese Media’s Reporting of Two Crimes

On December 18th of last year, the Kanagawa Prefecture police sent evidence to prosecutors for 24 counts of attempted murder against Satoshi Uematsu. Uematsu, a former employee at the Tsukui Yamayuri En, a care facility for the intellectually disabled in Sagamihara city, Kanagawa Prefecture, is alleged to have killed 19 residents and injured 27 others in the early morning of July 26th 2016. On December 26th, NHK reported that the Tsukui Yamayuri En care facility decided to remove the flower bed memorial to the victims of the killings; only five months after the killings took place. As the memorial was dismantled, the facility’s Director General said:

“All of the staff from the bottom of our hearts thank you for the flowers and gifts. I am hoping to encourage business with my warmest feelings for everyone in mind. We are preparing for temporary relocation to Yokohama; we are working on preparations now. We will continue to work hard from now on, so that all employees can return to their normal life as soon as possible” he said. I sincerely pray for the repose of the lost 19 people, I pray from the bottom of my heart.”

It seems December was a bad time for companies in Japan. Along with the Tsukui Yamayuri En care facility and its troubles, there was also Dentsu, an advertising company who’s President, Tadashi Ishii, resigned in December, a year after an employee, Matsuri Takahashi committed suicide. According to The Japan Times, Ishii at a press conference as he announced his resignation said the following:

“We deeply regret failing to prevent the overwork of our new recruit. I offer my sincere apology…Although we took various countermeasures, the issue of overwork has not been improved. I will take full responsibility.”

The killings at the Sagamihara care facility and the suicide of one overworked employee may not at first appear similar. In the Dentsu case, the Ministry of Labor, Health and Welfare, suspected Dentsu, and specifically of Takahashi’s supervisor of breaking the Labor Standards Law by making her work long hours. The Sagamihara incident seems to be an attack by a mentally unstable man against the residents and some of the staff.

However, when looked at more closely, there are similarities to be found in both incidents. In respect to the Sagamihara killings, according to a widely distributed Kyodo News report, an investigation by the Kanagawa Prefectural Government into the incident concluded that the facility:

”..acted “extremely inappropriately” in failing to share knowledge that may have affected the lives of its residents. The report went on to assert that:

“If the information had been shared with the prefecture, the damage could have been avoided…If the facility had reported to the prefecture, security equipment or security personnel could have been bolstered. There was a problem in its crisis management”

Regarding the Sagamihara killings and the Dentsu suicide, it seems at the very least, that in both cases, the deaths may have been prevented by respective company’s management making different decisions. Dentsu literally worked Matsuri Takahashi to death, and even if it was an unintended failure to implement proper working practices, what happened to Takahashi at Dentsu appears to be a proximate cause of her death. In the case of the Sagamihara killings, the decision of the management at the Tsukui Yamayuri En care facility not to increase security after Uematsu made his threats seems, at the very least, to have made the attack easier to carry out.

Much of media coverage about the Sagamihara killings from the Japanese media is troubling. So much of the media has focused on the suspect Uematsu’s alleged mental illness, and uses the Sagamihara incident to highlight the plight of the mentally ill. Highlighting the issue of mental illness in Japan is a laudable goal of course, but focusing on it in this case, draws attention away from the victims of the attack, victims the Kanagawa police refuse to name reportedly at the request of the victims family. As Kazuhiro Nozawa, an editor for The Mainichi stated:

”The suspect in the Sagamihara case saw the exhausted guardians of handicapped residents at Yamayuri En, came to think that disabled people “can only lead to unhappiness” and came to the conclusion that such people should be euthanized. Although his idea is absurdly twisted, there is no denying that his sympathy with the guardians of handicapped people forms part of the basis for his idea. News reports on the incident are also based largely on sympathy with the guardians of the victims.”

