Guide Dogs in Japan:Japan Guide Dog Association

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Guide Dogs in Japan

Current situation of guide dogs in Japan

Approximately 1,000 guide dogs are active throughout Japan today.
There are ten guide dog breeding organizations in Japan which breed between 130 and 140 guide dogs every year.

The Act on Assistance Dogs for Physically Disabled Persons

Japanese society still lacks understanding of acceptance of guide dogs. In many cases guide dogs have given people with a visual impairment the freedom and confidence to go out alone, however this independence has been undermined by stores and transportation facilities refusing entry to guide dogs. In order to facilitate the acceptance of assistance dogs, including guide dogs, and to encourage people with a physical disability to fully participate in society, the Act in Assistance Dogs for Physically Disabled Persons was established.

The Act on Assistance Dogs for Physically Disabled Persons (hereinafter called "Act on Assistance Dogs") was established in May 2002. This legislation requires public facilities, such as stores and hospitals, to accept guide dogs, service dogs and hearing dogs ("Assistance dogs" as a collective term) that are partners of people with physical disabilities. It also requires that people with a physical disability, who are accompanied by assistance dogs, control the behavior and sanitation of their dog and display a sign informing others that the dog is an assistance dog. Furthermore, assistance dog breeding organizations are required to breed good quality assistance dogs. Therefore this legislation obligates facilities to accept assistance dogs, while at the same time requiring assistance dog users and assistance dog breeding organizations to act responsibly.

History of guide dogs in Japan

Dawn of guide dogs in Japan

    1938

    A young American tourist came to Japan with a German Shepherd guide dog. This was the first landing of a guide dog in Japan.

    1939

    The first guide dogs in practical use in Japan were four German Shepherds named Rita, Astor, Podo and Luthi, who were imported from Germany. They were trained in the Temporary Tokyo Daiichi Army Hospital for the social reintegration of soldiers who lost their eyesight in the war.

    1953

    Due to the chaos after defeat in the war, the development of breeding guide dogs was stopped and the existing guide dogs died. As far as we know, the last guide dog, Sedo lived until September 1953.

    1957

    Mr. Kenichi Shioya started studying about breeding guide dogs in 1948. In 1957, Mr. Shioya trained a German Shepherd, Champy to become the first domestically produced guide dog in Japan.

History of guide dogs in Japanese society

    1967

    Japan Guide Dog Association (JGDA) was established.

    1971

    Tokyo Guide Dog Association, which is now The Eye Mate, Inc., was established.
    Nippon Lighthouse Welfare Center for the Blind set up its Guide Dog Training Center.

    1972

    Sapporo Guide Dogs for the Blind Association, which is now Hokkaido Guide Dogs for the Blind Association, was established

    1973

    The Service Standards for Passengers, which was issued by the Japanese National Railways, allowed visually impaired people accompanied by their guide dogs on the train.

    1974

    Tochigi Guide Dog Center, which is now East Japan Guide Dog Association, was established.

    1975

    The Chubu Guide Dogs Association of Japan was established.

    1978

    With the Road Traffic Act revised, guide dogs were legally acknowledged. A notification from the Ministry of Transport allowed visually impaired people with their guide dogs on the bus and in the taxi.

    1981

    A notification from the Ministry of Welfare requested of hotels and restaurants that visually impaired people with their guide dogs be allowed in.

    1983

    Kansai Guide Dogs for the Blind Association was established. Fukuoka Guide Dog Association, which is now Kyushu Guide Dog Association, was established.

    1990

    Hyogo-ken Guide Dogs for the Blind Association, which is now Hyogo Guide Dogs for the Blind Association, was established.

    1991

    A notification from the Ministry of Transport requested of hotels that visually impaired people with their guide dogs be allowed in.

    1995

    The National Federation of All Japan Guide Dog Training Institutions was established as a joint organization of all the guide dog raising facilities in Japan.

    1998

    The Ministry of Welfare notified medical facilities of receiving patients or visitors accompanied by their guide dogs.

    1999

    March > Nippon Foundation made a nationwide research into the awareness of guide dogs on visually impaired people, guide dog users and organizations raising guide dogs.

    2002

    Guide Dog & Service Dogs Center of Japan, which is now Guide Dog & Service Dogs Association of Japan,was established.

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