The policies for people with disabilities in France and Japan have experienced a very big change through the 2000s.
The Council Directive 2000/78/EC which was enacted on 27 November 2000 established a general framework for equal treatment in employment and occupation. Additionally, in France, the Supreme Court's decision PERRUCHE of 17 November 2000 awarded damages of children born with disabilities. These two together had considerable influences on the French policy for people with disabilities, and resulted with the enactment of the Act of 11 February 2005 for equality of rights and chances, participation and citizenship of persons with disabilities.
On the other hand, in Japan, the Services and Supports for Persons with Disabilities Act of 2005 (which became a focus of criticism from people with disabilities) and the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (adopted by the UN General Assembly in 2006) made an impact on its policies for people with disabilities. Consequently, the Basic Act for Persons with Disabilities was revised (2011), being followed by the passing of the new Services and Supports for Persons with Disabilities Act (2012), and the revision of the Employment Promotion Act for Persons with Disabilities (2013), which forbade employment discrimination based on disabilities.
Policies concerning people with disabilities were not a topic of great interest in the 1990s. In the 2000s, however, they became a main topic in politics both in France and Japan. It is of great interest that both countries showed the same tendencies at around the same time. This is why I focused on and dealt with this theme in my doctoral thesis(障害者の雇用と所得保障－フランス法を手がかりとした基礎的考察：The employment and income security of persons with disabilities – a basic discussion guided by French law), which was published as a book from SHINZANSHA on June 2013 (http://www.shinzansha.co.jp/).
Let me continue to introduce the recent moves of policies for people with disabilities in France and Japan in more depth from my book, especially about employment and social protection.
1. EmploymentIn France, the employment promotion policy for people with disabilities was traditionally enforced by the quota system. A quota system for all people with disabilities was instituted in 1957, and the current system was established in 1987. In 1990, the Disability and Health Condition Discrimination Act was enacted. Since then, the principle of anti-discrimination and the quota system coexist in France. Though the former had no effect in the 1990s, it started taking effect in the 2000s after the Directive of 2000. This required member countries to incorporate prohibiting discrimination based on disabilities etc. and requiring employers to provide reasonable accommodation for people with disabilities in their domestic laws. Hence, the notion of reasonable accommodation, which is called appropriate measures in French, was introduced in the French law by the Act of 2005. This act reinforced the quota system too, so today these two combined contribute to the employment promotion for people with disabilities.
In Japan, the employment of people with disabilities was also promoted by the quota system with payment of contributions since 1976. The Japanese law has not had the principle of anti-discrimination for a long time, but it was finally introduced by the law revision of 2013. This revision received a great amount of influence from the Convention of 2006. Japan had to prepare domestic laws to ratify it. After the enforcement of this law revision, Japan has become one of the countries which have both the principle of anti-discrimination and the quota system.
It is worth noting that the principle of anti-discrimination developed in Anglo-Saxon countries assumes an important role in employment of people with disabilities in France and Japan, which had carried out policies centering on the quota system.
2. Social ProtectionIn the area of social protection, very interesting discussions was held about how to compensate the special expenses concerning and coming from disabilities in France and Japan.
In France, the Supreme Court's decision PERRUCHE of 2000 had a great impact on their society, awarding the right to damages to a child born with disabilities. This case served as a trigger revealing the insufficiency of policies for people with disabilities. As a result, PCH (la Prestation de Compensation du Handicap) was created by the Act of 2005. This provides financial aid, which aim to support the special care people with disabilities need, like receiving nursing services and purchasing assistive devices. Although PCH is limited to a certain amount, those whose income (not including working incomes, allowances like AAH(l’Allocation aux Adultes Handicapés) etc.) is less than a certain level have no self-pay burden. This is because special expenditures concerning and coming from disabilities should be supported by the whole society. People with disabilities have solidarity rights among the national community.
On the other hand, how to compensate the special expenses arising from disabilities has been the central theme last decade in Japan too. The Services and Supports for Persons with Disabilities Act of 2005 introduced a fixed self-pay rate of 10% substituting for the ability-to-pay principle. The cause of its installation was the budget shortfall of care services for people with disabilities. The Japanese with disabilities were required to pay some of those expenses themselves. This differed greatly from France, and brought about strong criticism from the parties in interest, especially people with disabilities. The fixed self-pay rate of 10% is left undeleted after the law revision of 2012, but now, monthly self-pay burden ceilings are set for each income bracket. Therefore, the low-income bracket has no self-pay burden. A special consideration is made for them to avoid excessive burdens. The Japanese system falls just one step short of the French one, but as expressed in my book, the fact that the former has accepted such measures is worth noting and is of importance.
The 2000s is an epoch of great change for people with disabilities not only in France but also in Japan. The international norms and rules, like the Directive of 2000 or the Convention of 2006 have greatly affected policies in both countries, but the spontaneous motivations toward reforms are also hard to ignore.
Of course there are a lot of differences between French and Japanese policies when investigated in detail. For example, with regards to the quota system, the French employment rate of people with disabilities is 6%, whereas for the Japanese, the rate is a mere 2%. However, both countries now think that the principle of anti-discrimination is a very important norm in employment of people with disabilities.
As for the expenses deriving from disabilities, the basic attitudes toward them are quite different between France and Japan. It is thought that people with disabilities need not absorb such charges in France, but it is not so in Japan. Instead, the Japanese system also tries to reduce the burden of people with disabilities by paying adequate attention to the low-income bracket, thus covering the expenses through society, meaning with tax.
Reforms of policies for people with disabilities are still ongoing. There is always more to do. Both France and Japan continuously need to tackle arising diverse issues in order to improve the policies for people with disabilities.