National

Majority of small-to-midsize Japanese firms are failing to meet disabled employment quotas

Kyodo

About 60 percent of small and midsize companies in Japan that responded to a survey do not satisfy their quotas for mandatory employment of people with disabilities, according to the poll.

Only 35 percent showed willingness to hire people with mental or physical disabilities either “positively” or “to abide by the law,” the survey conducted by staffing firm En-japan inc. showed.

The figures indicate Japan falls short in trying to achieve a more inclusive society, though the survey response rate was only about 0.5 percent.

Tokyo-based En-japan sent out questionnaires to about 85,000 companies between August and September. Of these, 408 companies with more than 50 employees responded.

Japanese law requires private-sector firms to meet a quota of 2.2 percent for employees with disabilities, which was raised from 2 percent in April.

Central and local governments met strong criticism after they were found to have manipulated their own data — counting retired or even dead people — to meet the legal quotas, which are set at 2.5 percent for the public sector.

If a company with more than 100 employees fails to meet its quota, it will be fined or in some cases its name disclosed. This rule is not applied to government bodies.

Of the survey respondents, 39 percent cleared the 2.2 percent quota, while 29 percent hired no disabled persons at all.

“Smaller firms generally have few job opportunities suitable for disabled people,” an official of En-japan said.

“These companies are also struggling to win the understanding of other employees about working with disabled employees,” the official said.

One firm that hires disabled people responded to the questionnaire by saying that “they work very hard and are valuable resources for us,” according to the survey.

But others voiced criticism toward the government’s stance in hiring people with disabilities.

“Private companies would be punished with fines if we don’t reach quota, but what are they going to do when (government agencies) are breaking the rule themselves?” one company said in response to the questionnaire.

Another company said the required quota for private firms should vary among industries, as difficulties in hiring people with disabilities differ from one sector to another.