It is my custom to, every so often, type subjects that interest me into Google Search. Yesterday I typed ‘Japan’ and ‘disability’ to see if any new news stories had been reported. Google throw back at me, this editorial from the Japan Times.
The article reports on July 25 2013, that the Japanese Parliament – ‘The Diet’ had passed a law, that would come into effect in April 2016, the aim of which was to prevent discrimination against disabled people. It also, according to the article, lays the foundation in domestic law, “necessary for Japan’s ratification of the U.N. Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities”.
My reason for my highlighting this article, is not to point out the fact that Japan has yet to join the other 130 countries and regions that have ratified the UN Convention, that may be bad, but it’s not the point here. My reason for highlighting is that only the Japan Times seems to have picked up on the story – and even then only as an editorial. Please don’t mistake me, I salute the Japan Times for doing so, but type in ‘disability’ and the name of any Japanese newspaper and you get very little reporting of the same story. The closest I could find to it was this from the Asahi Shimbun, although it it was published a month before the law would be passed.
It is not of course, the case that there is necessarily a lot of discrimination against disabled people here in Japan, when compared to the rest of the world, it mostly likely the on par with the UK. I can confirm that as a disabled foreigner living in Japan, with my disability exemption card I can get reduced prices on Shinkansen, and a reduced mobile phone bill in fact, although exactly how good ‘deal’ you get varies from prefecture to prefecture.
In the UK, even the Telegraph, hardly a bastion of support for pro-welfarist legislation has been reasonably supportive of the DDA, although quick to put out its shortcomings. This was probably largely by disabled people appealing to the newspaper to actually write about disability issues, but also because of the presence of a good social affairs editor at the newspaper, alas it hardly ever disabled people themselves who write the article.
So I reiterate, I applaud the Japan Times, although I do wonder why other broadsheets didn’t not seem to report this story at all.