New Lawmakers In Large Wheelchairs Attend Diet

New lawmakers in large wheelchairs attend Diet

Two Japanese lawmakers with severe physical disabilities have attended the opening of an extraordinary Diet session for the first time.

Yasuhiko Funago and Eiko Kimura won seats in the July 21 Upper House election, representing a new party called Reiwa Shinsengumi.

Funago has amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, or ALS, while Kimura can hardly move her limbs. The two rely on large motorized wheelchairs.

The Upper House has made some renovations to make the chamber barrier-free in order to accommodate them.

On Thursday, caregivers were allowed by the house to accompany the two lawmakers and fill the ballots for them when votes were taken to elect the president and the deputy president of the chamber.

Funago responded to questions from reporters by moving his eyes on an array of Japanese letters in front of him and having a caregiver read his comments on his behalf.

He said he was surprised to see so many people turn out for him, and he wants to meet their expectations.

Kimura said that she has a mixed feeling of expectation and anxiety, and will fulfill her duty and stay mindful of her health conditions.

Asked about the renovation work, Kimura said she really appreciated it.

She also said she will do her utmost as a lawmaker for people with disabilities who are not eligible under the current system to receive publicly funded care during their work.

The Upper House decided for the time being to foot the bill for the caregiving while the two lawmakers perform their official duties.