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HOME  > Past issues  > 2016 July 27 - August 2  > Discrimination against the disabled must be overcome
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2016 July 27 - August 2 [SOCIAL ISSUES]

Discrimination against the disabled must be overcome

July 29, 2016
Akahata editorial

More and more people are feeling outrage and anger with the recent incident in which an ex-worker at a facility for the mentally disabled in Kanagawa’s Sagamihara City (called “Tsukui Yamayuri En”) stabbed 19 people to death and injured 26 others.

Along with the brutality of the worst mass murder in Japan’s postwar period, it is extremely shocking that the perpetrator had repeatedly said that “it is best to get rid of mentally disabled people”. It is absolutely impossible to tolerate such a thought as denying the existence, dignity, and value of lives of the mentally disabled.

Heinous crime caused by hatred

Following the tragic incident, many people, including victims’ relatives and persons with various disabilities, are visiting the scene of the mass murder and offering flowers in remembrance. One of the visitors said, “My heart is almost breaking with sorrow.” The seriousness of this case is also shown by the fact that a wide range of groups of disabled and their families and people concerned have issued statements calling for valuing everyone’s life.

The 26-year-old murder suspect who had worked at the facility until February this year has allegedly displayed an attitude of explicitly denying the value of the lives and human rights of the disabled, claiming that “it would be better to euthanize all disabled people.” In the middle of February, he visited the official residence of the Speaker of the House of Representatives on two occasions to hand over a note warning of his inclination to slaughter the disabled.

The letter states, “The elimination of disabled people will contribute to the development of Japan and the rest of the world. The existence of the disabled is a source of unhappiness in society.” It is full of hatred, hostility, prejudice, and discrimination against people with disabilities. The statement denies the notion of human rights which guarantees all people individual rights and dignity.

It is clear that to create a society in which all individuals with or without disabilities respect differences in personality and diversity of life, and help each other based on mutual understanding is the foundation of a modern society. No one should be eliminated from this world. An argument which justifies the “liquidation” of people with disabilities on the discriminatory grounds that they are “useless” has much in common with that in Nazi Germany which systematically exterminated a large number of disabled persons based on eugenics which regards the disabled as “unnecessary”. Such an argument is totally unacceptable.

The perpetrator of the recent mass murder resigned from the facility after receiving criticism for having prejudice against the disabled. Why and how did the former caregiver get this hatred and end up in committing the murders? In addition to this question, it is also necessary to look into what the administrative authorities could have done to prevent the crime. In response to the tragic event, many people making use of welfare services are concerned with the possibility that the incident stemmed from the social trend that people are more likely to discriminate against and marginalize the socially disadvantaged and minorities including the disabled. The continuous occurrence of hate speech demonstrations, which employ racist language, may be a good example of this trend. It is essential for the general public to reach a national consensus to work to overcome this dangerous trend.

Let’s work harder to create society of coexistence

There exists propaganda which is used to shift the blame of economic disparity and poverty to individuals’ responsibility and lack of their efforts; have the general public recognize the spending of taxpayer money on social welfare as “state liability”; and divide the younger and the older to bring them into further conflict. This appears to provide a hotbed for the wrongful social trends. All forms of discrimination, hostility, and prejudice should be banned, which is an important step to create a society where all members, with or without disabilities, receive due respect.
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