Deaf Japanese History: 2006-2009

- The UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities adopted in the United Nations General Assembly in December.

- On April 1, two new nursing homes for the Deaf aged persons open in Saitama and Hyogo Prefectures as a result of fund-raising efforts by the Deaf communities. Both facilities provide private bedrooms to all residents, divided into blocks for living together in small group units.

- On April 7, 2006, the National University Corporation, Tsukuba University of Technology holds its Enrollment (Matriculation) Ceremony at the Tsukuba International Conference Center. The Faculty of Industrial Technology, where the Deaf students study, is divided into 2 departments: the Department of Industrial Information (with 35 freshmen this year) and the Department of Synthetic Design (with 15 new students).

- 54th JFD national conference held in Shziuoka Prefecture in June.

- Second Japan-Taiwan Friendship Baseball Game held in Japan.


- 16th Winter Deaflympics held in Salt Lake City, Utah, U.S.A. February 1 - 10, 2007, hosted by the International Committee of Sports for the Deaf (ICSD). A total of 314 athletes from 24 countries competed in Alpine Skiing, Snowboarding, Cross Country Skiing, Ice Hockey, and Curling. Japan sends delegation of 39 athletes, coaches and staff, etc. 17 Japanese athletes competed in 11 different categories of 3 competitions: Alpine Skiing, Snowboarding, and Cross Country Skiing.

- Showa University Hospital, located in Shinagawa, Tokyo, starts the "Out-patient Clinic for the Deaf" on March 3, 2007. This initiative is the first of its kind undertaken by a university hospital.

- Yo Hosokawa (28) is first deaf teacher hired to teach in the elementary department of the Kawasaki City School for the Deaf located in Nakahara Ward starting in April.

- The Tsukuba University of Technology (NTUT), the first higher education institution for blind and deaf students respectively in the world, holds first Enrollment Ceremony to welcome new students since its restart as a four-year university.

- 55th JFD national conference held in Kagawa Prefecture in June.

- NHK (Japan Broadcasting Corporation) starts to broadcast emergency broadcasting right after the Chuetsu earthquake but there is neither captioning nor interpreting on these broadcasts, nor is there any news in sign language. The Japanese Federation of the Deaf (JFD) concerned that the request they had sent to NHK after the Noto Peninsula earthquake on March 25, 2007 had been neglected and commented that Deaf persons had been watching TV screens just to increase their anxiety.

- JFD requests again on July 18, 2007 to NHK, stating that, as a public broadcasting station, NHK should provide interpreting and captioning on emergency broadcasting. JFD also sends letter of request to the local TV station in Niigata to ensure information access for the Deaf. Also JFD sends letters of request to Cabinet Office, Ministry of Labour, Health and Welfare and Ministry of Internal Affairs and Communications to encourage NHK and other private TV stations to ensure information access of Deaf persons at the event of emergency.

- On July 19, 2007, the Ministry of Labour, Health and Welfare contacts the local government of the affected area to demand consideration for information and communication support for the Deaf residents. The authority of Niigata prefecture instructs each municipality to ensure information access and distributed 1500 flayers stating "Contact us if you need help including interpreting" at the shelter in Kashiwazaki City on July 18,2007. It also dispatches a few interpreters in the afternoon of July 20 and several interpreters to the evacuation center from July 21, 2007.

- "The Deaf Cafe," where deaf persons and signers enjoy communications in Japanese Sign Language (JSL), set up in Kobe City in August, managed by a group called "Hyogo Deaf Net."

- Tomihiko Shionoya and Okubo Yasuyuki, both deaf men, successfully reach the North Pole in August for the first time.

- Okubo Yasuyuki(36) reaches the South Pole on January 9th, and becomes the youngest deaf man in the world who successfully reached the both poles, the North Pole and South Pole. He is a company employee in the Kanazawa city, Ishikawa Prefecture.

- The bill which revises a part of School Education Law, etc" is approved in June, 2006, and effective in April, 2007. This law defines the special support education to provide all children with disabilities including deaf children.

