Sign language interpreting service arranged in prefecture assembly in Japan

The assembly steering committee of the Kochi Prefecture Assembly decided on April 26 that the interpreters be put on the gallery if requested in advance. This interpreting service will be available for the plenary session meeting scheduled for June 9 and further meetings.

The Kochi Prefecture Association of the Deaf had sent a letter to the Chairperson of the Assembly requesting for interpreting in March.

The interpreting service has already been introduced in the plenary assembly in 28 prefectures in the whole country, Kochi Prefecture being the 29th.

Among these prefectures, five (Tokyo, Osaka, Mie, Fukui, and Kumamoto) have always arranged the interpreting service. The rest of the prefectures arrange it when there is application.

In Kumamoto Prefecture, the video is taken on the interpreting and delivered through the Internet to be viewed on the monitor TV in the gallery.

Deaf woodcraft maker to hold first exhibition in Saga Prefecture

Shingo Hirakawa at work

Shingo Hirakawa (58), a Deaf professional woodcraft maker will hold the first exhibition at a gallery in Saga City, Saga Prefecture from April 27th through May 2.

He became Deaf when he was 1 year old due to medical mistreatment. He completed the carpentering course at the Saga Prefecture School for the Deaf, worked for a transom sculpture shop, and started his own business 14 years later. After closing the business in 1992, he opened "The Dragon Sculptor Shop" again in August, 2007.

He has produced various wood craft works, such as screen sculptures, sign sculptures and ornaments, with the use of about 150 carving knives.

Total of 40 wood craft works including the shoin-style ornaments, family crest frames, sculptures of an owl carved from one tree, etc. will be exhibited for sale.

Shingo says, "One of the wonderful things about the wood craft is to show what the producer thinks inside. I will be happy if the visitors find various expressions from these works".

Sign language introduced first in national museum in Osaka Prefecture

"The Languages of the world" has been exhibited with the theme "What is the language?" in the National Museum of Ethnology located in Osaka Prefecture since March, 2010.

Sign language is first introduced as a form of communications as well as a spoken language in the museum.

Also in the theme "What is the sign language?", eight sign languages signed by native signers are demonstrated in the video.

Official site in Japanese:

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".

Last suit settled over law on disability welfare costs

A lawsuit over a 2006 law requiring people with disabilities to pay higher costs when receiving welfare services was settled Wednesday at the Tokyo District Court, ending a series of similar cases filed against the state, following a decision in January by the government to scrap the law.

Read more (in English):

National Sports Conference for Deaf scheduled for September in Tokushima Prefecture needs more volunteers

The organizing committee members at work.

The National Sports Conference for the Deaf, sponsored by the Japanese Federation of the Deaf, will be held in Tokushima Prefecture on September 16-19. It will be the first time in 39 years since the last event in 1971.

High-ranking athletes in the Conference will be recommended for the Japanese national team at the Deaflympic Games in Athens, Greece in 2013.

About 1500 participants from around Japan will be expected, and 300 volunteers are needed for the preparation and management of the national event.

The organizing committee has requested about 30 sign language circles for the recruitment of the volunteers in the prefecture since last autumn. However, only about 150 persons responded. So the committee continues to ask the local residents for the cooperation.

Minister holds second interview on UStream, using sign language for self-introduction

The Minister of Public Management, Home Affairs, Posts and Telecommunications, Kazuhiro Haraguchi, had a live interview on UStream on April 9, one of the streaming media on the Internet. He did not inform the Office of Public Relations of the ministry about the interview in advance and it became a hot topic in the whole country.

Minister Haraguchi notified through Twitter about the second interview scheduled for April 16, which attracted about 1200 viewers as the first live interview on the Internet. He explained the overview of the current issues in the national policy.

Finally, he had interactive discussion with some of the viewers. Responding to a request to show his sign language for the Deaf, the minister introduced himself in sign language.

Kazuhiro Haraguchi's official site in Japanese:

Group of Japanese hearing university students communicate with Deaf students in sign language in China

The volunteer group of Japanese university students studying at Beijing University visits school for the Deaf and communicate with the students in Chinese sign language in China.

After a large earthquake hit Sìchuān Province on May, 2008, the Chinese sign language club for the Japanese people in Beijing told one of the hearing university students that the buildings of the school for the deaf totally collapsed in the stricken area, too and the Deaf students are mentally hurt.

She and 10 other students studying at Beijing University formed a group to help these stricken Deaf students with sign language.

