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The World’s First Institute on Disability and Public Policy Established [2011/05/12]

Signing Ceremony of IDPP for the ASEAN Region

The World’s First Institute on Disability and Public Policy Established

The participation of visually or hearing impaired and physically handicapped people in society is far behind in Japan and in Southeast Asia.

The Nippon Foundation has continued efforts to provide the handicapped people with opportunities of tertiary education with a hope of making them leaders in their own countries.

Steady work has been carried out in the form of a variety of different projects, in different countries. Namely, the establishment of scholarship funds at Gallaudet University, the world’s most distinguished university for the deaf and Rochester Institute of Technology, both in the United States. Also cooperation in the enactment of the [Disability Law] for the improvement and enrichment of deaf education in Vietnam, as well as creating sign language dictionaries in different languages and training human resources in partnership with the Chinese University of Hong Kong.

In recent years, the efforts of all stakeholders have come to bear fruit. In Japan, at long last, cabinet decision was made to acknowledge sign language as official language, and sign language interpretation is now provided at press conferences held at the Prime Minister’s Office. To come to think of it now, perhaps the article I wrote in the Asahi Newspaper on December 2, 2010 suggesting as an issue that “ the Japanese sign language be acknowledged as official language” might have been of some help in realizing the success we have achieved.

Through my long years of fighting a battle to eliminate leprosy and the discrimination that accompanies it, I have always held the conviction that the affected people are the stakeholders and the main actors in this fight. Therefore there was an urgent need to create an organization through which they would be able to place themselves in the frontline of the battle, and, at the same time, a need to nurture able people as resources.

So it is with the issue of people with handicap. In order to solve the problem, their active voice and action are the key factors, and it is absolutely necessary to nurture future leaders from amongst the people with disabilities.

With the great endeavor of Mr. Shuichi Ohno of the Nippon Foundation, a unique institute offering graduate courses has come to be established in Singapore.

According to the United Nation Economic Social Commission for Asia and Pacific, out of the total of 650 million people with disabilities worldwide, 400 million live in the Asia Pacific region where hardly any necessary measures were put into place for their benefit, including even those who have been victims of the Vietnam War and the Cambodian Civil War.

This new institute is a cyber-based organization. The objective of this Institute is to provide an education in public policy so that in the future persons with disabilities themselves would be able to educate talented resources that can play an active role in public policy in each country. It is the world’s first master’s program of public policy for the disabled people in the world. Classes will start in July of this year with the core collaborators who are Mahidol University in Thailand, Rochester Institute of Technology in Rochster, NY, the American University School of International Service in Washington DC, The Lee Kuan Yew (LKY) School of Public Policy at the National University of Singapore, and The National Technical Institute for the Deaf.

The capacity of students is 25. The Nippon Foundation will bear the total cost of travel and tuition for 15 students with disabilities from ASEAN countries.

The ASEAN Secretary-General、Dr. Surin Pitsuwan has high expectations for the success of IDPP and we are all committed to dedicating ourselves with passion and hope that it will be instrumental in solving the problems confronting the people with disabilities who are liable to be forgotten in the economic development that Southeast Asia is currently enjoying.


ASEAN IDPP Signing Ceremony Address

April 4, 2011

First of all, I would like to take this opportunity to offer my sincere gratitude for the concerns and support extended by our friends from around the world. Since the great earthquake struck Japan on March 11, we not only received kind words of sympathy but also large sums of donations. These countless heart-warming gestures of support have tremendously encouraged the Japanese people who are desperately trying to recover from the disaster.

To help reconstruct damaged regions of Japan, the Nippon Foundation has launched a disaster relief fund with emphasis on providing assistance to those to whom public support is not easily available, such as the elderly, people with disabilities, foreign citizens and children who have lost their parents. It often happens in state of emergency, like natural disaster, that support inevitably is given first to the majority groups and that attention to minority groups such as people with disabilities are apt to fall behind in time. I believe that it is of critical importance that the people with disabilities themselves be involved actively in the process of drawing up policies that positively impact their way of life. They must be the main actors as they are the ones that know best and are the owners of the issues that need to be solved.

However, in reality, disabled people have very limited opportunity to be involved in policy planning. When we turn our attention to the whole region of Asia, we notice that there are very few individuals with disability who are employed even in the competent government offices.
One of the reasons may be the inadequate level of education of people with disabilities. In the developing regions, where many of the people with disabilities are facing difficulty in receiving even basic education, higher education is often beyond their reach not to mention acquiring master’s degree through tertiary education that allows for achieving highly professional skills and knowledge. This being the reality, it is not rare that best of the handicapped students in the developing countries go overseas for their studies
To address such diversity of problems, the Nippon Foundation thought it necessary to create an educational institute, the Institute on Disability and Public Policy (IDPP) in the ASEAN region which will provide high level of specialized education on public policy to persons with disability, with full support from our joint partners.

