Local courts differently dealing with issue on interpreting in Japan

The 4th hearing for the lawsuit on the disability support law, which the disability advocates have claimed to be unconstitutional, was opened in the Wakayama district court on April 9.

The judge showed appreciation for the plaintiff's hardship for one year or more after the reconciliation was settled.

A lot of interpreters must have been indispensable for the Deaf in the gallery for this lawsuit brought in 14 district courts in whole country.

The defense lawyers had proposed to put the interpreters in court before the first hearing at the Wakayama district court last June.

The pipe chairs were put for the interpreters in the gallery. However before the third hearing, it was approved for the interpreters to interpret in the court room.

The deaf persons in the gallery would understand what are said while seeing the whole in court. So looking at the judge, the plaintiff, the defendant and then the interpreters alternately will cause the much stress on the Deaf persons, who hardly understand the flow of the communications taken in court.

However, the way taken in Wakayama Prefecture seems to have been a rare case when comparing to the other courts across Japan. The majority of them even including Tokyo provided the pipe chairs in the gallery for the interpreters.

In the first hearing at the Tokyo district court in September last year, the interpreters, who stood up to be seen easily, was temporarily warned by the court staff. It was formally approved that the interpreters would interpret while standing in January this year.

The Saitama district court required the interpreters to get the ticket for hearing. They interpreted seating on the pipe chairs in the gallery where vacant seats available.

The way how to deal with the interpreting issue differs by local courts because there is no clear set of rules about the interpreter, and it totally depends on the judge's control of court proceedings.

Hideo Inoue, a social security laws professor of Kanazawa University, points out, "Sign language is a kind of communications, the one to be secured as human rights".

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