On 11 October 2006, the parliament of Chiba Prefecture unanimously passed the ordinance prohibiting discrimination against people with disabilities, with the title "the Ordinance for the Development of Chiba Prefecture where People with and without Disabilities Live Together at Ease"[PDF59KB]. The ordinance, which is to come into force in July 2007, aims at creating a society where people with and without disabilities can lead comfortable life, respecting and supporting each other. It is the first comprehensive ordinance in Japan that prohibits discrimination against people with disabilities.
Although the draft ordinance[PDF174KB] had been submitted to the parliament in February this year, it was treated as pending because of the opposition from the Liberal Democratic Party, business associations and others. The prefectural government had withdrawn the draft and submitted the revised draft to the September session of the parliament. Governor Akiko Domoto stated, "The enactment of the ordinance is a starting point, rather than the goal. We should be involved in deeper discussions, instead of stopping them, with a view to getting understanding".
The adopted ordinance consists of the preamble and 36 articles, categorized under five chapters which cover (i) general provisions, (ii) resolution of cases of discrimination, (iii) the Promotion Council, (iv) measures for better understanding and (v) miscellaneous provisions. Although the original draft had had broad definitions of disabilities, not being limited to certain categories, it faced challenges by business associations and others who deal directly with people with disabilities in such fields as education and employment, which forced the prefectural government to make revisions.
The adopted ordinance limits its coverage to the five categories of disabilities prescribed in national legislation. The provision concerning publication of cases of discrimination was deleted. Freedom of children with disabilities to make their own choice, with their families, concerning schooling was also substantially constrained. On the other hand, it still has progressive elements, including precise definitions of discrimination against people with disabilities, which are the first of this kind.
The United Nations General Assembly is likely to adopt a Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities in the present session. The Chiba ordinance is expected to play an important role in the national implementation of the Convention.
· "First Ordinance against Discrimination Based on Disabilities Was Adopted in Chiba Prefecture", Nihon Keizai Shimbun, 12 October 2006 [Japanese]
· Ordinance for the Development of Chiba Prefecture where People with and without Disabilities Live Together at Ease [PDF59KB] [Full text of the adopted ordinance; Japanese]
· Draft Ordinance for the Development of Chiba Prefecture where People with and without Disabilities Live Together at Ease [PDF174KB] [Draft submitted to the regular session of the parliament in February 2006; Japanese]
· Yomiuri Daily News, "Chiba finds helping disabled no easy task"