Tokyo cafe dishes out a lesson in hiring bias

OCT 1, 2017

At a cafe near the University of Tokyo, Deaf staffs are communicating with customers through writing and sign language --- and their work is being welcomed and appreciated by a steady stream of customers.

Masahiro Yanagi, the 44-year-old owner, who himself is Deaf, has managed the cafe in Tokyo since December 2011. 

The cafe now serves as an oasis for university students and regular customers.

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Tokyo Cafe Interacts with Customers Using Writing, Sign Language

Sept. 20, 2017

At the soup cafe, Sign with Me, near the University of Tokyo in Bunkyo Ward, the Deaf staff communicates with customers through writing and sign language. 

Over 100 messages left by customers on the whiteboard on the wall of the cafe.

The cafe serves as an oasis for university students and regular customers.

Masahiro Yanagi, the 44-year-old owner, who is Deaf, opened the cafe in December 2011.

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Japanese team wins 27 medals at Deaflympics, especially commended

August 30, 2017

The Japanese Para-Sports Association commended the Japanese team  especially and presented a supplementary prize of 5,000,000 yen in Tokyo on August 30.

The national team got 27 medals at the Turkey Deaflyimpics in July, the largest number ever in history; 6 gold, 9 silver and 12 bronze.

The supplementary prize will be assigned to a bonus to the players and sports groups who got medals.

Japanese source:

Glasses of subtitles Deaf person enjoy movie to be introduced in Osaka
August 25, 2017

In order for Deaf persons to enjoy Japanese movies, a national movie managers organization will introduce the glasses type equipment which shows subtitles on a screen for the first time at four movie theaters including Tokyo and Osaka in September. (photo)

Major movie distributors will also cooperates the move and increase the films which correspond to this system.

The free application "UDCast" which can show subtitles to an information terminal by a showing of a work and sync has been developed.

Japanese source:

Princess Mako attends National High School Sign Language Speech Contest in Tokyo
August 26, 2017

The 34th National High School Sign Language Speech Contest was opened in Tokyo on August 26.

Princess Mako, the eldest daughter of Prince and Princess Akishinonomiya, was present at the contest, giving a speech in sign language; "I hope that understanding to the sign language which is an important language deepens further". (photo)

She also spoke about the achievements the Japanese team accomplished at the Deaflympics held in Turkey in July; "The team showed me how wonderful it is to challenge the dream."

Ten high school students chosen from across Japan participated in the contest, and Hasegawa Kanna from Hokkaido was chosen as the best.

Hasegawa explained the reason for using cochlear implant was that her mother "wanted her to hear mother's voice".  She introduced that she knew it before the contest, and concluded her speech; "As a member of the Deaf world, I have made up my mind to try myself to contribute to the Deaf movement." 

Japanese sources:

Deaf father's dream realized by his son at National High School Baseball Championship in Koshien
August 20, 2017

"I will make my Deaf father happy with my best hitting."

Meiho High School baseball team in Oita Prefecture advanced to the National High School Baseball Championship quarterfinal on August 20, held at Koshien, Hyogo Prefecture.  

Matsutani Naoto, 18, from Meiho HS,
showed his best and final play to his Deaf father Akihiro, 46. 

He was unable to play baseball because of being Deaf as wished when he was young.

Meiho team was defeated, but Akihiro was glad and proud, saying, "My son was on the best stage," and praised him from a stand.

Japanese sources:

Deaf Japanese athletes strive to raise funds and awareness

The oldest international sporting event for people with disabilities is the Deaflympics, which was first held in Paris in 1924 and was managed by Deaf people.
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National interpreting workshops held at Fukuyama
August 18, 2017

The 50th National Interpreting Issues workshop was held in Fukuyama-shi, Hiroshima Prefecture on August 18, sponsored by Japanese Federation of the Deaf and National Interpreting Issues Study Group.

Deaf persons, interpreters and sign language students from across Japan will 
deepen their understanding about the situation of support to Deaf persons, peace and human rights through three days until August 20, attending lectures and subcommittee meetings.

