June 7 2021
On 28 May, the revised Disability Discrimination Act was unanimously passed by the House of Councillors at a plenary session, requiring private companies to provide “reasonable accommodation” to support the mobility and communication of people with disabilities. The law will come into effect within three years of its promulgation. The law is expected to change the current situation in which it is difficult to find a consultation service for eliminating discrimination, and to promote the establishment of a one-stop consultation service.
The government will now consider the fundamental policy based on the revised law and make a cabinet decision.
Reasonable accommodation refers to the removal of barriers faced by people with disabilities in specific life situations by government agencies and businesses through dialogue with them. Failure to do so constitutes discrimination under the Act. Currently, government agencies are obliged to provide reasonable accommodation, but private companies are only obliged to make efforts. From now on, private companies will also be obliged to hold individual dialogues with people with disabilities. The House of Councillors’ Cabinet Committee heard about a case where a wheelchair user was refused entry to a restaurant, and after consulting with the Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries and the Ministry of Health, Labour and Welfare, there was no response. In response to a number of cases where wheelchair users were denied entry, the revised law establishes new provisions on the responsibility of the national government and local governments to cooperate with each other.
The Cabinet Office intends to use this provision as the basis for establishing a one-stop consultation service at the national level.
The Cabinet Office also envisages that the centralised consultation service will be able to respond to consultations from companies that are obliged to provide reasonable care. What is reasonable accommodation? There has been a lot of discussion since the law came into force in April 2016 about what is meant by reasonable accommodation.
It is important to have a sense of imagination when you see a person with a problem, ‘What should I do? It’s important to be able to imagine what to do.
Tomoko Takagi, Director General of the Japan Carefit Co-operative Education Organization (Tokyo), which holds more than 200 training sessions for companies on reasonable accommodation every year, says: “Reasonable accommodation is a concept that has been around for a long time.
In the first place, reasonable accommodation is defined with the condition that it should not be an excessive burden, and there is no right or wrong way to do it.
There is no right or wrong way to do it,” he says. “We get a lot of enquiries from companies asking how far we should go. If the law is amended to make it compulsory, the number is likely to increase,” says Takagi. Even so, what is taught in the training is the same as before.
A total of 190,000 people from more than 1,000 companies have taken the training for “service assistants,” which the organization started 21 years ago.
The aim of the training is to develop people who can “care fit” a person’s needs in a way that is appropriate to the situation.
The training is a precursor to rational consideration, and is recommended by the Ministry of Land, Infrastructure, Transport and Tourism (MLIT) in its hospitality guidelines.
There have been reports that employees’ communication skills and business performance have improved,” says Takagi. Until the revised law comes into effect, she says she will continue to tell people that it is time to make reasonable accommodation a personal matter.