Companies in Japan obliged to accommodate disabled from April 2024

Japan will legally oblige companies to provide necessary services and infrastructure to assist people with disabilities from April 2024 by ensuring they set up measures such as sloped access points for wheelchairs, the government said Tuesday.

The decision taken by the Cabinet comes on top of central and local governments already being obligated to provide for and "reasonably accommodate" people with disabilities after the law, designed to prevent discrimination against them, was enacted in 2013.

The revision to the law last year broadened its scope to private companies, which are currently advised to provide for and accommodate disabled people.

The Cabinet also revised its basic policy on specific measures companies are obliged to enact, meaning they will only be required to take measures within the scope of their normal operations, so as not to place an excessive burden on private firms.

Among examples cited by the government, an operator will not be allowed to refuse a request from an individual with writing difficulties if they wish to take a written exam using a digital device on the basis that there is no precedent of doing so at the organization.

Another example would be cases in which operators providing online classes are asked by someone with a disability to give personal lessons, but they deny their request due to insufficient staff or infrastructure. In such scenarios, the operator will not be deemed to have violated the law.

The policy also includes measures for central and municipal governments to promote the setting up of consultation services for private operators unsure about how to accommodate people with disabilities, as well as for disabled people who feel they have been discriminated against.

Companies failing to reasonably accommodate disabled people will face penalties if there are multiple reports of bad conduct and they have ignored instructions to improve.

© Kyodo News