About 1,100 people attended the opening ceremony. NIISG Chairperson and others spoke, such like "82% of interpreters across Japan are hired irregularly, a condition of the unstable employment. We will aim at improvement of the welfare of Deaf persons and the social status of an interpreter."

Japanese source:

Narita International Airport to repair restrooms for visitors
August 17, 2017

Narita International Airport company has begun to repair the all aging 147 restrooms for visitors in three passenger terminal buildings for Tokyo Olympics and Paralympics in 2020.

The restroom rooms were completed repairing on August 9 in the two arrival lobbies of the second passenger terminal building, equipped with a wide private room, and now available to use.

The company considers the barrier free environment, such as the light warning equipment to tell fire breaking to a Deaf person in all the restrooms, planning to finish repair by March, 2020 with the budget of 5,000,000,000 yen.

Japanese source:

On Mountain Day wetlands walk with sign language guide in Nagano held
August 12, 2017

An event related to "Shinshu Mountain Day" has started after Nagano Prefecture Sign Language Regulation's was carried out in March, 2016 as an opportunity.

This year, the event to walk on mountain in Shinshu through sign language guide was held on on August 11, sponsored by the Prefecture. It took place at Yashimagahara Shitsugen (mountain wetlands).

About 20 people from children to adults, regardless of hearing impairments, participated in the activity. They enjoyed a guided tour by interpreting as well expanded an exchange at the wetlands where flowers in summer shined by deep green. (photo)

Japanese source:

Life insurance company to start video relay service for emergency
August 17, 2017

Sompo Japan Insurance Inc., a major damage insurance company, will start a video relay service to respond to the Deaf customer on September 1. (photo)

The company, which has received through the internet, an e-mail and a fax, makes sure to correspond the emergency by which an accident has occurred more smoothly.

The "Plus Voice" that offers a video relay service in Sendai-shi will connect the insurance company and its Deaf customer.

When introducing a free communication app "LINE" into smart phone, it can be used easily.

Japanese source:

Deaf persons experience bouldering at Nara
August 16, 2017

The organization "Outdoor Sign Language Plan" that develops the business to promote Deaf persons' outdoor activities  held a Deaf bouldering event at Nara-shi, Nara Prefecture near Kyoto on August 14.

Five Deaf persons who love a sport participated in the event, having a pleasant good sweat with support of an interpreter and the guidance by a specialist. (photo)

Japanese source:

Sign language group in Toyama edits film on WWII Deaf experienced
August 15, 2017

The sign language club, "TOWA Group", in Toyama-shi, Toyama Prefecture collected the war experiences of Deaf persons related to Toyama Great Air Raid, Emperor's broadcasting to end the war, retreat from Manchuria and others into a film. (photo)

The film looks back to "the war the Deaf community experienced" and appeals the importance of peace powerfully.

The film is edited based on movies in the past, and there are a lot of Deaf performers who passed away, too. The club is considering DVD making as a visual record for posterity.

Japanese source:

Women in Iyo-shi make 100 white boards for communication by means of writing
August 13, 2017

The National Disabilities Sports Meet will be held in Iyo-shi, Ehime Prefecture on October 28-30, 2017.

As Deaf athletes will be expected in participate in the event, 22 local female volunteers got together at the City Health Welfare Center and made 100 small white boards for communication by means of writing on August 11. (photo)

One of the volunteers explained, "When even if you don't use sign language, you see a Deaf person who may have something trouble and help him/her with the writing board."

Japanese source:

Muko-shi Office in Kyoto to start employment test in barrier free environment

August 13, 2017

The Employment Promotion of Persons with Disabilities Act that prohibits discrimination against the persons with disabilities in all situations of employment has been revised.

Following the legal move, Muko-shi Office in Kyoto Prefecture will provide the written examination in braille and interpreting in the clerk employment examination for the persons with disabilities, which will take place first on October 22 and then in the middle of  November.

