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Wednesday, Feb. 29, 2012
DPJ's broken promise to the disabled
The government's handling of a law for providing various services to physically, intellectually and mentally disabled people will deepen the distrust such people and their families harbor toward the Democratic Party of Japan and the government. The DPJ should remember its election promise to abolish the law, which went into force in 2006.
The law, which is intended to increase self-reliance of disabled people, integrated services for those with physical, intellectual and mental disabilities that until then had been provided separately. But because the law requires such recipients to pay 10 percent of the costs, in principle, the more serious one's disability is, the greater their financial burden becomes. At facilities that provide job training and employment to handicapped people, cases existed in which workers' service costs exceeded their earnings.
Groups of disabled people in various locations filed lawsuits, declaring that the law violates the Constitution, which guarantees the right to maintain the minimum standards of wholesome and cultured living.
In its manifesto for the 2009 Lower House election, the DPJ promised to abolish the law. In 2010, the government and the plaintiffs reached compromise and produced an agreement that the government would abolish the law and enact a new law.
Following a revision of the law that went into force in December that year, from April 12, 2012, the financial burden of disabled people will be determined by their income, not their disability, and 85 percent of service users already do not have to pay due to various measures enacted to lighten their burdens.
On the basis of the 2010 agreement, a Cabinet Office panel made a 60-item proposal in August 2011. The health and welfare ministry plans a further revision of the law, which it hopes will go into effect in April 2013. The revised version will retain the basic mechanism for providing services to disabled people.
Disabled people remain angry because the ministry revision plan only includes three of the panel's 60 proposed items. The government should sincerely listen to their demands. It also should pay serious attention to the complaint that the current classification of degree of disabilities is too rigid and does not reflect the true conditions of disabled people.