- Foreign Affairs Minister, representing the Japanese Government, signs the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities in the headquarters of UN in New York in September.

- A deaf mountain climber, Satoshi Tamura, reaches the top of the 200th reputed mountain, called 乾徳山, in Yamanashi Prefecture in November.

- Okubo Yasuyuki(37) reaches the tops of Mt. Kenya (altitude 5,199 meters) right under equators on December 25, 2007, and Mt. Kilimanjaro (altitude 5,895 meters), the highest peak in the African Continent, on January 1, 2008.

- Kumiko Takezawa, a 25-year-old deaf woman from Otsu, passes the medical doctor's license examination in March. She was the first deaf person since the Medical Practitioners Law was revised in 2001 to allow the deaf and visually impaired persons to take the test.

- Meisei Gakuen, a private school for the deaf, opens in April, 2008. It is formerly known "The Dragon's Kids School," operated by The Bilingual Bicultural Education Center for the Deaf, an incorporated nonprofit organization (NPO). Granted by Tokyo Metropolitan Government as an educational Toc district. 41 students in total; 16 children in the kindergarten and 25 children in elementary school. Nine teachers are hired. All the children and teachers are fluent in Japanese Sign Language. A junior high school department is scheduled for 2010.

- Kansei Gakuin University in Nishinomiya City, Hyogo Prefecture offers sign language as a second language to the hearing students majoring in human welfare, as well as English, German, and French, etc. in April. It is the first university to offer the two-year course as required for the credits towards to graduation. Ninety students are accepted for the sign language course.

- The Police Department announces a new mark for deaf drivers in May, 2008 prior to the enforcement of the revised Road Traffic Law scheduled for June 1. The mark arranges with a yellow butterfly in the green tract of land framed in white in the circle of 12.2 cm in the diameter. The reflection material is used so that it be easily identified at night. The revised law does not require a deaf applicant to take an audiological test to get the driving license. However, while driving, the deaf driver is required to display this mark on the front end and the back of a car and to attach the wide mirror as well. When failing these, the penalty of 20,000 yen or less will be fined.

- The fire alarm device (smoke detectors) installation in the existing housing in addition to the new housing is required according to the revision of the Fire Protection Law effective on June 1st. The devices must be put in the bedrooms, the stairs, and the kitchen. Some cities provide persons with disabilities and the senior with the "Daily Living Tools Supplies Project" to assist the purchase expense of the daily living tools needed. In the end of May the flash alarm device for fire warning for persons with disabilities in addition to a general fire warning devices can be obtained with the project.

- The court system to involve citizens as jury is to start in May, 2009. The Supreme Court makes it clear how to provide persons with disabilities with accommodations in May. The document of the procedure to select jurors is translated into braille and sent to the person with visual disability. Sign language interpreting and/or note-taking will be offered for the deaf and hard of hearing persons during legal meetings and discussions.

- 56th JFD national conference held in Fukui Prefecture in June.

- Kousui Yamada (26), wins the judo 100 K class at the World Deaf Martial Arts Championships held in in Toulouse City, France on May 24-25th. Employed by a police department in Akita prefecture since 2005. It is the first victory for a Japanese individual ever since 29 years ago when the first championships held. The championships held once every almost two years from 1979. 100 persons from 17 countries join the competitions in the judo, the Karate, and taekwondo. Yamada, who holds the fourth judo class, wins a complete victory by the round competition with five players of the the 100 K class. He also wins the third place through the open category competed by the winner of each class. Yamada, who loses hearing from high fever when he was an infant, starts judo as a third grader.

- New facility opens in Yokohama City to train abandoned dogs as hearing dogs for the Deaf. The center, Ansunaro Gakko, run by the Guide Dog and Service Dog Association of Japan. There are only 18 hearing dogs nationwide as of March.