As the sign languages of Japan and China are quite different, the group learned Chinese sign language from a Chinese teacher every week since February, 2009.

The group visited the special education school in Sichuan Deyang as one of the stricken area support of The Japan Foundation Japanese Culture Center in Beijing, and deepened the friendship through sign language with the Deaf students in May, 2009.

The group also visited a school for the Deaf in Nanjing, Chiangsu Province and sang Chinese songs in sign language in front of about 160 middle students in March, 2010.

One of the group members said, "They were clapping together while we sang a song. I was moved with tears. I think they understood how we have felt for them".

Service facility for Deaf in Shiga Prefecture trains the world's first dogs for DeafBlind

Masaya Okada, a DeafBlind man (left), practices
walking with the dog as his trainer watches them.

The service facility for the Deaf, located in Moriyama City, Shiga Prefecture near Kyoto, has trained dogs as "assistant dogs for DeafBlind persons" since April, 2009.

The dog training began when a DeafBlind man, Masaya Okada (44) who needs assistance from his family and others when going out, said that he has wanted to walk around freely with the dog.

There are 1000 or more dogs for the visually impaired and 19 hearing dogs for the Deaf in the whole country according to the result of the investigation in August, 2009 by the Ministry of Health, Labour and Welfare. They said that such a case in Shiga Prefecture may be the first example in the world.

There are about 22,000 DeafBlind persons in Japan.

New junior high school students admitted to private school in Tokyo in April

(above) In the entrance ceremony, the new junior high school students are welcomed with the applause.
(bottom) They are handed the textbooks and talk in JSL in the classroom after the ceremony.

The junior high school at the Meisei Gakuen opened on April 9. The Gakuen, located in Shinagawa Ward, Tokyo, is known as the first and only private school for the Deaf that offers the bi-bi program in Japan.

Seven Deaf junior high school students participated in the ribbon cutting. All the students just completed the elementary school program in March. They had also chosen the gray school uniform. The teacher teaches English in JSL, too.

Principal Michio Saito said, "I want to support the students so that they may image what kind of adult they will be, and what work means in the future".

Bandana helps Deaf community in disaster

Hand-made Bandana
to help the Deaf community in disaster

The Sumida Ward Association of the Deaf and the sign language circle in Tokyo made the bandana used for the Deaf in case of the disaster such as earthquakes.

A purple, pink-colored bandana, square-shaped of 57 centimeters, is folded in half and put on the shoulders.

There are phrases respectively, "I am Deaf" and "I can sign", with the illustration of the ear and the hand, on the bandana so that the information is seen at a glance in the shelter.

About 500 copies of the bandana are being distributed to the Deaf.

Deaf student enrolled in public junior high school in Miyazaki Prefecture

Natsuki Mitsuo standing (center) along with a note-taker
at the entrance ceremony in the public school.

Over 100 new students including a Deaf girl, Natsuki Mitsuo (12), were enrolled in a hearing school, Tsunetomi Junior High School, in Nobeoka City, Miyazaki Prefecture, a part of the southern island of Japan on April 12.

Members of the sign language circle in the city interpreted the principal's address and the welcome comment from the school representative in the entrance ceremony.

Moreover, the teacher of the special support class did note-taking for Natsuki. She says she will make a lot of friends.

Computer support to DeafBlind in tenth year in Osaka Prefecture

The computer support service for the DeafBlind started in the Osaka Prefecture Central Library in April ten years ago.

With the support service, the participants who have obtained only limited information learned how to use e-mail, the Internet, etc. They said that the world has opened.

They use the computer software intended for the DeafBlind that they operate the computer with Braille or only with the arrow keys on the keyboard.

"Finger spelling" course to start in May in Hiroshima Prefecture

The "Finger spelling" course will take place at the welfare center in North Hiroshima City, Hiroshima Prefecture on every Tuesday from May 11 to June 29.

The city social welfare council will sponsor it as a part of the sign language introductory course, calling the residents for participation, "Why not learn as a start of the volunteer activity?".

The course aims to promote the concern for sign language among the residents and their involvement in volunteer work, etc.

A member of the North Hiroshima Association of the Deaf will be an instructor. He will teach not only the finger spelling, but also a basic conversation including daily greetings.

Seminar on support for international Deaf communities to be held in Tokyo in May

A group related to the support for the international Deaf community will hold a seminar in Tokyo on May 12, 18:30-21:30. Sponsoring is The Nippon Foundation.

