CSRDA Discussion Paper Series

Kai Seino
Kai Seino National Rehabilitation Center for Persons with Disabilities
Employment for persons with disabilitiesVocational rehabilitationQuota systemAnti-discriminationReasonable accommodation
Goal 8: Decent Work and Economic GrowthGoal 10: Reduced Inequalities
Report on the "Status of Employment of Persons with disabilities" in 2019

There are two typical international methods of employment policies for people with disabilities:the Quota System and the Anti-Discrimination System. The international trend of employing disabled people has shifted toward anti-discrimination, since the adoption of the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities at the United Nations in December 2016. However, many reports have spoken of the ineffectiveness of the anti-discrimination systems (Acemoglu et al, 2001, Melanie, 2008, etc.). Therefore, it is necessary to re-examine the effectiveness and relationship between the quota employment system and anti-discrimination system of employment policies for disabled people, in light of recent international trends and realities. Against the above background, with the aim of examining effective employment policies for individuals with disabilities, this study made an international comparison of the systems and employment realities for disabled people, in Japan and other countries, through theoretical discussion and literature based examinations. The seven target countries were Japan, the United States, the United Kingdom, Germany, France, Italy, and Sweden. First, comparison was conducted between the quota and anti-discrimination employment systems of the seven countries, along with the historical policy background, the systems’ realities, and employment in those countries. As a result, the countries that were characterized from a historical perspective were the United Kingdom and the United States. The United Kingdom shifted completely from a quota employment system to an anti-discrimination system. The United States, due to the limitations of its anti-discrimination system, introduced a substantial quota employment system. Japan, Germany, and France, with their main policy as the quota employment system, positioned this system as affirmative action. Therefore, based on the current situation, the two systems can be claimed as complementary to each other. Regarding the effects of both systems, the results suggest of a certain effect of the quota employment system on Japan and Germany, while the anti-discrimination system is remains ineffective. Next, we evaluated Japan's employment policies for disabled individuals, from the perspective of the principles of the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, and focused on three issues. First, indirect anti-discrimination is not explicitly prohibited. Second, Japan's unique special-purpose subsidiary system risks excluding people with disabilities from the general workplace. Third, there is a risk that certain disabled individuals will be excluded from the quota employment system, because the definition of disability differs among the systems. On the other hand, when evaluated for effectiveness, the actual employment rate and employment rate of disabled individuals in Japan are likely to be higher than those in developed countries, suggesting the effectivity of the systems. Finally, as a new and effective relationship between the quota employment system and the anti-discrimination system, this study proposes a complementary relationship that focuses on the effects of the two systems. It also proposes an inclusive, philosophy-driven relationship that places the anti-discrimination system, based on the principles of equality and equal opportunity, as the foundation and superior policy concept.