How Japan Views Disability
Start writing a post
Politics and Activism

How Japan Views Disability

In light of recent terror events, how does the nation treat the disabled?

How Japan Views Disability
Japan Times

Early in the morning on Tuesday, July 26, a 26-year-old man decided to act upon a dream "of a world where the disabled could die in peace."

So he broke into a facility for the disabled through a window at 2 a.m. He tied up two staff members before killing at least 19 people in their sleep and injuring 26 in a knife attack. The man later turned himself into the Kanagawa Prefecture police an hour later, reportedly carrying a "bloodstained knife and cloth," along with a bag of other "edged tools."

In a letter he wrote, he claimed to feel "sorry" for people with disabilities, especially those bound to wheelchairs for life. He wrote about their lack of contact with family members and believed that those with more extreme diseases should be euthanized. He had written to the government earlier in the year, advocating for euthanasia "with the consent of [the disabled person's] guardians." His proposition was rejected. So he decided to take the matter into his own hands.

This was the deadliest mass murder committed in Japan since World War II.

This act of pity for the disabled is a form of ableism, and this could be one of its deadliest manifestations. According to the website Stop Ableism, this prejudice "devalue[s] and limit[s] the potential of persons with disabilities." In fact, this man in Japan limited it so much to the point that he believed they did not deserve to live anymore.

This pity he had was not compassion.

The Pacific Standard Magazine recently covered this story in respect to violence toward the disabled here at home, if you're curious.

How does Japan treat the disabled?

In spite of this mass murder, Japan is a very accommodating toward the disabled throughout its country. Just from personal experience, the sidewalks are lined with tactile pavements to assist the blind and visually impaired. The tactile paving helps direct those with visual impairments around the streets with ease.

The pressure is on for Japan to make their country as accessible as possible in preparation for the 2020 Tokyo Olympics. Thus, the country is nervous that this recent knife attack and its implication will set their efforts back.

Some quick statistics about disabilities in Japan,

Japan's total population - 126,000,000 people
Handicapped population - 7,510,000 (5.9%), so one in 16 Japanese has a disability
- Physically handicapped - 2,933,000
- Visually handicapped - 305,000
- Limb handicap - 1,657,000 people
- Internal-organ handicap - 621,000
- Multiple handicaps - 179,000

How does this match up to the United States? In America, one in five people has a disability. Perhaps we should consider how accessible our own country is when 20 percent of our country is disabled.

The mentally ill/disabled

When it comes to mental illness and mental disability, however, Japan is a little less vocal about how many of its citizen possess these conditions. Why? There is an old but sadly popular stigma around mental illness and disability in Japan. It's seen as a weakness and a hindrance to one's potential. For example, it's not kosher to mention a mental illness in medical records for employment since it might give employers a reason not to hire you. Thus not many of those with mental illness or disability will seek medical assistance.

However, this is expected to change with a recent law that, after a five year grace period, will be put into full action (hopefully) in 2018 urging employment without disability discrimination.

The issue with the recent mass murder, however, is that the majority of the victims in the knifing were in the home with mental illnesses and disabilities. Does this show the stigma in Japan is still present, or was the attacker himself mentally ill and projecting his personal fear on others with similar, but less violence afflictions?

Final thoughts

This is a terrible tragedy, but like most, we should not judge a country or its people based on its violence. If someone outside of America were to judge us on our violence and domestic terrorism, no one would ever believe we were truly just and truth-seeking people.

We mourn those lost in this attack, our prayers are with their families and with those who were in the home and lived, for they are still shaken up. Our prayers and thoughts should also be with the attacker and those who may sympathize with him, for they might need prayer the most for how hateful their beliefs are.

Report this Content
This article has not been reviewed by Odyssey HQ and solely reflects the ideas and opinions of the creator.

I Didn't Know That I Would Lose My Best Friend To Her Boyfriend

I didn't know that you would stop doing the things that make you happy. The things everyone used to judge you for. You are the type of person who does things on YOUR terms and now they're on his.

I Didn't Know That I Would Lose My Best Friend To Her Boyfriend

As your best friend, all I ever want is for you to be happy. Because as best friends, we know exactly what makes the other happy. I know all your weird and quirky lingo. I know how much you hate certain foods and most of all, I know the things that are important to you in life.

Keep Reading... Show less

How to Celebrate Valentine's Day Without a Valentine

You know YOU are not determined by your romantic status

How to Celebrate Valentine's Day Without a Valentine

Although the most romantic and love-filled holiday is right around the corner, it's important to know that Feb.14, the middle day of the shortest month of the year, doesn't need to be determined by your current romantic status. With that being said, you can either choose to sulk over the fact that you're single or you can make the best out of Valentine's Day without even having one.

Here are a few ideas to celebrate the day:

Keep Reading... Show less

7 Fun Facts About The Eiffel Tower

The iconic landmark is reinventing itself with a splashy new color.

Eiffel Tower

Soon, the 2024 Summer Olympics are coming to Paris, and the Eiffel Tower will be in the spotlight.

Embedded so much into Paris's identity, the iconic landmark is no stranger to historic events and world-class gatherings over the years. It is sure to shine again.

Keep Reading... Show less

Blue Skies Weren't Always Blue

You don't just start as the person you are meant to be; there is a journey full of ups and downs that mold a person, so this is my journey.

Blue Skies Weren't Always Blue

Overall I'd love to say I grew up a happy overly enthusiastic child that was taught to love herself and be loved by everyone else, but I can't say that and I never will. My smile wasn't always as bright as it is today, but this is the story behind my smile, the story about how I got here to the happiest place I'll ever be. I'll begin at freshman year of high school.

Keep Reading... Show less

The Heart Wants what the Heart Wants

Just remember sometimes it is gonna hurt, whether we want it to or not!

The Heart Wants what the Heart Wants
Where to start...... Let me start with the cliche that life throws us curveballs and what we do with it is what counts.

One day he walked into my life. UNEXPECTED! And one day he walked out!

Keep Reading... Show less

Subscribe to Our Newsletter

Facebook Comments