The theme will be "Thinking about the frame of support to the Deaf communities in the Asian region including ASEAN (Association of South‐East Asian Nations)".

The lecturer will be Soya Mori, a Deaf researcher at the Institute of Developing Economies.

Sign Language interpreting will be provided.

English official site of The Nippon Foundation:

Cultural lecture meeting to take place in Nagoya City in May

A lecture meeting will be held on May 23, 2010, 14:00-16:00, in Nagoya City, Aichi Prefecture.

The lecturer will be Masao Ito. He is one of the prominent Deaf leaders who has been involved in various cultural activities related to sign language. The theme will be "There was always a war around me: What did the Deaf boy see?".

In the year when the Pearl Harbor was attacked, Masao was a two grader in a school for the Deaf in Tokyo. He was evacuated along with his classmates by the School officials in September, 1944, during a wartime. The next year he completed the primary school at the temple in evacuation destination in March.

He worked as a mathematics teacher for 34 years in the school for the deaf in Chiba Prefecture after graduating Waseda University in Tokyo.

Masao currently sits as an honorary board member of the Japan Academy of Deaf History and the Deaf Education Research Society, respectfully.

New emergency system for Deaf with use of cellular phone

The Miyazaki Prefecturel Police Department in the southern island of Japan started the operation of a new communication instruction system in full scale on April 1.

When you call the police by the 110 emergency number with your cellular phone, the location where you are standing is quickly traced through the dispatch display.

In the new operation, "the 110 emergency e-mail" system for the Deaf and hard of hearing was introduced.

Also, concerned parties explain the situation of the accident and the site while exchanging e-mail by the cellular phone, even take the photograph of the accident site with the camera and send it to the Communication Command Office in the Police Department.

Works of Deaf landscape painter exhibited in museum in Fukuoka Prefecture

One of the works by Eikei Tashiro
displayed in the museum.

A Deaf painter's landscape works are currently exhibited in a museum in Nogata City, Fukuoka Prefecture, a part of the southern island of Japan, until May 23.

About 80 works on the animal and the plant besides the landscape were vividly drawn, too.

Eikei Tashiro (1910-1996) lost hearing due to the high fever at the age of three. He showed the talent to draw a picture since he was a junior high school student. He also studied the Japanese style painting temporarily in Kyoto. After he had returned home, he established his own style of painting.

About 40 brush works and watercolor paintings of the students of the Prefecture Nogata School for the Deaf where Tashiro used to work have been exhibited in the hall.

New sign language for new tower in Tokyo

Tokyo Sky Tree (634 meters in height when completed in 2011) is under construction in Sumida Ward, Tokyo.

It has already exceeded Tokyo Tower. is exceeded.

English official site on Tokyo Sky Tree:

A local association of the Deaf decided how to express the Tokyo Sky Tree in sign language.

Yasuo Shoji (60), president of the local association of the Deaf shows how to sign for "Tokyo Sky Tree".

(left) make the finger spelling of "su" with both hands, and then
(right) move the hands upward.


They are enthusiastic to spread the sign representing the newer and higher tower, "We want to make it known to the whole country".

Hearing girls publishing book on sign language in Hiroshima Prefecture

Yamashita (left) and Goto showed their new book.
(photo: Http://

Seino Yamashita and Hane Gotou, both sixth graders in Hiroshima City, completed a book titled "Mysterious Eggs" that tells how wonderful it is to talk in sign language.

The book is about the girl, who was presented the flower by a Deaf old woman, studied sign language and signed to her, "Thank you".

Seino invited Hane, one of her childhood friends, to work on the project when they were fourth graders.

Seino had not been able to talk with Hane's Deaf parents in sign, and has wanted to be good at signing when to meet them again". Hane also wanted to be fluent in sign language to talk with her parents more. Their personal experiences and feelings about sign language were put in the story.

The project was accepted by the local social council on the youth development in 2009. Also the Prefecture Association of the Deaf and the print company handed their hands to the girls' dream to be realized in March.

The book, B5 size and 26 pages, is full of cut colored paper and drawings. Hane says, "Putting a lot of paper petals made me work hard". Seino hopes that a lot of people will learn sign language from our book".

Organization formed to promote spread of sign language in Niigata Prefecture

"We want many people to get to know sign language (JSL) more. We also change the current society to the one without discrimination".

