In August, it was reported that central government ministries and agencies, not to mention national legislative offices and local governments, have for years been fulfilling their legal responsibility to hire certain numbers of people with disabilities by fudging criteria for determining what qualifies as a disability. The media’s position on the matter has mainly been to point out that the public sector is getting away with murder while the private sector struggles in an honest fashion to reach similar quotas. The government is supposed to set an example for companies when it comes to social change, so its intentional neglect in doing so is doubly appalling.

Coverage has focused on how government malfeasance is business as usual, thus dovetailing with the scandal surrounding Tokyo Medical University’s manipulation of test scores to limit the number of female applicants admitted to the school. These organizations did bad things in order to protect entrenched work cultures, but by presenting the issue within that framework, the media has failed to enlighten the public as to why it is beneficial to hire people with disabilities in the first place. All we hear about is how the system is “unfair.” In the case of the university, however, it is women who are treated badly, while in the case of employment padding, it’s the private sector that’s injured, not people with disabilities. Firms that fail to hire enough people with disabilities are fined up to ¥50,000 a year for each position they neglect to fill, while there are no penalties inflicted on public sector organizations that fall short of their quotas.

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