On November 9, 2015, we introduced ourselves to Norikazu Matsubara, the new section chief of the Ministry of Health, Labour and Welfare’s Intractable Diseases Control Division. We reported on our previous discussions, discussed our most recent request letter to the Health Minister, and conveyed our wishes to continue our discussions with the Division under the new section chief.
The House of Representatives Adopts the Association’s Formal Petition
In the 2014 National Diet session, Japan ME Association’s petition regarding public assistance for ME/CFS patients was adopted by the House of Councillors. This year, we re-submitted the petition for adoption by the House of Representatives. On September 25, 2015, the House of Representatives’ Committee on Health, Labour, and Welfare unanimously approved the petition and announced its adoption at the House of Representatives’ plenary session. The Association’s petition was one of only two adopted among the 62 petitions submitted to the Committee in 2015.
71 Diet members across party lines agreed to introduce the petition, which we submitted with nearly 35,000 signatures, to the Diet. Signatories were not limited to ME patients and their family members, but individuals who learned about the disease for the first time and expressed their wishes for even incremental improvements to the current situation facing ME patients. The adopted petition will be delivered to the Cabinet. Thereafter, the Cabinet will inform the House of Representatives about progress made on the petition items approximately twice a year.
The Association would like to thank every individual who signed and helped us gather signatures for the petition. We would also like to thank all ME patients who participated in the 2014 Ministry of Health, Labour and Welfare’s ME/CFS patient survey. That survey revealed that 30.2% of patients in Japan are severe patients who are bedridden or nearly bedridden. The serious situation brought to light by the survey results and the widespread media coverage of its findings allowed us to persuade the government about the urgent need for welfare services for disabled patients.
We are encouraged by the adoption of our petition by the Diet. We hope that it will contribute to increased awareness about the disease and that the ME patients may be better understood by others.
We strongly desire that ME/CFS will be a covered disease under the Act on General Support for Persons with Disabilities. We will be steadfast in our efforts towards this goal until it is achieved.
List of the 71 Diet members who supported the petition (listed by party as of the date of petition submission):
- Liberal Democratic Party of Japan: Kenya Akiba, Yoichiro Imaeda, Hiroshi Imazu, Ayuko Kato, Katsutoshi Kaneda, Megumi Kaneko, Yasushi Kaneko, Jiro Kawasaki, Yayoi Kimura, Shigeyuki Goto, Yutaka Komatsu, Hirotoshi Sasagawa, Hideyuki Tanaka, Hiroaki Tabata, Naomi Tokashiki, Hiroyuki Togashi, Mayuko Toyota, Takashi Nagao, Toshinao Nakagawa, Shinichi Nakatani, Hiroyuki Nakamura, Yuya Niwa, Seiko Noda, Hajime Funada, Tsuyoshi Hoshino, Noriko Horiuchi, Hiromi Mitsubayashi, Jun Matsumoto, Fumiaki Matsumoto, Masahisa Miyazaki, Eisuke Mori, Hideki Murai
Democratic Party of Japan: Tomoko Abe, Satoshi Arai, Kenta Izumi, Kensuke Onishi, Mitsunori Okamoto, Yasuko Komiyama, Kaname Tajima, Keisuke Tsumura, Katsuhito Nakajima, Akira Nagatsuma, Yasuhiro Nakane, Chinami Nishimura, Akio Fukuda, Kazunori Yamai
Komeito: Shinichi Isa, Hisashi Inatsu, Keiichi Koshimizu, Shigeki Sato, Hideo Tsunoda, Michiyo Takagi, Shigeyuki Tomita, Noriko Furuya
Ishin: Yasushi Adachi, Nobuhiko Isaka, Yosei Ide, Yasuo Urano, Mito Kakisawa, Akihito Hatsushika, Kazuhiro Shigetoku, Toshihide Muraoka
Japan Communist Party: Seiken Akamine, Chizuko Takahashi, Terufumi Horiuchi
Social Democratic Party: Kantoku Teruya
The People’s Life Party: Denny Tamaki
Unaffiliated: Toshinobu Nakasato