Disabled people still face social obstacles in Japan despite government measures under a decade-long program that ended in fiscal 2002, according to a white paper released Tuesday.

More efforts will be made to achieve a barrier-free society in the next decade, the government report says.

It remains difficult for disabled people to act and work on their own in society, the annual report says. For example, the average employment rates for the disabled in fiscal 2002 in private and public corporations, as well as in prefectural boards of education, remained below those required by law.

Private corporations are required to have a workforce comprised at least 1.8 percent of disabled workers. As of June 2002, the average rate was 1.47 percent.

The required rate is 2.1 percent for public corporations, but their average rate was 1.96 percent. Local education boards are supposed to have 2 percent, but they only scored 1.23 percent.

The report, an overview of government policies for the mentally and physically disadvantaged in fiscal 2002, was presented to a Cabinet meeting Tuesday by the Cabinet Office.

It says the government completed revisions on 62 varieties of legal barriers that prevent people with disabilities from obtaining certain licenses and qualifications.

In December, the Cabinet decided on a new 10-year plan, which began in April, that aims for measures such as education policies to support students with learning disabilities, attention-deficit or hyperactivity disorders, and autism, and to promote employment of the disabled by utilizing information technology.

The new plan promotes the removal of barriers in communications, such as developing and procuring equipment for the disabled that is user-friendly. It hopes to introduce electronic voting systems to make it more convenient for disabled people to participate in elections, the white paper says.

The government has set concrete targets for the first five years of the new plan, including making all newly constructed public housing barrier-free. It aims to have more than half of the main thoroughfares around major train stations and other facilities made barrier-free by 2007.

By 2010, the government hopes to have all major transportation facilities, including train stations and bus terminals, eliminate differing surface levels, and to have them equipped with yellow tactile paving to aid those with impaired vision.

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