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Ruling parties agree to review law on disabled personsf eself-support assistancef


   The ruling Liberal Democratic and Komei parties on December 5 agreed on the basic direction for a review of the law to assist in disabled peoplefs self-support.


   Apparently aware of the growing criticism of the current law among disabled people and their families, the two parties pointed out the need to amend the current way of requiring the beneficiary to pay for services they use and reducing fees for low-income earners, but it stopped short of proposing abolition of the gbeneficiary-pays systemh.


   Thus, the ruling coalition parties have virtually admitted that the law, which was enacted in 2005 in defiance of strong public opposition, has proved to be a failure. .


   The plan calls for maintaining the current special measure to lower the upper limits of burden for tax-exempt households to be reduced to one fourth of the amount established by the law after it expires in March 2008. The ruling parties agreed on this special measure in December 2006.


   The plan also makes it clear that the plan is not based on the premise that measures for disabled persons should be integrated with the nursing care insurance system and that income security for disabled people will include an increase in basic disability benefits and the creation of a housing allowance.


   The gself-support assistance lawh came into force in April 2006. It soon encountered serious problems, including unbearably heavy burdens forced on disabled people and their family members forced to pay 10 percent of the cost of the welfare services they use.


   A Japanese Communist Party survey last September found that more than 60 percent of those surveyed said their monthly burden for services has increased 10,000 yen. More than 60 percent of work facilities for disabled people said that their income decreased 10-20 percent, forcing many to give up using welfare worksites for disabled people.


   It stands to reason that the movement opposing the self-support assistance law is rapidly growing. The coalition government must listen to disabled people and their families and abolish the gbeneficiary-pays systemh.
- Akahata, December 6, 2007


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