Human Rights Violations of Persons with Disabilities in Fukushima after the Great East Japan Earthquake, Tsunami, and Nuclear Power Plant Accident



This workshop will outline the human rights violations of persons with disabilities in Fukushima after the Great East Japan Earthquake, tsunami and nuclear power plant accident. We will discuss the incident (s) and link them to human rights violations as well as engage participants in a discussion of the articles of the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD). The violations have been downplayed and not widely known. The discussants want the international community to know the facts so as to start an ethical discussion on local, national and international levels.

About the Presenters

Photo: Masayo Furui

Masayo Furui (Society for Health and Life of People with Cerebral Palsy)—Masayo formed and became the executive officer for the Osaka Office of the Association for People with Cerebral Palsy Green Grass in 1973. In 1974, she formed and became chair for the West Japan Federation of the Association for People with Cerebral Palsy Green Grass. She was the leader of the All-Japan Preparation Caravan for the formation of the Nation Liaison Committee for the Liberation of People with Disabilities in 1975. In 1976, she was elected as the executive officer for the National Federation of the Association for People with Cerebral Palsy Green Grass. She founded Society for health and life of people with cerebral palsy in 2002, and has been the president of the people’s organization. Since 311, she has been invited every other month from the Fukushima Disaster Support Center for People with Disabilities to work with Mr. Shiraishi.


Photo: Kiyoharu Shiraishi


Kiyoharu Shiraishi is a representative with the Fukushima Disaster Support Center for People with Disabilities. He is also the Chief Director of IL Independent Living Center, Fukushima. He established two CILs in Fukushima in 1994. He also founded a sheltered workshop “Kuebiko” in Kanagawa in 1981. He had been the Head of Fukushima Office of Association for People with Cerebral Palsy Green Grass.


Photo: Toru Furui


Toru Furui (Osaka Kawasaki Rehabilitation University)—Toru Furui,PT, PhD obtained his doctorate degree from Kobe University Graduate School of Medicine in 2004. From 2004 to 2006, he served as Visiting Faculty at University of Pittsburgh, Human Engineering Research Laboratories. He received 2005 Best Post-doctoral Research Paper Award, from Department of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation at University of Pittsburgh (2005). He has been a professor of Department of Physical Therapy at Osaka Kawasaki Rehabilitation University since 2007. He has been serving as a member of executive committee at Rehabilitation Engineering Society of Japan since 2010. He also served as the Chair of the 26th Japanese Conference on Advancement of Assistive and Rehabilitation Technology which held in August 2011 at Osaka City Central Public Hall. He hosted the 4th Seminar of Seated Posture Measurement at Osaka Kawasaki Rehabilitation University on 21st January 2012.


Photo: Chihoko Aoki


Chihoko Aoki is currently the Fellow at Research Center for Ars Vivendi, Ritsumeikan University. She obtained her PhD at Graduate School of Human Sciences, Osaka University (2009). She worked as a Coordinator at Disability Resource Center, Osaka University (2009-2008). She also had the part time teacher positions at Nutrition College of Osaka Municipal Institute of Environmental Sciences, Kyoto Koka Women’s University, Kyoto Prefectural University (2008-2003).



From the newsletter Fukushima Disaster Support Center for People with Disabilities

More than 27,000 lives have been lost or disappeared due to massive tsunami derived from the earthquake washed out all coast areas of Iwate, Miyagi and Fukushima. Besides, the tsumani accompanied with accidents at Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant. Here in Fukushima, not only people but also crops, farm animals and nature are contaminated by the radio active. It will take more time to start toward recovery as no one can predict when the accidents of nuclear plant are concluded.

We, Support Center Fukushima, have visited most of the shelters to confirm safety, offer counsel and explore needs for persons with disabilities with the help of a lot of volunteers. Then, entire pictures of hard lives of persons with disabilities at shelters have stood out. Some kept sitting in wheelchairs for two weeks because floors of shelters were too hard to lie down; some did not take a bath for one month; some slept in their cars at parking areas; some moved a shelter to a shelter because of difficulty of group living with autism disorder; even some persons with psychiatric disabilities were frightened as if the world ends soon. All of them lived their hard lives at the shelters. We have looked around nearly two hundred shelters, however, the number of persons with disabilities were about one hundred, which was smaller than thought. Especially, we rarely saw severely disabled persons there. This might be because, we suppose, they were either going to houses of their acquaintances or relatives or bearing with inconvenience at their homes.

At a community workshop in Minami-Souma City, the workshop takes in 20 users because both of them and their families were impatient of living at shelters and came back while staffs almost gave up hope to keep opening the workshop as users had evacuated due to fear of tsunami and nuclear accidents. Although several staffs quit jobs due to nuclear accidents unfortunately, Support Center Fukushima is assisting the community workshop in Minami-Souma City to send relief supplies and volunteers in response to appeals from a head director and staffs of the workshop. Besides, we have started to call on persons with disabilities dotting in Minami-Souma City to confirm their safety and intentions in terms of evacuation in advance. This is because the local government asked the head director of the community workshop, mentioned earlier, for help so that we sent our volunteers to assist their activities.

From now on, we are going to establish a shelter-salon that takes in persons with disabilities from various devastated sites including Minami-Souma, Kawamata, Kawauchi and Katsurao. Also, we have a plan to build two barrier-free temporary housing in Aizuwakamatsu if possible because radiation level is rather high in Koriyama. Moreover, we are trying to prepare shelters across Japan working together with various organizations for the disabled persons.

We are still on our way to sort out a mass of data because of no good provision for members of the secretariat and volunteers. However, we have just begun to organize information on list of graduates at Koriyama special support school. Then we will call on each graduate who lives in Hamadori (Coast side) and Nakadori (Central) as soon as we finish organizing the data and verifying together with board members of alumni of the school.

May I emphasize again that both government and private organizations run about in confusion due to nuclear accidents in Fukushima. We are also worrying ourself if we are better off staying here. Some advise that youth and children had better leave though radiation have less impact on me because of my age. We might say that youth are better off leaving Koriyama further away if it takes quite long time until nuclear plants stop releasing radiation. This is a situation surrounding Fukushima, however, we will do our best to continue our activities with full of smiles until we accomplish our recovery.

Most sincerely,
Kiyoharu Shiraishi