By Barrier Free Japan
January 30 2023
TOKYO – Lawmaker Yasuhiko Funago, who has amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, or ALS, on Friday 27th January 2023, became the first in Japan to ask questions using a text-to-speech function of a computer in a parliamentary plenary meeting.
Using the function to read out a prepared speech on his laptop, Funago urged PM Fumio Kishida to reduce defense spending.
The Mainchi Shimbun reported that in his opening remarks, Funago stated, “It is the first time in Japan’s constitutional history that representative questions have taken place in such a form. This will open the way to make it commonplace for others using ventilators and those with speech impairments to ask questions at plenary sessions.” This invited applause from other lawmakers of both ruling and opposition parties. Addressing Kishida, Funago also said, “The government should decrease the defense budget and divert funds into budgets that are directly linked with the enhancement of people’s lives.”
A senior official of Reiwa Shinsengumi commented, “Funago is a symbolic figure of the party’s formation. I hope that when people see someone with a severe disability, who had few chances to attend Diet sessions, on the podium, they will feel the conviction to push for a diverse society.”
Episode Notes: https://barrierfreejapan.com/2023/01/28/lawmaker-funago-1st-to-use-text-to-speech-at-japan-diet/
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