November 2nd 2018
TOKYO — The governments of 32 prefectures still maintain inappropriate conditions for job applicants with disabilities, such as requiring them to be able to commute to work on their own, a Mainichi Shimbun survey has found.
All of Japan’s 47 prefectures have had such conditions at one time or another. However, organizations for people with disabilities and their supporters are demanding that such conditions be done away with completely, saying that keeping such rules are “excluding people with disabilities.”
Refusing to hire an applicant because of their use of a wheelchair or an artificial respirator is prohibited for private employers as “undue, discriminatory treatment” under the revised Act on Employment Promotion etc. of Persons with Disabilities implemented in April 2016.
Cases of inappropriate employment conditions set by central government offices, such as the Ministry of Finance, emerged on Oct. 26. Health, Labor and Welfare Minister Takumi Nemoto told reporters at that time that the practice “runs counter to the purpose of the law,” and that public employers are also required to follow the stipulations of the employment promotion act.
As for prefectural governments, the Mainichi found that almost all had required the ability to commute and work without assistance for job applicants with disabilities in the past. Currently, 22 prefectures including Miyagi, Saitama, Chiba, Nara, Kagawa and Nagasaki still adhere to those two conditions. Tokyo still requires unassisted commuting as a condition, while nine other prefectures, such as Fukushima, Gunma, Mie and Kochi, maintain that applicants need to be able to work without assistance.
When asked about the reason for setting those conditions, an official of the Miyagi Prefectural Government in northern Japan explained that they need workers with disabilities who are capable of unassisted commuting and working “because we do not have the manpower to help disabled workers commute and work.”
Regarding the requirement for applicants to work on their own, officials of prefectures including Nara, Tokushima and Saga, in western and southern Japan, said the condition was set out of concern for the confidentiality of personal information because helpers without clearance might gain access to protected private documents.
Fifteen of the 47 prefectural governments also had such conditions in the past, but have done away with them due to the anti-discrimination clauses in the act on employment promotion for the disabled.
An official of the northernmost prefecture of Hokkaido said the government removed the requirements “because we judged that they went too far” in excluding certain applicants. In the case of Niigata Prefecture in northern Japan, the government stopped requiring the two conditions after a request for them to do so from an organization for people with disabilities.
Of the 32 prefectures that still maintain the employment criteria, at least 14 said they are considering eliminating them.