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Another severely disabled candidate on path to victory in upper house poll

Eiko Kimura, left, poses with Taro Yamamoto, leader of the political group Reiwa Shinsengumi, in Tokyo's Chiyoda Ward early on July 22, 2019, upon learning about her projected victory in the July 21 House of Councillors election. (Mainichi/Masahiro Ogawa)

Eiko Kimura, a severely disabled candidate who ran from the political group Reiwa Shinsengumi, is on track to victory in the July 21 House of Councillors election, becoming the second candidate from the group to secure a projected win in the proportional representation bloc.

Seated in an electric wheelchair, Kimura, 54, appeared in front of her supporters at 1 a.m. on July 22 and said, "I'm feeling the tremendous weight of each and every vote cast by people with disabilities who are placed in a predicament. I'm determined to do my best."

Kimura followed Yasuhiko Funago, 61, another candidate put forward by Reiwa Shinsengumi, who is largely paralyzed due to amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), to secure a projected victory in the upper house contest. Both Funago and Kimura were fielded in the group's "special quota," or seats given top priority on a party or group's list of proportional representation bloc candidates.

Kimura suffered a cervical spine injury when she was 8 months old, and was left with severe disabilities. She spent her time from childhood at a care facility before she became self-reliant at age 19. She has since been engaged in activities in support of profoundly disabled people who wish to live in a community outside care facilities.

During her campaigning, Kimura, in her electric wheelchair, advocated against the integration of welfare services for people with disabilities and nursing care insurance services, and called for a form of education where children with and without disabilities can learn together.

(Japanese original by Aya Shiota and Takashi Yamashita, Integrated Digital News Center)

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