National / Politics

Japanese lawmaker with cerebral palsy says her election win will help the socially vulnerable

Kyodo

A newly elected Upper House member who has severe physical disabilities has said that her presence as a lawmaker will help turn Japan into a country where the socially vulnerable can live comfortably.

Eiko Kimura, 54, of the political group Reiwa Shinsengumi, also voiced concern Friday over the current welfare service system for people with disabilities, as commuting and other economic activities are not covered through public aid.

“(For example) there’s no system allowing lawmakers with severe disabilities to be at the Diet while receiving (necessary) care,” said Kimura, who has cerebral palsy.

Kimura and Yasuhiko Funago, a lawmaker from the same political group who has amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, received their certificates of election through proportional representation.

“I’m just overwhelmed and speechless,” Funago, 61, said through his caretaker.

Since the disease robbed him of his voice, his caretaker read his message by following his eye movement across a chart.

Following their election, the Upper House decided to start renovation work in the Diet to provide barrier-free accessibility. It will also allow caregivers to enter the chamber to assist them.

Reiwa Shinsengumi was founded by actor-turned-lawmaker Taro Yamamoto to “challenge the establishment and status quo.”

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