According to Chapter 1, Article 2 of Japan’s Basic Act for Persons with Disabilities, Japan defines an individual with a disability as “a person with a physical disability, a person with an intellectual disability, a person with a mental disability (including developmental disabilities), and other persons with disabilities affecting the functions of the body or mind (hereinafter referred to collectively as “disabilities”), and who are in a state of facing substantial limitations in their continuous daily life or social life because of a disability 2 or a social barrier”.
The Basic Act for Persons with Disabilities (Act No. 84 of 1970) provides for the basic principles relating to the measures to support the independence and social participation of persons with disabilities in order to ensure that no citizens are divided according to whether or not they have a disability as well as the realization of a society of coexistence with mutual respect for personality and individuality.
The Act for Promotion of Employment of Persons with Disabilities (2012) has four basic principles: (1) the principle of normalization, (2) efforts to help individuals with disabilities to become independent, (3) the responsibilities of employers when employing persons with disabilities, and (4) the responsibilities of the national and local authorities to these goals.
To be covered by the Promotion of Employment for Persons with Disabilities Act, a person must be “subject to considerable restriction in vocational life, or have great difficulty in leading a vocational life”. Therefore, those with a mild degree of disability and only minor restriction on their work are not considered to be covered by the Act.
The Act for Eliminating Discrimination against Persons with Disabilities (2016), similarly to the 1970 Basic Act for Persons with Disabilities, aims to “promote the elimination of discrimination on the basis of disability, thereby ensuring that no citizens are discriminated according to whether or not they have a disability”. This law requires reasonable accommodations for people with disabilities in the workplace, and in some cases provides government allowances to cover accommodation expenses (if meeting or exceeding quota).
Japan signed and ratified the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities in 2014.
Employer Legal Requirements
Amended in 2013, the Act on Promotion of Employment of the Disabled aims at ensuring more disabled people are employed, and took effect in 2018. The other major part of the amendment, regarding prohibition of discrimination in hiring the disabled, had come into force in 2016.
The ratio of disabled people to be hired by private businesses was increased from 2.0% to 2.2%. The ratio for national and local governments is 2.5%. The ratio for prefectural education committee members is 2.4%. By the end of March 2021, the ratio for private businesses increased to 2.3%. It will raise again still to 2.5% in April 2024 and again to 2.7% by the end of fiscal 2026.
References: Japan: Employers Obligated to Employ More People with Disabilities, Including People with Developmental Disorders | Library of Congress (loc.gov) and Japan gov’t to raise employment rate of people with disabilities – The Mainichi
The Basic Act on the Formation of an Advanced Information and Telecommunications Network Society aims to “provide for basic principles and a basic policy on the development of strategies with respect to the formation of an advanced information and telecommunications network society, to determine the responsibilities of the Government of Japan and local public entities, to establish the Strategic Headquarters for the Promotion of an Advanced Information and Telecommunications Network Society and to provide for the development of a Priority Policy Program on the formation of an advanced information and telecommunications network society”. There is no mention of disability.
The Basic Act for Persons with Disabilities outlines a systemic promotion of measures to make public facilities and information accessible for persons with disabilities.
No enforcement law, but JIS guideline plays an important role in raising awareness while the governemnt does website testing to determine accessibility levels.
There is no common definition of reasonable accommodation.
In Japan, there is a tendency to not fully integrate individuals with disabilities into the workforce.
Traditional Japanese values of collectivism and conformity are increasingly sharing relevance in modern Japan with values of individualism and social diversity.
It is noteworthy that Japanese primary and secondary schooling is largely not inclusive and commonly segregates students with disabilities. Classroom segregation has a negative effect on both the disabled and non-disabled, leading to a broader society that traditionally “has not known how to talk to each other.”
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“Approximately 9.63 million people in Japan live with some kind of disability, including people with intellectual and mental disabilities. That’s about 7.6 percent of the total population, or about one in every 13 people. Approximately 700,000 people in Japan with disabilities work in the private and public sectors, less than 10% of the total number.”
Certification is in place for women-owned business enterprises through an affiliation with WeConnect.
Talent Sourcing Resources
Japan Organization for Employment of the Eldrely and Persons with Disabilities (JEED) has FAQs for employers, vocational employment center directories, and employer resources for reporting. It’s a comprehensive resource for understanding the employment procedures.
Disability Equality Training Forum (DET) is a Japan-based network of disability inclusion trainers based throughout Asia. DET facilitators are trained by the network and are predominantly people with disabilities. The Japanese government helped establish the network through the Japan International Cooperation Agency.
Disabled Peoples International Japan (DPI-Japan) is the leading cross-disability, umbrella association in Japan. They operate an Employment Committee with an advocacy focus and have conducted U.S. visits to observe ADA implementation. They have partnered with Kirin Beer, who operates an inclusive workplace in Japan.
ACE – conducts seminars for personnel and employees with disabilities – they are able to carry out educational activities for the companies, produce role models, and make recommendations to managers.
Mirairo – Transforming disabilities into value based on the “Barrier Value” corporate philosophy.