Tsukui Yamayuri En Incident and the Legal Ban on Discrimination of the Disable

Hanafusa Ryuichiro SJ
Cooperator Priest of Kashoren

  Most probably all of you remember the shocking incident that took place in Kanagawa Prefecture last July. That was the incident of the massacre of 19 disabled persons admitted to Tsukui Yamayuri En and the 27 severely wounded. It was the worst massacre by a single killer in Japan since World War II.

  For several years I have been involved, as a cooperator priest, in the work for the disable through the Catholic Association of Disabled Persons of Japan (Kashoren). That is the reason why I felt a shocking convulsion at the incident.

  Just at the time, in April, the “Act related to Promoting Elimination of Discrimination due to Disabilities” had been enforced in Japan. The “Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities” adopted by the United Nations in December 2006 had become the background for the Japanese legislation. That was a Human Rights Treaty based upon the obligation imposed by the International Human Rights Law that secures the rights and respect to disabled persons and forbids their discrimination. By the conclusion of the international treaties, Japan continues to make the necessary national legal adjustments and concentrates in working for the reforms of the system regarding disabled persons. In 2014 Japan ratified the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities. The legislation on the Act on Elimination of Discrimination has been implemented legally in Japan based on the Convention of their rights.

  The main points are (1) Prohibition of unjust discriminatory treatment (2) The offer of reasonable accommodation (there is a fixed legal obligation for official public organizations as well as obligatory efforts for enterprises). All Jesuit institutions, like churches, schools, universities and convents are also included. In other words, Jesuit works cannot deny the services of the disable due to their disability. That will be considered an act of unjust discriminatory treatment.

  And on top of it obligatory efforts arise to offer a reasonable accommodation to the disable to participate freely. For instance, imagine that there is a meeting in the 3rd floor of a building without elevator and a wheelchair disable expresses his/her desire to attend. What could be done so that that person can freely participate? To reflect on the issue refers to reasonable accommodation. A solution could be to change the meeting place to the 1st floor or maybe to see about finding people who will bring the wheelchair person up to the 3rd floor. Such acts can be taken as reasonable accommodation. Again, to explore how the facilities could be repaired, like to install an elevator in the building, are ways to stress reasonable accommodation. Supposing that a blind person participates in a gathering and is unable to read the documents distributed a reasonable accommodation will be to prepare them in braille. There are many kinds of disabilities among the disable and naturally the ways of reasonable accommodation vary. Thus various detailed approaches are needed.

  At the time of the implementation of the legal ban against discrimination many lives of disable persons living in Tsukui Yamayuri En were claimed not to have any value and thus had to be killed. Eugenic thinking was behind the massacre. Simply said the thinking goes like this, excellent people are useful and worthy to live but since inferior people are of little use their lives are unworthy. The massacre of the Nazis under Hitler is typical. Millions of Jews, Romas, trans genders, disable and others considered to be eugenically disqualified to live were massacred. The criminal of the Tsukui Yamayuri En confessed he acted following Hitler’s eugenic thinking.

  Such way of thinking is totally irreconcilable with the Act on Elimination of Discrimination due to Disabilities and the International Convention on the Rights of the Persons with Disabilities. All organizations supporting disabled persons have clearly stated their opposition to eugenic thinking. One cannot find any biblical support of such thinking in the Gospel of Jesus Christ. There is a clear resonance of the Gospel in the legislation banning the discrimination of disabled people. I think that we should clearly select to give testimony of such Gospel attitude.

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