Upper House begins renovations to accommodate newly elected disabled lawmakers
Japan Times -- Jul 29
The Upper House on Sunday started renovation work for two newly elected lawmakers with severe physical disabilities.

As Yasuhiko Funago, 61, who has amyotrophic lateral sclerosis,and Eiko Kimura, 54, who has cerebral palsy, use bigger-than-normal wheelchairs, the Upper House removed three seats from its chamber for plenary sessions to create space for them to attend. The seats were at the back of the chamber near a doorway.

Funago and Kimura won their races in the July 21 election as candidates for Reiwa Shinsengumi, a political group founded in April by actor-turned-politician Taro Yamamoto to “challenge the establishment and status quo.”

Regulations will be substantially eased for them. Both will be allowed to vote via caregivers during plenary sessions. Funago will be allowed to use a computer for communication and medical purposes. The usual dress code will not be strictly applied.

The chamber’s steering committee agreed Thursday to improve the barrier-free accessibility of its facilities for the two. Shinsuke Suematsu, chairman of the committee, vowed to help Funago and Kimura fully play their roles as members of the upper chamber.

Part of the renovations will be completed by Thursday before an extraordinary Diet session begins. Further renovation work, including setting up special voting buttons, will be carried out by the start of another extraordinary Diet session to be held in the fall.

Other measures to ensure barrier-free access to the Upper House include the installation of a ramp at the central entrance, which is used only when the Emperor and state guests visit the chamber and when newly elected lawmakers attend the first session after an election.

In addition, the lawmakers will be preferentially allocated rooms in the public dormitory for Upper House lawmakers and can be accompanied by caregivers overnight.

参議院選挙でれいわ新選組から当選した重い障害のある舩後靖彦さんらの初登院に向け、本会議場をバリアフリー化する工事が28日から始まっています。 議場の入り口付近にある3人分の議席が運び出されています。新たなスペースができたことで、舩後さんと木村英子さんは車椅子のまま本会議に出席することができるようになります。ただ、投票に使う押しボタン装置の設置は間に合わず、秋の臨時国会に向けて整備が続くことになります。また、初登院の際に車椅子で国会議事堂に入れるように中央玄関に仮設のスロープを設置しますが、本格的な工事は今後の課題です。4日後に迫った臨時国会に向けて国会のバリアフリー化は急ピッチで進められていますが、介助者のサポートを巡る課題なども残されていて、与野党による協議が29日も行われる予定です。
News sources: Japan Times, ANNnewsCH
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