There were two clear objectives that we set up in establishing the IDPP:

First, that it will be basically an internet-based education. If classes are offered online, it would alleviate the burden of commuting to school for those who have difficulties in mobility such as the hearing impaired and the physically handicapped students. For those with visual or hearing disability with problems accessing to information, they would be able to participate in the classroom lectures using the state-of-the art information and communications technology (ICT). These were the ideas that culminated in establishing a web-based system for the IDPP.

Secondly, the master’s degree that is conferred upon completion of their studies must be acknowledged as an authoritative degree. Also we must ensure that the quality of education is of the highest caliber and thus we decided to seek the cooperation of the leading universities from different countries.

Initially when we were formulating the details of the plan, it seemed that it would be very difficult to put it into reality and that it was almost an impossible dream. Yet today this dream has become a reality. I would like to thank all our wonderful partners that the Nippon Foundation has been so fortunate to work with for more than twenty years in various different projects and again this time.

Due to time constraints I am not able to introduce everyone but allow me to mention the few people who have been particularly instrumental in this endeavor.
President Piyasakol of Mahidol University who has given us tremendous support and understanding, in his capacity as president.

We have also asked, in addition to Mahidol University and the Rochester Institute of Technology the following two universities to be amongst the founding members of IDPP.

First, the American University School of International Service. The Dean, Professor Louis Goodman has supported us and has been very much involved from the very initial period and has also recommended Professor Derrick Cogburn, his colleague as the Project Director.

Vice Dean Dr. Mary Astrid Tuminez, is here representing the Lee Kuan Yew School of Public Policy which is bearing the responsibility of core research activities at IDPP.
So the IDPP is well on its way to set out into the world as an educational institution supported by the leading universities of the world.

Last but not least, I would like to once again express my deep gratitude to Dr. Surin Pitsuwan, the Secretary-General of ASEAN, who from the early days when the plan was still in its infancy and just an idea until this day, has given his personal support to our initiative. It is my greatest hope that in the near future the graduates of IDPP will be hired as staff of ASEAN Secretariat and from there to be involved in policies for the people with disabilities in their respective countries.

With the Institute now established, the Nippon Foundation gives its pledge to provide fifteen scholarships to individuals with visual, hearing and physical disabilities from the ASEAN region.
We are proud to say that we are confident that we can fully support the people with disabilities because of our past experience over the years. We will continue to do likewise in the future for excellent candidates who might have other disabilities.

Many of the people with disabilities have hidden talents and potential. It is my sincere wish that IDPP will become for those with disabilities an educational institute that will be able to draw out the intrinsic abilities and competence which would be given every opportunity to be exhibited for their own good. Again, I have high hopes that the people with disabilities would be in a position as leaders and that they would be able to bring about changes for the betterment of society not only in the ASEAN region but throughout the world.

We firmly believe that IDPP will play the role of a catalyst to bring about a better world to live in where the people with disabilities would be participating fully in society and that the world will be a better place for all mankind.


The Institute on Disability and Public Policy (IDPP) is established by the following four universities that have responded to the call and suggestion from the Nippon Foundation.

1. Mahidol University, Thailand
2. The Lee Kuan Yew (LKY) School of Public Policy at the National University of Singapore
3. The School of International Service at American University in Washington DC
4. The National Technical Institute for the Deaf (NTID) at the Rochester Institute of Technology in Rochester NY

The following three institutions will support the management of IDPP;

1. The Asia Pacific Development Center on Disability (APCD), Bangkok, Thailand
2. The International Council for Education of People with Visual Impairment (JECVI)
3. The Center for Research on Collaboratories and Technology Enhanced Learning Communities (COTELCO) at American University

The capacity of students is 25. The Nippon Foundation, as the planner and support organization, will give financial support that will be necessary for the management of the Institute in addition to provide necessary expenses, such as scholarship, travel expenses, to maximum 15 students from the ASEAN countries.

In the initial years the master’s degree will be conferred by American University School of International Service. We are planning to discuss double degree and joint degree agreements with other universities. The official title of the master’s degree will be Master of International Affairs in Comparative and International Disability Policy. Furthermore, all examinations and classes will be in English.

Applications is scheduled to start on May 9th (for details please refer to Enrollment Ceremony and On-campus classes are scheduled between July 18th through 29th.

From 10 AM, April 4, representatives of all the universities and organizations concerned will gather together for the signing ceremony followed by a press conference at 11:45 AM.

Inquiries cocerning the press conference should be made to
Media contact: Ms. Kessaree Wuttisakchaikul
Tel : +66 (0)2-849-6208
Posted by Y.Sasakawa at 09:00 | URL | comment(0)