Prof. Hiroyaso Itoh
Chairman, Japan Abilities
For over 50 years, Professor Hiroyasu Itoh has been the driving force behind the “Abilities Movement” in Japan, which promotes independent living and workplace inclusion for people with disabilities. Deeply inspired by Dr. Henry Viscardi, Jr.’s work in the United States, Mr. Itoh, who become paralyzed in his lower limbs after contracting polio as a one-year old, founded the Japan Abilities Association and Abilities Care-net, Inc. in 1966. Today, Abilities Care-net, Inc. has a diverse staff of 1,000 employees, more than 35 sales offices, and operates 30 rehabilitation and assisted living facilities in Japan.
He launched the National Network of Japanese with Disabilities Act, which sought to secure basic human rights for the Japanese disability community in 2001. Ten years later, Mr. Itoh was appointed Vice Chairman of the Subcommittee on Anti-Discrimination. Under his leadership, the Subcommittee was instrumental in influencing the passing of Japan’s Anti-Discrimination Law for People with Disabilities, which unanimously passed in both the House of Representatives and House of Councilors. It became law in April 2016.