ASEAN Institute on Disability and Public Policy (IDPP) Signing Ceremony
First of all, I would like to take this opportunity to offer my sincere gratitude for the concerns and support extended by our friends from around the world. Since the great earthquake struck Japan on March 11, we not only received kind words of sympathy but also large sums of donations. These countless heart-warming gestures of support have tremendously encouraged the Japanese people who are desperately trying to recover from the disaster.
To help reconstruct damaged regions of Japan, The Nippon Foundation has launched a disaster relief fund with emphasis on providing assistance to those to whom public support is not easily available, such as the elderly, people with disabilities, foreign citizens and children who have lost their parents. It often happens in state of emergency, like natural disaster, that support inevitably is given first to the majority groups and that attention to minority groups such as people with disabilities are apt to fall behind in time. I believe that it is of critical importance that the people with disabilities themselves be involved actively in the process of drawing up policies that positively impact their way of life. They must be the main actors as they are the ones that know best and are the owners of the issues that need to be solved.
However, in reality, disabled people have very limited opportunity to be involved in policy planning. When we turn our attention to the whole region of Asia, we notice that there are very few individuals with disability who are employed even in the competent government offices.
One of the reasons may be the inadequate level of education of people with disabilities. In the developing regions, where many of the people with disabilities are facing difficulty in receiving even basic education, higher education is often beyond their reach not to mention acquiring master’s degree through tertiary education that allows for achieving highly professional skills and knowledge. This being the reality, it is not rare that best of the handicapped students in the developing countries go overseas for their studies.
To address such diversity of problems, The Nippon Foundation thought it necessary to create an educational institute, the Institute on Disability and Public Policy (IDPP) in the ASEAN region which will provide high level of specialized education on public policy to persons with disability, with full support from our joint partners.