Taku Koike (31) and his friends formed an organization called "Signing Hands" in Niigata City, Niigata Prefecture on April 1.

Taku, who is hard of hearing, said, "Actually, only handful of deaf persons don't sign. Our activities will contribute to the increase in the number of signers".

The organization will hold regular JSL classes, aiming to reach the number of 10,000 signers in the city. They will also offer a JSL instructor training program, hoping to establish the JSL course at a university some day.

South Korea Sign Language course starts in April

A new South Korea Sign Language course will start in Tokyo in April.

-Integrated South Korea Sign Language
19:30-21:00, Every Wednesday
15 students

-South Korea Sign Language
19:30-21:00, Every Friday
10 students

Course duration: April-September (20 times)

The lecturer is from South Korea. He graduated from the National Seoul School for the Deaf in South Korea.

Cultural courses for Deaf and Hard of Hearing in Tokyo to open in May

A regular cultural courses for the deaf and hard of hearing residents in Tokyo will be held at the Information and Culture Center for the Deaf.

The cultural courses will be:
-Flower arrangement:
Every Tuesdays, 13:00-15:30, May, 2010-February, 2011 (12 times a year)

Gypsum sketch, watercolor, and oil painting, etc. Outdoors sketch and exhibition scheduled, too.
Every Wednesday, 13:00-16:00, May 2010--February, 2011 (12 times a year)

-Basic English Class:
Details will be announced later.

Deaf college graduate dreams to be a fashion artist

Yofuko Shimizu looks forward to
working this April after graduation.

Yofuko Shimizu (22), a born Deaf native from Omura City in Nagasaki Prefecture, a part of the southern island of Japan, was one of the graduates at Tsukuba University of Technology in Tsukuba City, Ibaraki Prefecture in March. She will start working for an apparel company in Tokyo on April 1.

She has started to run for the dream, saying, "Because I am Deaf, there is something that I can understand. I want to accomplish something related to the fashion".

Because her mother got rubella during pregnancy, Yofuko has been born Deaf. She was willing to transfer to a hearing junior high school from the prefecture school for the deaf in Omura city when she was a 9th grader.

She was enrolled to Tsukuba University of Technology after leaving a hearing high school in the spring of 2006, majoring in the general design course.

At the university, she started up a fashion circle, and held the fashion show in the university festival every year. Also she and her classmates exhibited their works titled "Interior materials from a viewpoint of fashion" in Tokyo this February before the graduation.

Yofuko says, "Four years ago when I was admitted to the university, I did not know clearly what I wanted to do. Now I graduated and can say it was good for me to study at the university".

She determined to find a job related to fashion which has been her main interest. Her job hunting was difficult even though with the use of the hearing aid.

Yofuko told to her mother last autumn, "I want to appreciate that I was born Deaf. If I were hearing, I would never have had met many wonderful friends".

"There is no hierarchical relationship between the persons with disabilities. You must judge who the person is inside, not from the look. Some day I want to be an artist who expresses something".

Report on support for Deaf disaster victims published

It will be soon three years after the Noto Hanto Earthquake that occurred in Ishikawa Prefecture.

The Ishikawa Prefecture Association of the Deaf completed a report, titled "An overview on support activities for Deaf people in the Noto Hanto Earthquake" (A4 size, 112 pages).

The report introduces examples and issues based on experiences of city officials and volunteers in the safety confirmation in the stricken area, interpreting, the daycare service, etc. with the illustrations.

The association also published a result of the questionnaire about the support to Deaf victims at the disaster based on the responses from 19 cities and towns in the prefecture late last year.

It was pointed out that the support system for Deaf victims was varied to those cities and towns.

New graduate school in Tsukuba enrolls students with visual and hearing impairments

The entrance ceremony of the graduate school that was newly established for students with visual and hearing impairments was held at Tsukuba University of Technology in Tsukuba City, Ibaraki Prefecture on April 5. Seven men and women in the 20-40's were admitted to the graduate program.

The graduate school for the visually impaired students is the first time in the world according to the university. The graduate school for the Deaf students is said to be the third in the world following Gallaudet University and the Rochester Institute of Technology in the United States.

The graduate school offers only the technological-scientific research program with an MA degree.

It consists of two courses: the "industrial technology study major" that Deaf students study the information science, and the "health science major" that visually impaired students study acupuncture, moxibustion, physiotherapy, etc.

