The government is trying to promote the use of the adult guardianship system, which is meant to protect the assets and rights of those with dementia or intellectual disabilities.
However, those who utilize the system are unable to work as civil servants or security guards, and lose their credentials as doctors and nursing care workers. This is due to a disqualification clause in laws and ordinances under the jurisdiction of various government ministries and agencies limiting the occupations and certifications of those who are under the protection of a guardian.
There are more than 180 such laws. In other words, a system created to protect the rights of wards has robbed the same people of their chance to work and participate in society.
The government has decided to completely rid the system of the disqualification stipulation, and is set to submit a related bill to the ongoing session of the Diet. The move is long overdue, and ministries and agencies should take thorough steps to rid the system of contradictions.
The adult guardianship system is currently being used by some 200,000 people. There are three types of guardianship covering support for those with extreme loss of rational decision-making capacity to those who have only a slight incapacitation: guardianship, curatorship and assistance. The former two comprise at least 90 percent of all adult guardianships, and the disqualification clause applies to these two types.
As a result, those under guardianship or curatorship cannot obtain various qualifications, such as certification to work as nursing care workers or social workers, nor can they become board members of companies and other incorporated organizations.
The number of people with disabilities who manage and clean parks, or work at nursing care facilities as local government employees is increasing. But if such people were to use the adult guardianship system, they would lose their jobs. In fact, there have been numerous cases of people with disabilities losing their jobs after becoming a ward of a guardian because they had been exploited financially by relatives. Such cases have developed into lawsuits.
Just because someone lacks the capacity to protect themselves from rights violations and financial exploitation, it does not mean they do not have the ability to work in nursing care or as a security guard. The current system, which automatically deprives people of their jobs without consideration for individual circumstances, is nothing if not unreasonable.
When a family court decides to appoint an adult guardian, there are hardly any cases in which it explains the disqualification clause to the elderly or disabled person who is about to come under guardianship. More than a few people using the adult guardianship system have had their jobs and certifications seized unexpectedly, because they were never told of the system's demerits.
There has long been criticism of the disqualification clause, and in 2001, the government revised the law regarding a total of 63 occupations and certifications. However, because the revision was insufficient, the disqualification clause was incorporated into new legislation, and the stipulation is now part of even more laws than before.
This time, it is necessary to amend the system so that there are no such flaws. Disqualification clauses in ordinances set by local governments should also be abolished.