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HOME  > Past issues  > 2019 January 16 - 22  > Japan needs to improve policies in line with UN convention on rights of disabled
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2019 January 16 - 22 [SOCIAL ISSUES]
editorial 

Japan needs to improve policies in line with UN convention on rights of disabled

January, 16, 2019
Akahata editorial (excerpts)

January 20 this year will celebrate the fifth anniversary of Japan’s ratification of the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD). The UN accord aims to protect the rights of all persons with or without disabilities and obliges state parties to take necessary measures to achieve this goal. The current situation in Japan is, however, far different from the type of society that the convention envisages. It is important for Japan to take aggressive measures so that disabled people will be able to maintain their dignity, improve their living conditions, and enjoy their basic human rights.

Last year, disabled persons who were forced to receive eugenic sterilization under the former Eugenic Protection Law launched court battles, saying that the treatments were illegal. Underlying this law was the toxic idea that persons with disabilities are useless and valueless. It shares a common root with the eugenic philosophy which denies the dignity of persons who are deemed “inferior” based on their abilities.

Under the former Eugenic Protection Law, around 16,500 people underwent sterilization without their consent and around 8,500 persons received the treatment “with their consent”, at least ostensibly. Those subjected to the former law were persons with mental retardation, mental illnesses, or diseases that were thought to be genetic. The law was designed to prevent the birth of “defective” children based on the philosophy of eugenics. The law was effective until 1996 even under the current Constitution. This fact carries grave significance.

Currently, 15 people across the country are suing the national government, claiming that the forced sterilization they received was in violation of their human rights. In reaction to this situation, lawmakers of both ruling and opposition parties plan to jointly submit to the Diet a bill to relieve those who were victimized by the former law. The national government should apologize to and compensate all the victims.

The UN Committee on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities next year will review the Japanese government’s report on the implementation of the CRPD. State parties to the convention are required to compile a report. Non-governmental organizations representing the interests of the disabled in Japan are preparing to submit to the UN their own reports on the current situation surrounding persons with disabilities and measures they think need to be implemented. It is necessary to make this year a year of implementing policies in line with the UN convention which Japan ratified and improve the livelihoods and rights of the disabled.

Past related articles:
> Disabled people seek to submit report regarding convention on disabled persons’ rights to UN [June 20, 2018]
> Bipartisan parliamentary league formed to help victims of forced eugenic sterilization [March 8, 2018]

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