Chinese Deaf dancers perform in Nagasaki City in March

Avalokitesvara Bodhisattva
("A Thousand-hand Goddess"):
one of the performances
by the China Disabled People's Performing Art Troupe
that enchanted the Japanese spectator.

Fifty members of the China Disabled People's Performing Art Troupe enchanted the spectator in Nagasaki City on March 22 by a variegated repertoire of 17 like the dance, the musical instrument performance, and the classical Chinese play, etc.

See more performances in English:

Electric maker delivering voice recognition system to Mazda

The Nippon Electric Co. (NEC) announced that they had delivered the voice recognition system to the vehicle part laboratory of Mazda on March 25.

The laboratory works on experiment, research, and verification business of vehicle development.

The "Voice Graphy" system supports the development business by Deaf workers in the laboratory such as in the minutes making.

Deaf school in Yamaguchi Prefecture to be closed this spring

A parting ceremony took place for 16 teachers and staff leaving their position at Yamaguchi Southern General Special Support School (originally Shimonoseki School for the Deaf) located in Shimonoseki City, Yamaguchi Prefecture on March 29.

The school was established by the Prefecture in 1929 to serve the Deaf young children and students.

Closing the Shimonoseki School for the Deaf had been decided in haste in the end of last year because of the prefecture's finance problem and a decrease in the number of the enrolled students, etc.

The Deaf children and students will go to the main school for the Deaf in Yamaguchi City or a hearing school in April.

Deaf pitcher transferred to third team in Hokkaido in April

Pitcher Yuya Ishii (right) shakes hands
with the head coach.

A born-deaf Yuya Ishii (28) was transferred from the Yokohama Bay Starts team to the Nippon Meat Packers team in Hokkaido by the exchange trading with other pitcher.

An interview with Yuya was held in the Sapporo Dome on April 3. Yuya in the uniform with number 27 on the back said, "I will concentrate on each ball when to throw to contribute to the team".

Yuya, who started playing the baseball when he was a second grader, usually puts hearing aids on. The Nippon Meat Packers team will be his third team since he joined the Chunichi Dragons team in 2004.

Car body maintenance union to promote the "Ear Mark" sign

The "Ear Mark" sign was set up
on the reception desk of the union secretariat.

"We will be happy to talk in writing".

To relieve a Deaf person's worry, the Yamaguchi Prefecture Car Body Maintenance Cooperative Union, consisted of the sheet metal traders, started the promotion of the "Ear Mark" sign.

This union send the Ear Mark sign to 100 concerned companies, puts it on the reception desk, etc. with the note pad, and is ready for communication in writing.

Lecture meeting on sign language held in Ehime Prefecture

The lecture meeting concerning sign language was held in the General Welfare Center in Matsuyama City, Ehime Prefecture on March 22.

About 50 people who were studying sign language participated and learned the knowledge, etc. to communicate with Deaf persons without any trouble.

To deepen understanding of the deafness, and to improve interpreting skills, the City Social Welfare Council held the event.

Tatsuya Hasegawa gave a lecture on sign language. He is a former teacher of Niigata School for the Deaf and a management committee member of the National Interpreting Issues Study Society located Kyoto.

Deaf girl graduates from hearing haircut beauty school as the top

Reina Matsuda, a Deaf graduate from the haircut beauty school.

The graduation ceremony took place at a hearing haircut beauty school in Ise City, Mie Prefecture on March 15.

Reina Matsuda (21) got over the difficulties in communication while attending for two years until the day of graduation.

At the Mie Prefecture School for the Deaf, she had obtained the qualification as a barber. And then she went to a hearing haircut beauty school to acquire the beautician's qualification. She had wanted to work as a beautician. "I have been attracted to the dramatic change in beauty".

In the beauticians' school, she had to study with hearing classmates, which was unusual for her because she was not possible to communicate in sign language like her old Deaf classmates. She had a hard time in communications with the hearing friends and school personnel.

She first had gotten depressed because the hearing peers did not understand her messages properly. Thinking that anything would not start unless she would move first, she used gestures and writing a pad for the communication as much as she could.

She gripped a point; "Speaking while seeing other person's face is important". She questioned positively, and learned a nailing method, makeup, dressing up, hair cutting, hairstyles, etc. one after another.

After receiving the diploma, Reina looked happy. She will work at a beauty parlor in Tsu City, only waiting for the official announcement of test results of the national examination at the end of March.

Reina says, "I want to be a beautician who can always satisfy the guest's demand with a smile".