Japanese source

To order broiled cutlet on skewer in diner in Kyoto, write or sign
July 18, 2017

The diner called "Broiled Cutlet & Bar Maekawa's" was opened in Nakagyo-ku, Kyoto-shi recently. A Deaf person runs it with some deaf assistants.

To make an order, a guest writes a memo at "Maekawa's". Guests enjoy the Osaka taste that the Deaf owner had trained himself.

Maekawa Kenji, 47, runs the business. He manages by himself alone on weekdays, and his three Deaf friends in Kyoto including a former colleague from the previous work join as a part-time job in weekends. 

Contact in Japanese:

Japanese source:

Government to support memory keepers of a bombing experience

August 8, 2017

After 72 years passed since an atom bomb was dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki, more survivor of the atomic bombing are getting aged. 

The Ministry of Health, Labour and Welfare has decided to support the "memory keeper" who hands down an experience from generation to generation for a survivor of the atomic bombing.

There are 164,621 survivor of the atomic bombing currently as of the end of March, 2017 according to MHLW, It was almost cut by half in 22 years. The average age of the atomic bomb survivor exceeds 81 years old.

In order to promote understanding of the real fact of atomic bombing, domestic and abroad, MHLW will appropriate for the budget next year to cover the cost to train persons in English or sign language who will be dispatched overseas. This is the first time for the Government to put the budget on the memory keeper project

Japanese source:

Person with disabilities mistreated at workplace: Government annual report


An investigation of the Ministry of Health, Labour and Welfare reported that the  number of persons with disabilities abused by their employer and boss at a workplace reached 972 in fiscal year 2016.

A total result of the report is published based on the Person with Disabilities Prevention of Abuse Law. This year was the fifth time.

The number of the businesses which had mistreated employees with disabilities was 581. 13.4 percent of the employees with disabilities was less than 4 percent compared with the previous year (1,123 people). It was highest number, 530 persons with intellectual disabilities for a breakdown.

One of mistreatment of persons with disabilities was the case of the Deaf worker.  In front of his face his boss showed the paper saying "Leave the company." 

Japanese source:

"Dialogue in Sign Language" held in Tokyo

August 7, 2017

The "Dialogue in Sign Language", by which a participant undergoes vicarious experience of the world without sound and words and enjoys communication, is held at Shibuya-ku, Tokyo until August 20. In Japan, it is the first holding.

Participants use the headset from which sound is insulated. They are led by a Deaf guide and carry on a dialogue only through facial expression and body language.

Seven rooms are in a meeting place, such as "Hand Dance", "Facial Gallery," "Shapes and Hands" (photo) and others, which a participant experience differently. 

This kind of event started in Germany in 1998, and more than 1,000,000 people in six countries experienced it.

Japanese source:

Wakayama-shi starts telephone service through Skype

August 5, 2017

Wakayama-shi Office in Wakayama Prefecture has begun sign language telephone service using video call software of the internet "Skype" on August 1 so that a Deaf person can call. It is a part of services related to the Sign Language Regulation which was carried out in April, 2016.

A Deaf person had to go to the city office to call when there was no one who knows sign language nearby, and an interpreter helped him communicate through a telephone. There were 170 cases last year.

A Deaf person can save the time when he goes to the city office now, and can also call from any other place.

Japanese source:

Turkey: Deaflympics ends, Japan picks 27 medals
July 31, 2917

Deaflympics held in Samusun, Turkey, with more than 3,000 athletes from 97 countries and areas since July 18 ended on July 30, and the closing ceremony was performed. (photo)

Japan national team competed in 11 sport items and won 27 medals (six gold medal, 9 silver medals and 12 bronze medals). They collected more medals than the last Deaflympics in Bulgaria four years ago which was 21 medals.

Deaflympics is less known in Japan compared with Olympics and Paralympics. Japanese Federation of the Deaf as national desk has put the effort into national enlightenment activity as well as improvement of competitive ability in the Deaf athletes.

The next Deaflympic Summer Games is planning to be held in 2121, although the site isn't decided yet.

