By Barrier Free Japan with extracts from The Mainichi
23rd March 2020
TOKYO – On Thursday March 19th, Eiko Kimura, a representative of the House of Councillors and a member of the Reiwa Shinsengumi, who has cerebral palsy, was excluded from a cross-party committee meeting about the novel coronavirus threat.
At a press conference at the National Diet, Kimura said:
“I don’t know the reason for it. It amounts to discrimination of people with disabilities”
Kimura is one of two members of the minor opposition Reiwa Shinsengumi party who were elected in the July 2019 upper house election. Both she and fellow party member Yasuhiko Funago live with severe disabilities.
On her website Kimura stated that:
“I submitted a request form to the Constitutional Democratic Party (CDP) requesting that it participate in the ‘New Coronavirus Countermeasures Government and Opposition Party Council.’ As a result, the Constitutional Democratic Party has contacted me that attendance will not be granted and that only paper requests will be allowed.”
Kimura also said at the press conference that:
“[a]s a person with disabilities who, if infected, is at greater risk of developing a serious disease, I want to be able to give my opinion on plans to defend disabled people from the coronavirus,” she said, emphasizing her desire to be included by the major political parties.
In response to her comments, Jun Azumi, the CDP’s Diet affairs chief, said to reporters, “We communicated the intentions of the Reiwa Shinsengumi party to the Liberal Democratic Party, but were told ‘We have continued up till now to hold talks between the established parties, and so adding the Reiwa party would be difficult.'”