- Satoru Fukushima (45), Deaf-blind and associate professor of Tokyo University Science and Technology Research Center, receives the doctor's degree in science during the commencement on June 11th. His dissertation is on the process to which the conversation with the person revived after losing sight and hearing is analyzed. Fukushima says with a smile, "In conclusion my life was experimented." His acquisition of the doctor's degree as a Deaf-blind person is probably the first in Japan, and unusual worldwide.

- Michinori Nakahashi (47) of Toyama City, who becomes deaf at the age of two from a severe illness, has reached the 20th year working on the serial of four-frame comic strip for a monthly national newspaper for the deaf, titled "Japanese Deaf News" published in Kyoto City. The 228th comic appears in the June edition. He draws a comic with a sense of humor on current topics and concerns related to the Deaf Community. He graduates from a school for the deaf and is the first deaf city officer for the maintenance and repairs section.

- The Supreme Court publishes a guideline on how to provide accommodations to persons with disabilities in May, 2008, in the preparation for the trial system that involves citizens as jury (lay juror) starting in May, 2009. In July a first-ever mock trial is held in Tokyo District Court. During the two-day trial, a deaf juror is present with three interpreters provided.

- The Ministry of Public Management, Home Affairs, Posts and Telecommunications asks for public opinions in August related to "the notification draft to revise a part of the regulation for election candidates' speeches including their career through broadcasting media" in order to provide interpreting in the House of Representatives proportional representation election. Currently the interpreting provided is only limited to the House of Representatives small electoral district election (for the use of video brought) and the House of Councilors proportional representation election.

- "The hearing dog and service dog training center" completed in Miyata-mura, Nagano Prefecture, run by the Hearing Dogs Society . It is reportedly the first kind in Japan for making a whole barrier-free building as a training facility for hearing dogs and service dogs. The hearing dogs are very fewer. The training of hearing dogs starts in the 1980's.

- Dr. Satoru Fukushima (45), a Deafblind man and a well-known advocate for the rights of the Deafblind, promoted to the professor on October 1 at the University of Tokyo Highly-Advanced Science and Technology Research Center. He is the first Deafblind person who is a full-time professor in Japan. Since April, 2001, he has been the assistant professor and later the associate professor.

- The "Prefectural Information Support Center for the Deaf," a central center that provides deaf persons with various services including counseling, interpreting, note taking, etc., opens in Yamagata City on October 1. It is the 40th among such kinds of centers for the Deaf across Japan.

- 30th National Skills Competition for Persons with Disabilities held in Chiba City on October 24-26, sponsored by the Employment Support Institute for the Aged and Persons with Disabilities and Chiba Prefecture. Harue Murakami (46), a deaf dental technician from Morioka City, awarded the gold prize from the the Minister of Health, Labour and Welfare.

- 38th National Meeting of Deaf Women held in Tokyo on October 25. Princess Kiko, the wife of Prince Akishinonomiya who is the younger brother of the Japanese Crown Prince, gives a keynote speech in sign language.

- First Asia-Pacific Deaf Baseball Tournament held in South Korea on October 25-27, sponsored by the South Korean Deaf Baseball League and co-sponsored by the All Tokyo Rubber-Baseball League of Deaf Adults, the Chinese Athletic Association of Persons with Disabilities and others. The participating teams are from South Korea, Japan, Taiwan and China.

- Students of the Yamanashi Prefectural School for the Deaf receives letters of thanks from the Chengdu City Special Education School in Sichuan, China where the large earthquake struck before the Olympic Games started in Beijing.

- 11th National Conference on Japanese Deaf History held in Kobe City in Hyogo Prefecture on November 1, sponsored by the Japanese Deaf History Society.

- The Cultural Seminar for the Deaf at a university level takes place in Tokyo from May through July. The lecturers from the various fields are all Deaf. It takes place again in November.

- 60th JFD national conference held in Ibaraki with more than 2,500 participants.

- 9th World Deaf Golf Championship will be held at the Tsu CC in Mie Prefecture in October, the first-ever championship to take place in Asia.

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