Japanese Sources:

Deaf guide service at Tomioka Spinning Factory to start in August

July 26, 2017

Tomioka-shi, Gunma Prefecture near Tokyo announced that it would begin to introduce a "Deaf guide" for a tour of the world-class cultural property "Tomioka Spinning Factory" on August 1.

The city began the project which dispatches interpreters to usual explanation, and dispatched 29 interpreters last year. However, it took time, and Deaf visitors pointed out that it would be better if a Deaf person acts as a guide who has the same viewpoint as them.

After the city trained Deaf persons as a guide, it became possible for them to act as a guide.

Japanese source:

Kakogawa-shi begins to promote barrier free environment


Kakogawa-shi, Hyogo Prefecture next to Osaka has begun to support a private enterprise to make its store or business barrier free for a person with disabilities. 

Meal menu with a braille, the folding slope over a ramp for a wheelchair user, interpreters dispatch to an event, and others are covered by the city between the full amount and the half price of the cost.

"The Person with Disabilities Discrimination Dissolution Law" has been enforced since April, 2016. Such as refusing servicing for reason of the disability, discriminatory treatment is forbidden.

Japanese source:

Deaf society donates sign language DVD for fire rescue crew


Toyokawa-shi Deaf Welfare Society in Aichi Prefecture donated the sign language DVD to Toyokawa-shi fire fighting head office on July 21 

In order that the emergency and rescue crew in each fire department can sign at a site, the head office will distribute the DVD to five fire departments.

The society hold a lecture meeting on the proper use of an ambulance for the rescue staff in September, 2016, participated by three rescue members for the first time. It was found that they respond to a Deaf patient by means of writing.

Japanese source:

Volunteers support Deaf persons who suffered from disaster in Fukuoka

July 15, 2017

Asakura City, Fukuoka Prefecture located in Japan's southern island, suffered large damage by a record torrential downpour.

About 20 members of "Fukuoka Prefecture Association Sign Language Group" visited two houses of Deaf persons, and worked to  removed sand which flowed in the houses. 

The house in which Fujise Hideo, 82, lives was full of earth and sand on the floor. One of the volunteers was extracting mud using a shovel after he learned the situation and damage of the those days from Fujise and his family by sign language.

Fujise said, "I am really relieved to have someone who can communicate when I need help. It's the serious situation, but, I'd like to exert myself."

One of the volunteers explained, "Deaf people often have trouble in the time of an accident, so I ran to help them."

Japanese source:

Shikoku area organization publishes book on dialect in sign language

Sign Language for "MORNING"
expressed by four prefectures
July 11, 2017

Shikoku Federation of the Deaf (secretariat in Kagawa Prefecture) and others published the book (B5 size; 76 pages, DVD) which introduces "dialect" of the sign language daily used in the Shikoku area which locates four prefectures after about two years of collection. 

The sign language which developed respectively in every region across Japan is different in the meaning and an expression, and a communication problem will be expected in case of emergency such as disaster.

Shikoku Federation hopes to succeed to sign language used in each region as well as prepare for Nankai-trough disastrous earthquake to prevent confusion in interpreting. 

Japanese Federation of the Deaf located in Tokyo says there are about 350,000 Deaf/deaf persons in the whole country, and about 70,000 out of them daily use sign language. The federation has worked on "standard sign language" by Japan Sign Language Research Center in Kyoto-shi since 1969.

Japanese source:

Deaf persons in Kawasaki-shi participates in rescue practice using emergency e-mail system
July 8, 2017

On July 7, the members, both Deaf and hearing, of a sign language club who come into action in Takatsu-ku, Kawasaki-shi, Kanagawa Prefecture next to Tokyo practiced flood disaster rescue with officers of Takatsu Police Station and Takatsu Fire Department.

Practice took place near Futago-bashi Bridge by the assumption for which a member found the person drowning at Tama-gawa River.

The members learned how to use the emergency e-mail 110 system of the Prefecture Police. (photo)

Practical use has started with the emergency e-mail 110 system since 2003 according to Takatsu Police Station. Actual use in the prefecture was 259 cases last year, while this year 104 cases by the end of May.

