Photo of Misako Yasuhara with text saying "freeing people from institutions, with Misako Yasuhara"

Misako Yasuhara is a disability activist who has been participating to the Independent Living movement since 2000, in Osaka, Japan. A year later, in 2001, she founded the ILC, Aruru. Misako also served as a board member and the chairperson of the peer counseling committee of the Japan Council on Independent Living Centers. On 23-24 February, she visited our Brussels office with her translator Yayoi Mashimo. The exchange was enlightening in that we were able to hear about the struggles of the Center for Independent Living Aruru (in Osaka, Japan), its achievements and the difficulties of the local context.

“It is amazing to see the Disabled People share

compassions and a variety of their issues beyond

national borders.”

Misako Yasuhara

1. The independent living movement in Osaka, Japan

In Osaka, disability movement has been active, says Misako. Disabled People frequently take actions and negotiate with the public administrator. In July every year, nearly 300 persons with different disabilities assemble and make an appeal to local citizens. Due to its unique programs constructed, Osaka is one of the most progressive areas in Japan, in the transition from institution to community living, inclusive education, and barrier-free environment.

2. Transition from institution/hospital to community

Some Disabled People’s organizations started a regular visit to institutions, and consulted with the residents and assisted their outing. These engagements led some issues brought to the light, then the guidelines for the transition to community living was developed through a series of discussions with the public administration.

With an aim to embody the concept of the transition, a committee was established and it addressed a range of issues. Many disabled people successfully moved to community living, but some issues are yet to be solved.

3. Inclusive education

Disabled children go and study at mainstream schools (elementary and junior high), not special schools. Children who need medical care also go to mainstream school, where a nurse is staffed and the teachers take basic training of medical care. On the ground of the regional act on barrier-free in educational facility, elevator is equipped in most elementary and junior high schools. Some high schools organized programs for enrollment of students with intellectual disability. 67 students with intellectual disability enter high school every year.

4. People friendly community development

In 1980, the first-ever elevator in subway station was installed in Japan. In 1992, Osaka Community Renovation Act was enacted. Now all the subway stations in Osaka has elevator, all the city buses are low-floor. The Osaka act sets higher barrier-free standard than the national one, and the regional government is positive for its implementation.