Demand for Social Security Measures by Independent Living Association in Japan

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Center for Independent Living
June 1996

We are disabled people who want to live as independently as possible in the community with staff to support us. In spite of all our campaigning efforts directed toward the government and the society in general to make independent living possible for people with disabilities, we are still a long way from our goal. We need more support to reach our goal.

To get support for independent living for disabled people is difficult because our requirements are not understood easily by society in general and the national government and other official sectors are not working earnestly enough towards fulfilling our requirements.

Several years ago, it was official policy that disabled people live in institutions. After the International Year of the Disabled, this policy was changed and it was decided that disabled people should be able to live in their own homes. It seems, however, that this change was made to save the government money. The government wanted to make the disabled person's family - parents, children and partner - responsible for the disabled person's care. The government would in turn be responsible to fill any shortfall in care. and it was the government's intention to fill the shortfall with home help from unpaid volunteers.

At present disabled people are entitled to a standard pension, special benefits for disabled and a livelihood protection. Each of these benefits has its limitation. We have to meet special criteria in order to qualify for these benefits, and the criteria are very strict. For instance, we are assured only four hours of help a day, and each home helper can only give eighteen hours of help a week. This makes it virtually impossible for a severely disabled person to live independently. Of course, there are different degrees of disability, some people need only a few hours of help per week, whereas others require twenty-four hours help per day. Many disabled people cannot live independent lives if they are not given adequate support every day. The limitations imposed by the govenment puts an incredible strain on both disabled people and their families. It should be every disabled person's right to be provided with the amount of support he/she needs to live an idependent life.

Disabled people living in Tokyo have urged the Metropolitan Government to implement an official care plan for disabled people living at home. Today it still has not been provided. People with disabilities do not get adequate support and must continue to rely on the generosity of volunteers to make life manageable.

The situation for disabled people is even worse in other parts of the country where only a small proportion of disabled people receive any benefits at all. This situation cannot be allowed to continue and therefore we must make a concerted effort to persuade the Government to instigate social security measures for assistance for disabled persons. We believe that the measures should be the responsibility of the national government and not the local government. Our association is working towards obtaining benefits for as many disabled people as possible. We are determining the social security measures that are needed and working to convince the Ministry of Health and Welfare to provide them.

We believe that by helping each other and working together we will create a better future for ourselves.

9 June 1996
Center for Independent Living
2-13-48 Kunitachi - City Kita
Wakore Kunitachi 102
103 Tokyo