Deaf Cafe in Kobe City, popular among the deaf youth

"The Deaf Cafe," located in Nada Ward, Kobe City, was in the second year in August, 2008. In the cafe deaf persons enjoy communications in Japanese Sign Language (JSL). It is said that the cafe is crowded with 100 people or more at the largest sometimes. The person who comes from the distance enjoys a long talk for several hours, too. The communication space for deaf persons at the flourishing business may indicate that the opportunity for the deaf to chat together is very limited. The managing group said they would continue the cafe in the future as a place for the information exchange for the deaf.

The Deaf Cafe is managed by a group called "Hyogo Deaf Net." The rental coffee shop in the shopping street in the ward is rented, and it is open on the third Wednesday every month, 11:30-20:00. Persons who learn JSL, as well as deaf persons and their friends, visit the cafe.

When the cafe opened, the visitors were mostly people from the local area. It got into the news on by word of mouth and the Internet, etc., those who wished to expand the friendships started to come over to the cafe from Osaka, Kyoto, and Nara. The manager was surprised, saying that he did not expect it. There is a similar approach in Osaka and other cities, but the kind of this cafe seems to quite meet the needs of deaf persons.

Standing out in the visitors are young deaf persons. One of them is a deaf woman from Ashiya City. She is employed in the medical field after graduating from a university. At the workplace, she found that there was no one who was fluent in JSL. So, she said she has felt impatient in respect of communications.

"I communicate with my co-workers through writing, yet it is not enough. I have wanted a chance to talk freely in JSL, which actually is not easy." She took a day off and visited the cafe in July.

She said that she was surprised because there is so no connection among the deaf persons when talking in the cafe. She also pointed out that even though they are socially independent, actually there are few places that they can comfortably chat.

Source: The Kobe Shimbun

Notification draft to introduce interpreting in the election system

August 26, 2008, the Ministry of Public Management, Home Affairs, Posts and Telecommunications started asking for public opinions 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 introduce interpreting in the House of Representatives proportional representation election.

The notification draft was published on August 25, and the deadline for the submission of public opinions is September 24, 2008.

The Ministry says it plans to notify the revised regulation as soon as possible based on the result of the opinions submitted.

Currently interpretation 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.

According to the Ministry, it will apply the partly revised regulation to more targets that interpreting will be used through the adjustment of this system.

Deaf old man tells his experience with atomic bombing in Hiroshima

Every summer there are meetings in Hiroshima, Nagasaki including Tokyo, Japan that deaf persons tell how they went through the disasters from the atomic bombs and air raids during 1940's.

This story was related by a 79-year-old deaf man, Masakatsu Morioka, from Hiroshima about his own experience.

In 1955 I visited the Atomic Bomb Museum with my deaf friend in Hiroshima City which just opened. I was stunned to see one photograph. It showed an eerie cloud stirred up from the ground. I was shocked and swallowed saliva.

The photo caption says that 'mushroom cloud that had been generated in Hiroshima after the atomic bombing'. I began to wonder. "Was it such a terrible bomb?" It was a moment I learned the word, "Mushroom cloud" for the first time in a decade year after my encounter with the atomic bombing.

Everything exhibited in the Museum was new to me, despite I have experienced the disaster those days. I then felt the deaf people in Hiroshima must have been left out during the "ten blank years" without knowing anything.

When I was a child, I got the measles and became deaf. Therefore I was not accepted to the student mobilization. My home was away 2 kilometers from the ground zero in Hiroshima City. On August 6, 1945 when the atomic bomb was dropped down, I stayed home alone and my family have gone out for some errands. I sat down in the veranda, looking outside absent-mindly.

A middle-aged man, who was walking past my house, suddenly stopped and looked up into the sky. He then noticed something unusual and began running at full speed. When I was going to look up into the sky, the flash ran at the moment in the sky.

I came creeping out of my house that was collapsed, I saw the town completely in ruins. I could not understand what has happened. I ran out at once to the monopoly bureau in the office where my loving mother has worked.

All my family were miraculously safe, but I felt very tired due to a sequela of the atomic bombing. I know somehow my poor physical condition was influenced by the atomic bombing that day, but no one told me why so.

Mother was worried about my physical condition and did not tell me anything to frighten me, though she seemed to have heard the cause. At the school for the deaf, I learned the term, "atomic bomb," but what was explained was not easy to understand. After all, it was near the end of the year of 1945 when I knew what was dropped to Hiroshima was a new bomb.

Being a deaf radiation victim. While the social condition settled down gradually and I got rid of confusion, double discrimination waited. Even though I was employed, I said that my physical condition due to the atomic bomb disease was too poor to work overtime, and then I was ignored. "Because I am not only deaf, but also a radiation victim, I will be discriminated more and more." So I stopped telling my own atomic bomb experience.

My deaf friend and I talked each other about the atomic bomb after the visit to the Atomic Bomb Museum. He said that he found himself in a place away by tens of meters when fainting at the moment of the explosion. He remembered the picture of the radiation victim who was blown off by the blast and sticked to the tree, saying "Now I have come to see what there was to be at that time."

It took ten years to realize that I was quite near the death. It also have taken ten years to learn how I was ignorant myself. It made me feel mortifying somehow. I started learning about the atomic bombing through the related documents.

Nowadays I tell the deaf and hearing people about my experience of being a atomic bomb victim who happened to be deaf. I tell them that I have concealed the fact that I was a radiation victim, and that I have never known anything about the atomic bomb for a long time. Because of myself, this is my obligation to make people aware of the deaf radiation victims.

Source: Sankei Shimbun

Revised Road Traffic Law Allows Deaf Drivers To Drive Without Hearing Aids

Effective on June 1st, 2008, the revised Road Traffic 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 a sticker 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 Police Department announces a new sticker mark for deaf drivers in May, 2008 prior to the efforcement of the revised Law.

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.

Early August, Noboru Yoshihara of Niigata Prefecture became the first deaf person to pass the driving license test without the use of hearing aids. He said he has practiced at a local driving school since the revised law was in effect in June.