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    Disabled Japanese are often invisible. Will Paralympics bring lasting light? – Honolulu, Hawaii

    Honolulu, Hawaii 2021-09-04 06:45:00 –

    Tokyo >> Before announcing the arrival of the Paralympics, Tokyo embarked on a series of projects to make people with disabilities feel closer to themselves. Currently, almost all stations have elevators, and some stations have safety barriers along the edges of the platform to protect the visually impaired. Approximately 3,200 rooms in the newly built hotel are wheelchair accessible, as are many public toilet stalls.

    Yuto Hirano, a Paralympic volunteer, welcomes this change. But one recent afternoon, when he rolled into a building that was advertised as wheelchair accessible, a barely noticeable barrier stopped him. He hit a slight slope leading to an automated front door and couldn’t get over it without someone pushing his wheelchair from behind.

    Mr. Hirano (31), an accountant at a technology company, said, “I’ve been told” yes, I can handle it “three or four times, but when I actually get there, I can’t actually go inside.” Said. “So I had to look back and go straight home.”

    The Paralympic organizers have repeatedly promoted the power of the Games to draw attention to the needs of all people with disabilities, not just elite athletes.

    Advocates have also embraced this spectacular international moment, stating that it shows how people living with physical and mental disabilities can achieve it at the highest levels. Beyond the inspirational uplifting, they say infrastructure changes can help improve the daily lives of people with disabilities in Japan.

    But these supporters are also wondering how much attention will continue in a country with a long history of keeping people with disabilities out of sight. In Japan, many children with disabilities are still educated in different schools and classes, large companies are subdividing for employees with disabilities, and people with intellectual disabilities are often It is stored in the facility.

    “Success has hardly been adjusted,” said Mark Bookman, a Japanese disability historian who has been in and out of Japan for 13 years. “If you made the school accessible, but you don’t have a workplace waiting on the other side, that’s not really a problem. If you made the train accessible, but you can’t access the school, it’s okay. Inside the building. If you’ve made an accessible toilet, but you don’t have access to the building itself, that’s not really a problem. “

    “Access is not the moment to solve a problem,” says Bookman. “Will that process continue after the Olympics, when international pressure has disappeared?”

    The questions raised by disability activists are not limited to the 9.6 million people in Japan, which the Ministry of Health classifies as disabled, or more than 7% of the population. With the world’s oldest population, Japan needs to deal with an increasing number of inhabitants with measures that people with various disabilities rely on to move on a daily basis.

    Proponents said the Paralympics provided an opportunity to hear from more people about ways to improve accessibility. If the tournament was held with an international audience, they could have provided an instant panel of daily experts to test whether the measures actually worked, they say. rice field.

    “I wanted the audience, including people with disabilities, to visit the Paralympic Games venue and stay in Tokyo to say,’Hey, this isn’t enough, or it’s not enough,’” Hirano said. Feel it directly and pressure the government to make better reforms. “

    As an example, he pointed out a large box-shaped taxi that was added to the taxi fleet in Tokyo to improve accessibility. Wheelchair users say taxi drivers often don’t stop when called or ask them to pay an extra fee, arguing that deploying a slope to help them get on is a hassle. There is.

    Keisuke Seto, a spokesman for Toyota Japan Taxi, acknowledged some dissatisfaction, but said, “We have reformed the slope removal process to make it easier for drivers to use,” reducing it from 63 steps to 24 steps. ..

    Aside from infrastructure, activists said the Paralympics can motivate people with disabilities who may feel limited in what they can do.

    Daisuke Uehara, who won the silver medal in para-ice hockey at the 2010 Vancouver Paralympics Winter Paralympics, said, “I know people who became disabled at some point in their lives and were trapped in their rooms.” “But I realized that by participating in sports, I can return to society even if I have a disability. It gives them a sense of potential.”

    Perhaps just as important is the prospect of opening the hearts of healthy people.

    “Some people think that people with disabilities can’t do anything,” said Kazuhiro Uno, an English teacher at the University of Tsukuba School for the Visually Impaired, saying that some of his alumni have participated in the competition. “I think the Paralympics are a kind of evidence or hint for them.”

    The Tokyo Organizing Committee of the Olympic Games still accepts children at several Paralympic events, even after banning domestic spectators. Seiko Hashimoto, chairman of the Tokyo Organizing Committee, said that watching live sports would help children “realize a more inclusive society.”

    Only Japan holds the Paralympics twice. When the Games were held in Tokyo in 1964, the Emperor and Princess Michiko adopted the Paralympics as one of the main causes and slowly changed the attitude of Japan.

    Hideo Kondo, 86, who participated in six events in 1964 as the organizers struggled to recruit Paralympic athletes, remembers being the first to see him freely move around in a wheelchair.

    After living and training in a facility that he described as “hidden from other societies,” he was amazed at the trust of the Olympic Village bus, which welcomes international competitors and wheelchair users.

    “I was trapped in a cage,” Kondo recalled. “The Paralympics were a moment of my enlightenment.”

    Despite decades of change, many supporters say Japan is still lagging behind other major nations. In 1996, the Government of Japan sponsored a program to force sterilization of thousands of people due to intellectual disability, mental illness, or hereditary illness. And it was in 2016 that Japan passed the Anti-Discrimination Act two years after signing the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities.

    Some of Japan’s delayed attitudes can be traced back to schools where children with disabilities are largely excluded from mainstream classrooms. In addition, government allocations require persons with disabilities to account for 2.5% of the workforce of public institutions and 2.3% of private companies, and some large companies have established separate subsidiaries dedicated to persons with disabilities. I am.

    Emi Aizawa, who heads a global partnership at Miraino, a consulting firm that helps companies develop a better environment for people with disabilities, said:

    The Paralympics offer the promise to turn stigma into a celebration and tell a story of victory over adversity. But the best result for athletes may be that they are considered exactly that — athletes, not people with disabilities.

    Takayuki Suzuki, who has won five medals in Japan since the opening of the Tokyo Paralympics on August 24, said he wants equal treatment.

    After finishing a 200-meter freestyle heat earlier this week, he said “my hope.” “Sports played by people with disabilities are received as excited as sports played by healthy people.”

    — —

    This article was originally New York Times..

    Disabled Japanese are often invisible. Will Paralympics bring lasting light? Source link Disabled Japanese are often invisible. Will Paralympics bring lasting light?

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