Webcast archive: 19 disabled people killed in Japan

This week, we discuss the pitiful response to the murder of 19 disabled people in a Japan facility.

In this episode of Euthanasia & Disability, Amy Hasbrouck and Christian Debray discuss:

  • The mass killing of 19 disabled people in Japan draws a muted response
  • Government of Canada consultation on accessibility

Please note that this text is only a script and that our webcast contains additional commentary.


  • In the early hours of July 26, 19 disabled people were killed and 26 were injured when a former employee stabbed them in their beds at a care home in Sagamihara, Japan.
  • This was the largest mass killing in Japan since World War II.
  • The man later turned himself in, saying “It is better that disabled people should disappear.”
  • According to news sources, the alleged perpetrator had tried to deliver a letter to the leader of the lower house of parliament several months ago, offering to kill up to 470 disabled people, whom he said should be euthanized if they could not “carry out household and social activities.”
  • The Tsukuri Yamayuri En facility has refused to release the names of the people killed and injured, citing confidentiality concerns. Few families have come forward to publicly acknowledge their dead relatives.
  • Despite the viciousness of the attack, and the number of people killed and injured, the Japan massacre has received very little attention in the mainstream press and social media. Contrast this with the outpouring of public sympathy and solidarity after the January, 2015 shootings at Charlie Hebdo and elsewhere in Paris killed 20 people.
  • Many people in the disability community believe the lack of recognition of this tragedy is because the victims were people with disabilities in a society that stigmatizes disability.


  • The government of Canada is preparing to introduce a law to improve accessibility across the country.
  • Because it is a federal law, it can only affect the aspects of daily life over which the federal government has jurisdiction, so the law could be rather limited in scope. The federal government regulates things like the postal service, interprovincial trade, criminal law, federal lands, First Nations issues, currency and banks.
  • One possible solution to this problem is that the federal government could also create a “model statute” and offer it to the provinces to adopt. This would create consistency at least among the provinces that choose to adopt the model civil rights law.
  • The federal government has started a consultation process to solicit the opinions of Canadians with disabilities, to see what accessibility means to the (estimated) 14 % of Canadians who have a disability.
  • It is essential that each person participate in this consultation process by attending a hearing and/or submitting comments. In order for disabled people to enjoy real choices in life, there must be universal accessibility and an end to discrimination in public spaces, retail and commercial establishments, housing, transportation, recreation, government services and civic affairs, communications and employment.
  • As it stands now, accessibility and non-discrimination are inconsistent and piecemeal, provided for by charters, court cases and provincial laws that make a patchwork of rights and privileges that are difficult to enforce. An over-arching law (or set of laws) that creates consistent standards and remedies throughout the country – for everything from grab bars to sign language interpreters to accessible websites – is the only way to turn the equality promised of the charter of rights into real access that people can use in their daily lives.
  • For more information on the consultation and how you can offer your comments, visit their website at http://Canada.ca/accessible-Canada.