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JCP Kami demands removal of 'beneficiary-pays principle' from 'self-support assistance law'

At a House of Councilors Audit Committee meeting on December 4, Japanese Communist Party representative Kami Tomoko showed the serious adverse effects that the self-support law has brought about on disabled people since it took effect last April, and strongly demanded that the government retract without delay the beneficiary-pays system that requires disabled persons to pay 10 percent of the cost for the services they use.

"There is no time to lose," Kami stressed.

Kami took up a case of 25-year-old woman with severe mental retardation who goes to a facility that supports the mentally-retarded. Before last April, the facility was free of charge, but today she has to pay a monthly charge of 25,000 yen. Her income is only a disability pension of about 80,000 yen. Her mother said, "I wish she could support herself, but the new law makes it impossible. After my death, how will she be able to support herself?"

In a similar facility in Sapporo City in Hokkaido, users must pay up to 48,000 yen a month since April. The facility has had to stop its annual overnight stays in order to reduce parents' burdens.

Kami also referred to the fact that as a result of cuts in the assistance for home nursing visits to severely disabled persons, in many areas the helper dispatch service is no longer available.

Kami showed a survey conducted in Saitama City concerning the effect of the law, in which 80 percent of the respondents said that their expenses for the use of facilities increased.

Faced with severe criticism by disabled people and organizations representing them, the ruling Liberal Democratic and Komei parties have come to admit the need of a review of the law. However, these parties are still sticking to the beneficiary-pays system, the main cause of the problem.

Kami demanded that the government retract the beneficiary-pays system, stating, "Disabled persons need help to eat, to go to hospitals, and just to live. How can this help be regarded as a 'benefit'?"

Prime Minister Abe Shinzo, however, stated, "I wish the public to understand the government policy," adding that a ceiling is placed on the charge.

Pointing out that the government spending on measures for disabled people is too little, Kami called on the government to increase the welfare budget.
- Akahata, December 5, 2006

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