The officers of the Police Station explained an aim of the practice; "There are Deaf or hard of hearing people who don't know how to report yet using the emergency e-mail system. We'd like to tell them about the emergency system already existed as well as how to use it." 

Japanese source:

List of Sexual Minority Support Groups

The group which supports a sexual minority with hearing loss has begun to start in recent years. 

They dispatch an interpreter to an event and a meeting, and an advisor/counselor to meet with the sexual minority and the family.

Support group list:

The Deaf LGBT Northeast 
(Sendai-shi, Miyagi Prefecture)

Tokyo Deaf LGBT Bond 
(Mitaka-shi, Tokyo)


Deaf Rainbow
(Himeji-shi, Hyogo Prefecture)

Deaf man in Osaka active to promote awareness on LGBT
July 7, 2017

Kokubun Yutaka, 45, a Deaf resident in Moriguchi-shi, Osaka Prefecture, is an HIV patient and a homosexual. (photo) He has been active to enhance awareness in the Deaf community about LGBT, the various nature, too.

Kokubun, born to a Deaf family in Fukushima Prefecture, was brought up by his grandmother at her home since he was an elementary pupil. She believed oral method would help her grandson develop his speech ability. 

During his high school days, Kokubun felt a kind of love for a male leader in club activities, but it was when he was 26 years old he realized he was a homosexual himself.

Kokubun learned about the Tokyo Rainbow Festival which male homosexuals gathered in Tokyo, in which he participated. Then he felt:"That is what I am, too!" And, excitement didn't cool for him. He soon made a friend and a lover who were Deaf.

At 30 years old, Kokubun learned that he was infected by HIV as the result of a check in a health center. He once thought of killing himself at a moment, but continued to received the treatment.  Two years later, he met the man aged 46. They have lived together.

Kokubun moved to Osaka taking the opportunity that the man was relocated in 2015. While holding a sign language class, Kokubun tells the Deaf that there is various nature, LGBT.

Japanese source:

Discriminatory attitudes toward Deaf in daily life, feeling of alienation without visible information

June 15, 2017

About 4,200 people, both Deaf persons and their supporters, participated in the National Deaf Conference of Japanese Federation of the Deaf which was held in Fukuoka-shi located in Japan's southern island at the beginning of June.

Cases of the discriminatory attitude toward the Deaf persons who feel anxiety and alienated in daily experienced were reported in the subcommittee meeting under a theme "Human Rights".

 "A request of the Deaf person who communicates by means of writing is ignored, and only oral communication goes on."

"An interpreter and a note taker are not provided for a classroom or a meeting of a workplace."

"A broadcast is only called by voice/sound on a bus or a train."

"The Deaf person waiting for the turn at a hospital is called only by voice announcement," etc.

The questionnaire which was conducted by JFD from September, 2014 to March, 2016 with 811 Deaf respondents. 87% of them experienced discriminatory attitudes. 

Those who asked for the "reasonable accommodations in relation to "the Persons with Disabilities Discrimination Banishment Law effective in in April, 2016 specifically went up to 62%, pointing out as follows:

(1) interpreting arrangement at school and a workplace

(2) dissemination of the accident information, etc. of the public transportation should be captioned

(3) staff service improvement in a medical agency and public facilities.

There are 3,516 interpreters certified by the government authority at present. The government had put up a target of the interpreters who work for official facilities with 4,000 people (one interpreter for 100 Deaf consumers) when the certificate test started 28 years ago. However, autonomous bodies, educational institutions and public hospitals hired 1,801 interpreters (including certified one) according to an investigation conducted in 2015 by the national interpreters group in Kyoto, less than half of the target of interpreters; 53.7%.

Japanese source:

Tokyo Governor welcomes national team for Deaflympics by sign language

July 5, 2017

Tokyo Governor Koike Yuriko received expression of courtesy from the Tokyo team selected for the Summer Deaflympics in Turk, (July 18-30) in the Tokyo Metropolitan Government Office on July 5.

