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Law enacted to promote use of guide dogs.

TOKYO, May 22 Kyodo

The House of Councillors passed a bill Wednesday to promote the training and ease the use of guide dogs to help the disabled become more independent.

The bill, which will come into effect as law Oct. 1, will prohibit public facilities and transportation such as buses and trains from rejecting guide dogs accompanied by disabled people.

After October 2003, the dogs will be allowed to accompany their owners into private facilities used by the general public, such as hotels, restaurants and supermarkets.

Under the law, the dogs will be legally defined as those aiding the blind, deaf, otherwise disabled, and the elderly.

It includes a section to encourage private facilities, including business offices and rental properties, to allow guide dogs to accompany disabled people into them.

The law stipulates that such dogs be trained and certified at government-designated institutions. The dogs will be allowed to live with their owners in public housing.

The law also urges the state and municipal governments to educate the public on the importance of the dogs' roles and urges the public to try to assist disabled people with such dogs.

The government will allocate assistance for the training of guide dogs for the deaf and elderly -- which have yet to become popular in Japan compared with Seeing Eye dogs for the visually impaired -- to promote such dogs.

A nonpartisan group of lawmakers submitted the bill to the Diet last December and the bill passed the House of Representatives in April.

Appeals for such legislation by Yoshitomo Kimura, 41, a programmer confined to a wheelchair from Takarazuka, Hyogo Prefecture, prompted the lawmakers to submit the bill.
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Publication:Japan Policy & Politics
Date:May 27, 2002
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