Fieldnotes: Disability in Japan

| | Comments (0)

01.gifIn Japan, people with disabilities are eligible for a disability welfare ID card (障害者手帳). The card certifies that you have a registered disability and makes you eligible for a broad array of social welfare benefits including a disability welfare pension, faster access to public housing, free municipal transit (buses and subways), lower income taxes, subsidized durable medical equipment, and discounts on Japan Railways and national highways, among other things. Companies can also hire you under the Employment Promotion Act for People with Disabilities (障害者雇用促進法).

People with severe disabilities who are living independently can also receive attendant care under the government individualized care plan (支援費制度). This plan is currently being revised by the government and is the subject of previous blog entries here.

The cards are issued by prefectural social welfare offices (社会福祉課) using guidelines published by the Ministry of Health, Labor, and Welfare. These guidelines are based primarily on degree of functional impairment and not quality of life. You will need a medical diagnosis issued by a hospital authorized to certify disabilities. It's easiest to receive the ID card before you are 18 years old, since after the age of 18 the certification process becomes more complicated.

The government counts 6,559,000 persons with disabilities, or about 5.2% of the total population. Of this, 3,516,000 are people with physical disabilities (身体障害); 459,000 are those with intellectual disabilities (知的障害); and 2,584,000 with mental disabilities (精神障害).  The disability cards and the criteria and benefits are different for each of these three types of disabilities, although the MHLW is planning on unifying them under the currently proposed system.

I do not see anything in the law that forbids foreigners from carrying the disability ID card, although individual prefectural welfare offices may dissuade them from trying to apply. They may not, however, be eligible for the full array of pension benefits, but some locales I have noticed offer a (smaller) degree of support for resident foreigners with disabilities.

Note that while many Americans would find the notion of carrying a disability ID card distasteful, in practice many Americans with disabilities already have to do so in the form of a disability parking permit or disability/Medicare bus pass. Also, as anyone who has tried to file an employment discrimination claim under the Americans with Disabilities Act, proving that you have a disability is very difficult under the current legal system. So neither system is perfect.

Previous entries about disabilities in Japan have been stored under the Fieldnotes category in this blog. For further information about the disability system in Japan, visit the Ministry of Health, Labor, and Welfare website, read the many titles in Japanese, or .... wait for my book on this topic.

Copyright © 2005 Karen Nakamura. All rights reserved.

Leave a comment

New!: You can sign in using your Facebook, Google, OpenID, mixi, Yahoo, MovableType, or other third-party authentication system.

Type the characters you see in the picture above.

Monthly Archives

Sponsored Links

Powered by Movable Type 5.11

Sponsored by



Sponsored Links

About this Entry

This page contains a single entry by Karen Nakamura published on April 3, 2005 3:37 PM.

Link: Carl Zeis T* Biogon 35mm f/2 hands-on review was the previous entry in this blog.

Disability Law Blog: U.S. Supreme Court Archives is the next entry in this blog.

Find recent content on the main index or look in the archives to find all content.

August 2014

Sun Mon Tue Wed Thu Fri Sat
          1 2
3 4 5 6 7 8 9
10 11 12 13 14 15 16
17 18 19 20 21 22 23
24 25 26 27 28 29 30