Koike welcomed the team in sign language, and through interpreting she continued to say that she would like to make the environment with a diversity which persons with disabilities could play easily.

About 4,500 athletes from 109 countries and areas will participate in the upcoming Deaflympics including the Japanese team with 108 athletes (74 men and 34 women). Out of the 21 sport items, Japan will complete in 11 items; badminton, beach volleyball, bicycle, soccer, karate,  mountain bike, swimming, table tennis, tennis and volleyball.

Japanese source:

Life insurance company staff in Matsuyama receive lecture to deepen understanding to disabilities
July 4, 2017

The National Disabilities Sports event will be held in Ehime Prefecture in October.

A delivering lecture took place at a hotel in Matsuyama-shi in the prefecture on July 3 for the purpose of having the volunteers who support a meet deepen the understanding about disabilities beforehand.

About 45 staff of the Dido Life Insurance Matsuyama Sales Division attended the lecture. They learned the purpose of the meet and the outline of sports, as well as experienced sign language. (photo)

Japanese source:

Deaf city council member asks for more barrier free environment
July 3, 2017

 "The ways of communication for those who are hearing loss varies, such as a hearing aid, sign language, writing and others. I ask you to arrange right support  system according to the needs of the person with hearing loss."

Sato Makoto, 37, (photo) a deaf city council member stood for a general question and appealed to the mayor and fellow members at the general assembly meeting of Toda-shi, Saitama Prefecture on June 9.

An answer from the administration is made through the voice recognition system that voice is changed to the caption, and interpreting as well.
Sato lost hearing when he was very sick at the age of two. He put on a hearing aid and was trained by an oral method since then. He learned sign language after he became an office worker after finishing high school.

His experience with the USA two years ago when he visited was so a big opportunity that he determined to become a politician.

Sato ran as an independent candidate for Toda-shi council election in January, 2017.  He appealed to make Toda-shi a barrier-free society, and won his first election.

Sato is the fourth Deaf local councilor in the whole country, and the first one in Saitama Prefecture next to Tokyo.

Japanese source:

No application for Tottori Prefecture's sign language course for next year

June 29, 2017

Tottori Prefecture Office has established a sign language course related to a social welfare (the university degree level) for the new employers in spring, 2018, which it was found out on June 28 that no one has made any application.

The Prefecture Office aimed to station  interpreters in the department that carries out a social welfare policy in order to plan substantially related to a person with disabilities. 

However, the Office seems to be pressed to reconsider an application and so on. 

Japanese source:

Send-off party held for Japanese team before Deaflympics

June 28, 2017

Prince and Princess Akishinonomiya, and their eldest daughter Princess Mako met with the national team who will represent Japan at the 23rd Summer Deaflympics,  at the Akasaka East House near Akishinonomiya's residence in Tokyo on June 28. Princess Mako and her mother Prince Kiko encouraged the team, saying "Do your best" in sign language.

Another send-off party for the Japanese team was held at the House of Councilors Hall in Chiyoda-ku, Tokyo. It was for the first time to hold such an event for the national team representing at Deaflympics.

The party were attended by the Olympic and Paralympics Minister and the Sport Agency Chief. Both encouraged the team and hoped for their doing best. The Turkish ambassador to Japan told a greeting, too.

At the Deaflympics scheduled for July 18-30 in Samsun, Turkey, 108 athletes in total  will compete in 11 sport items including truck and fields, badminton and others.  

Japanese sources:

All graders in Shintoku-cho learn sign language following curriculum

Shintoku-cho in Hokkaido, Japan's northern island, has established a sign language regulation in 2014 for the first time and as the third town/village by the whole country autonomous body.

The sign language class has started targeted for all the grades of three elementary schools in the town this year. 

Children from the first grade through sixth grade learn sign language by a consistent system until graduation based on a step-by-step curriculum. Hokkaido Prefecture School Board says the case of the town is the first attempt.

The town dispatches an interpreter as a lecturer. The each grader has total of 30 frames until graduation: five frames a year for each grade (one frame for 45 minutes). (photo)

Japanese source: