Japan Country Report to World Blind Union Asia Pacific, General Assembly, Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia

1. Population Profile Data of the Blind Community

In Japan, in order to receive welfare benefits pertaining to a disability, physical disability certificates are issued from the government. According to the 2016 report on the number of people having physical disability certificates, there are 312,000 visually impaired people ages 18 and above living at home. Added with the number of visually impaired people in hospitals and nursing institutions, the number is approximately 330,000. Among the visually impaired living at home, elders with ages 65 and above are estimated to be 70% – approximately 230,000.

Further, Japan Ophthalmologists Association reports that there are approximately 1.65 million people who are “legally blind” under the US definition of “visually impaired,” which constitute approximately 1.3% of the entire population of Japan.

Caused diseases are: 20.9% glaucoma, 19.0% diabetic retinopathy, 13.5% retinitis pigmentosa, 9.3% age-related macular degeneration, 8.6% optic nerve atrophy/choroidal atrophy, 7.8% high myopia, 3.4% corneal disease, 3.2% cataracts, and others 14.3%. (Data taken from the Japan Ministry of Health, Labor and Welfare Research Team, 2007)

2.Improvement of Opportunities and Challenges

(I) Employment

In Japan, as a premise to ratifying the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (“CRPD”), the “Law to Promote the Eliminationof Discrimination on the Basis of Disability” was enacted in 2013, and the “Act on the Promotion of People with Disabilities in Employment” was amended. In 2014, the CRPD was finally ratified, and as a result, all employers are prohibited from discrimination on the basis of disability and are obligated to provide reasonable accommodation. In addition, employment opportunities for people with disabilities have expanded with the compulsory employment rate of people with disabilities for private sectors being raised from 2.0% to 2.2% from April 2018. However, the employment rate of people with visual disability is steadily low.

(Ii) Education

As for education for people with disabilities, Japan in principle segregates education for disabled and non-disabled students. However, after the amendment to the law in 2014, the intention of the student is highly respected in choosing inclusive education or special education. Provision of braille textbooks were guaranteed to those students in special education, but now provision of braille and large-print textbooks are guaranteed also to students who choose inclusive education.

(Iii) Transportation

The “Law on the Promotion of Facilitation of Mobility for Elders and People with Disabilities” for the use of transportation systems has been amended, and in addition to setting up dotted guide tiles and audio announcements and guidances in stationyards, installation of platform gates to prevent passengers from falling off the platform to the railroad tracks are increasingly promoted. Furthermore, activities to provide voluntary support byrailway companies and general passengers (or requesting them ourselves) are expanding.

(Iv) ICT

In expanding the barrier-free world on TV broadcasting and communications technology, it has been determined to increase implementation of audio guides and audio description. More specifically, the target percentage to implement audio descriptions for private television broadcasters was a mere 5%, but the goal has changed to raise the percentage up to 15% within the five years between 2018-2023.

(V) Any Other Areas

Nothing to note particularly.

3.Changes in Government Policies

In order to provide the availability of orientation and mobility training throughout the nation, the number of institutions that provide such training services has been increased since April 2018.

The Japanese government decided to ratify the Marrakesh Treaty in April 2018 and is working to arrangedomestic laws to be in line with the treaty for full implementation.

In Relation to Low Vision

since 2015, as a part of low vision care treatment, medical insurancecoverage has extended to an ophthalmologist’s referralof service providersand institutions who provideorthotic training or orientation and mobility training to patients with low vision.

since July 2018, the certification standard for vision impairment used for grading physical disability certification has relaxed from “the added visual acuity level of both eyes” to “the visual acuity level of either of the eyes with better eyesight.”

4. Development in Affiliates’Capacity

Nothing to report in particular on this point.

5. Any Development Relevant to the WBU 2016-2020Quadrennial Strategy

Nothing to report in particular on this point as well.

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