Please view the main text area of the page by skipping the main menu.

Care for 4 disabled people in Japan ended after families call for improved service

The notice informing parents and guardians for four people with disabilities that their care service contract would end is seen in this image. (Mainichi/Atsuko Suzuki)

ISESAKI, Gunma -- A social welfare corporation in this eastern Japan city that manages day care centers for people with disabilities and other institutions is reported to have canceled care for four residents whose families sought an improvement in services, the Mainichi Shimbun has learned from city government and other connected persons.

    After the four people stopped receiving care, their families struggled to find a new care facility. Some parents and guardians were forced to quit their jobs or take time off to care for the individuals concerned, and some households have even struggled to support themselves as a result. One guardian said, "Are people with disabilities not allowed to voice their dissatisfaction? Are people in weak positions not permitted to even make themselves heard in society?"

    Social welfare company Kashinoki runs six facilities including for people with disabilities and after school care, in the Gunma Prefectural city of Isesaki. Additionally, since fiscal 2012 it has been managing a children's development support center in its capacity as an Isesaki Municipal Government-designated management company.

    According to an individual connected to the parties, the four people were using a day care center the company runs, but in February 2016 they were informed by Kashinoki that services would be reduced and cut. At an explanatory meeting for guardians, the company reportedly said that it "cannot offer support that requires a lot of staff," among other reasons. The guardians for the four people consulted with the city government's welfare division for persons with disabilities in August of that year, and submitted a document with their thoughts and requests.

    Then in September, the company sent notices to the homes of each of the four people that said "a continuation of support would be difficult" and that "as of the last day of September, the contract to provide all services will come to an end." Communicating through the city government, the guardians petitioned the firm to reconsider its position, but no changes were made, and the four people lost their use of the day care center at the end of September.

    The families reported that their lives fell into confusion following the sudden change in their situations. The people requiring care have relatively serious disabilities, meaning there are few facilities able to accept them. In the six months to two years in which families could not find a new place, the individuals needing care were forced to be at home. In that time, some guardians quit their jobs or took time off to take care of them, and one single-mother household was reportedly put under harsh financial stress.

    The guardians were extremely shocked, and looking back on the time one guardian told the Mainichi that they "couldn't go out anywhere, and we were socially isolated and in despair." Another said, "I felt at a loss as to why we had taken this setback, and I began to distrust people. Every day I was anxious wondering what I should do." A guardian also admitted they had reached the point where they thought they might abuse their child.

    Regarding the reason why their care was terminated, the company's director Masami Okabe responded to a request for comment from the Mainichi in September, saying, "When we learned that a group of parents and guardians for children we had cared for over many years had gone to speak to the city government, we felt betrayed. The bond of trust between the children's guardians, the company and the facility was destroyed."

    But Okabe also said, "We intended to reset our relationship and resume the contract from October, but the other parties did not show a willingness to re-sign a contract." However, guardians the Mainichi spoke to maintained they had "never received any explanation pertaining to re-signing a contract."

    (Japanese original by Atsuko Suzuki, Maebashi Bureau, and Koji Osawa, Kiryu Local Bureau)

    Also in The Mainichi

    The Mainichi on social media