Yasuhiko Funago and Eiko Kimura both rely on carers for their physical conditions

BBC reports that Japan’s first severely disabled lawmakers Yasuhiko Funago and Eiko Kimura have joined parliament.

Funago has hasamyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) AKA Lou Gehrig’s disease. The 61-year-old was diagnosed with progressive neurological disease in 2000 and has progressively lost mobility in his limbs since.

He is only able to communicate through a computer system or his carers.

Kimura has had cerebral palsy since she was 8-years-old and is paralysed apart from her right hand.

Their introduction to parliament has been regarded as a huge step for representation of disabled people in Japan. Whilst neither are the first politicians to use a wheelchair in Japan, both are the first who are severely disabled.

“I am full of emotions that this moment has arrived,” Mr Funago said after his election in July. “I may appear weak, but I have more guts than others as it has been a matter of life and death for me.”

Japan’s National Diet’s upper house went under modifications to provide access for their new lawmakers. The pair made their first appearance in parliament on Thursday.

Both politicians represent Reiwa Shinsengumi – a small leftist opposition party founded by actor-turned-politician Taro Yamamoto. The party won two seats in the election which were allocated to Funango and Kimura under the senate’s partial proportional representation system.

 

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