The media’s preoccupation with the suspect’s possible mental illness and sympathy for the victim’s family moves attention away from the team management team and their share of responsibility for the killings, only The Mainchi seems to want to talk about the actual victims of the attack. In the Dentsu scandal, due to public and legal pressure, the President of the company resigned, taking full responsibility for the actions of the company that led to Takahashi’s suicide. No similar kind of pressure from the media seems to have be applied in the Sagamihara killings, the same principal management team at the Tsukui Yamayuri En care facility in Sagamihara seems to remain place, despite an investigation by Kanagawa Prefecture Government that found the facility’s actions over the incident to be “”extremely inappropriate”. The only real notable difference between the two cases seems to be that in one incident the victims were disabled and in the other she was not.

 

Sagamihara massacre: 46 attempted killings, prosecutors make request for extension of detention 

Original source: 相模原46人殺傷事件、鑑定留置の延長請求へ

TBS news 16th January 2017

In the case of 46 people who  were killed or injured at the disabled facility “Tsukui Yamayuri Garden” in Sagamihara City, the Yokohama District Public Prosecutors’ Office decided to request an extension of “appraisal detention” to examine the mental state of a man of the former employee arrested. 

Satoshi Uematsu (26), a former employee who was arrested for suspicion of homicide and the like, was detained for appraisal from September last year.

Although the appointment detention was scheduled until 23th this month, it was confirmed that the Yokohama District Prosecutors’ Office decided to make a request for extension so the doctor can continue assess his mental health.  The Yokohama District Prosecution is expected to request an extension until the 20th of next month, and if the court approves it will be decided whether to prosecute after February. 

Draft reconstruction plan for disabled facilities Kanagawa Prefecture

Original source: http://mainichi.jp/articles/20170107/k00/00m/040/035000c

Mainichi Newspaper January 6, 2017

Kanagawa Prefecture

Kanagawa Prefecture announced a plan to rebuild the prefectural facility for the disabled “Tsukui Yamayuri-en” in Sagamihara city, where a killing incident occurred in July of last year. To further interaction with the community, the gates and fences around the entrance to the park will be removed, so the residents can come and go with ease. It is hoped the facility will be rebuilt by 2020.

The new facility will be set up with cameras and buzzers with sensors interlocked with security companies as measures to prevent crime. Since the city is in the prefecture’s industrial zones, the facility will also consider introducing security patrols and technology to monitor the environment.

Five months after killing at facility for the disabled the dedicated memorial flower bed is removed

Source material: “障害者施設殺傷事件から5か月 献花台を撤去”

Five months after killing at facility for the disabled the dedicated memorial flower bed is removed
December 26th at 17:54

NHK

In July, 19 people were killed at the facility for the intellectually disabled in Sagamihara City, and 27 people were injured. 5 months after the incident, on the 26th December, the dedication flower board that was set up at the scene of the crime was removed.

At Tsukui Yamayuri Garden in Sagamihara City, in the early morning of July 26, 19 people were killed, including residents being stabbed with a knife, 27 people including staff injured seriously.

The dedication flower table established in front of the main gate of the facility, people who mourn for the victims have come all over the country everyday, but the facility side said five cases from the incident as “it is necessary to move on from the incident. On the 26th, I decided to remove the flower arrangement table.

People listened to a reminder of the removal from the morning in the morning were constantly visiting the facility and around 50 bouquets were handed over on the 26th. 

And after 4 p.m., the staff of the facility including facility staff including Kagoru Kagoru of “Tsukui Yamayuri Garden” removed the flower bed and flower bouquet after the last flower arrangement offering was accepted.

Takeshi Inukura said, “We have provided flowers and gifts to the place where the victims were living, I pray from the bottom of my heart for the death of the 19 people who died.” He was tearfully whilst talking.

At “Tsukui Yamayuri Garden” if there is requests are made in advance even after 27th, it is possible to accept an an offering of a flower arrangement in the facility.

Director General “All officials a heartfelt thank you”

After the dedication flower bed was removed, Kaoru Kagoru, head of the “Tsukui Yamayuri Garden” responded to the press coverage.

Director Tamura told the people who visited the donation flowers “All of the staff from the bottom of my heart I thank you from the bottom of my heart that the flowers and gifts I have kept from you are presenting to the place where the victims were living. I am hoping to encourage business with my warmest feelings from everyone in mind. ”

Regarding the future operation of the facility, “We are preparing for temporary relocation to Yokohama, we are working on preparations now.We will continue to work hard from now on, so that all employees can return to their normal life as soon as possible” he said.

Finally, he said, “I sincerely pray for the repose of the lost 19 people, I pray from the bottom of my heart.

Family meeting “Lifetime forget”

The removal of the dedication flower board President Kazumasa Otsuki of the meeting made by the family of residents of the “Tsukui Yamayuri Garden” said that “Many people thought that they came to the dedication flower bed due to unbearable feelings I will not forget the dedicated flower like the mountain that I received, I will take over to Tsukui Yamayuri Garden which has regenerated my thoughts Thank you very much. ”

Continuous flowers on the final day
At Tsukui Yamayuri Garden in Sagamihara City, people who knew that the flower arrangement platform would be removed on 26th were visited one after the other and turned flowers.
A local office worker said, “I saw that the flower arrangement was removed in the news of this morning.When I think of the deceased people and the bereaved families, there is no word, I can only turn flowers I thought it was, and I came with my colleagues at my work place. ”

A woman in Tokyo and Koto wards who volunteered and had activities to interact with people with disabilities said, “I’ve been on a dedication flower many times according to the day when the incident happened. I think that there should be something in place to communicate “.

“We will not forget the incident and replace the flower stall”

Yuka Tanaka (46) who lives in Musashino City, Tokyo, visited the donation flower bed together with Mr. Kazuya son (17) with severe intellectual disability.
It is the fifth visit to the dedication flower board on the 26th, and Yuka could not accept Kazuya’s disability before, but sometimes it severely touched, but as you see the growth of Kazuya, the obstacle is It is said that it seems to be one of the personality.

The mountain climbing that had come to flee from fighting against obstacles once became a common hobby of the two people, and I crossed the mountain on 26th and walked from the city and came.

Mr. Tanaka said, “Although I remembered myself that I could not accept obstacles due to the incident, I was coming to the dedication flower table to organize that feeling.I want to keep coming here from now on Since things that I do not forget are important, I want another person to come up with a new alternative to the dedication flower stand in order to have those who came to remember the incident. ”

Former employee “I want to collect the living proof of 19 people”
Previously, former employee Akira Ota and Junji Nishi Kami who had worked at the facility also visited the donation flowers. The two gathered together and handed the flowers to the flower arrangement table and then hands up, and Mr. Ota said that he memorialized while telling the late 19 people.
Mr. Ota said, “This accident happened and I feel a responsibility as a former employee, because I thought that Donghae Tower did not forget the incident, it was a symbol for not weathering, so in the future I will replace the dedication flower stand I think that it is necessary to create a place to memorize. ”

Mr. Nishikaga also said, “Do not forget the dead, we put our hands together with the feeling that we will not whether the incident .I think that there is a danger that the incident will weather due to the loss of the flower arrangement table, I would like to collect the living testimony of the 19 people who died. ”

Assisting organizations request the installation of “memorial monuments”

Approximately 20 members of organizations made up by disabled people and supporters who visited Tsukui Yamayuri-en in Sagamihara City on 26th, visiting the facility side handed out a request form.

Among them, we request that a memorial monument be set up in place of the dedicated flower bed so that the memory that the 19 precious lives were deprived by the incident will not be lost among people.

 Akihiko Yoshida of Kobe City who has a mental disorder in his own way and who is a caller of the activity said, “The facility side says” Because we are going to move forward with breaks “about the reasons for removal of the dedication flower bed, we should never let the case weather I would like you to have a long and long memorial occasion. “