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Home  »  Resource Center  »  Country Profiles  »  White Paper - Web Accessibility Policy Making  »  Country Profile - Japan



Web Accessibility Policy Making:
An International Perspective

This document is an excerpt from the G3ict White Paper “Web Accessibility Policy Making: An International Perspective,” (Revised Edition 2012) researched and edited by Nirmita Narasimhan of Centre for Internet & Society, India, in collaboration with accessibility and disability policy experts from around the world. The paper seeks to identify some of the initiatives and best practices which have been adopted by 14 countries and the European Union as a first step towards policy formulation for countries.

You can read the full report here. View the complete list of publications and reports here.

Japan

Japan does not have any legislation around accessibility but has specified its accessibility policies for both web and other electronic infrastructure in the form of industrial standards. These standards are applicable to both national and local government agencies but do not have legislative backing for implementation. Japan has also faced additional difficulties on account of the complexity of the Japanese language and script as compared to English. Japan is a signatory to the UNCRPD.

1. Overview

Japan has advanced several initiatives over the years to lay down standards for web accessibility. These have been complicated by the nature of the Japanese language; as a phonetic language with a large number of characters, it is not as suited to the WCAG, which are more oriented towards alphabet-based languages like English. Japan does not have any legislation covering accessibility, but the guidelines for accessibility have been laid down in the form of an industrial standard by the Japanese Standards Association.

  • Japanese Industrial Standard (JIS) X 8341:

In November 2001, the International Organization for Standardization (ISO) and the International Electro technical Commission (IEC) jointly issued "ISO/IEC GUIDE 71 Guidelines for standards developers to address the needs of older persons and persons with disabilities".

In 2004, building on ISO/IEC GUIDE 71 and JIS Z 8071, the Japanese Industrial Standard for web accessibility was released - "JIS X 8341: Guidelines for older persons and persons with disabilities-Information and communications equipment, software and services."

The JIS is not legally binding, and its guidelines are subject to substantial interpretation. Currently, five components of JIS X 8341 have been issued:

  • Part 1 (JIX X 8341-1: 2004) "Common Guidelines" (May 2004)
  • Part 2 (JIS X 8341-2: 2004) "Information processing equipment" (May 2004)
  • Part 3 (JIS X 8341-3: 2004) "Web content" (June 2004)
  • Part 4 (JIS X 8341-4: 2005) "Telecommunications equipment" (October 2005)
  • Part 5 (JIS X 8341-5: 2006) "Office equipment" (January 2006)

The JIS X 8341-3 covered Japanese language specific issues and also covered some aspects of usability. It was expected to function as a basis to ensure the web accessibility of government websites in the central and local governments in Japan. However, a widespread lack of understanding of the JIS X 8341-3 among the local governments in Japan further led in December 2005 to the formulation of "Operational Models to Improve Accessibility of Public Websites" in order to supplement the JIS X 8341-3. The JIS X 8341-3 was updated in 2010 and is now compliant with WCAG 2.0.

In order to improve the current state of web content accessibility, the government also created the "Web Accessibility Working Group" to develop a new accessibility evaluation method, system and improved web content using the new system.

  • New IT Reform Strategy: In January 2006, the "New IT Reform Strategy" was released as a new general policy program of the IT society in Japan, and one of the key policy issues of this new strategy of 2006 is "an IT society that adopts universal design." Concrete measures to realize "universal design" included "the creation of guidelines for the standardization of labelling and methods of operation of devices and terminals" and the "promotion of userfriendly websites.

2. Compliance with WCAG:

Not wholly compliant, but some guidelines have been borrowed from the WCAG.

3. Applicability:

The Guidelines and Standards are mandatory for national and local government agencies and can be followed on a voluntary basis by private companies.

4. Protocol for Evaluating and Monitoring:

Links:
1. JIS X 8341-3 - JIS Web Content Accessibility Guideline
http://www.comm.twcu.ac.jp/~nabe/data/JIS-WAI/
http://www.webaim.org/teitac/wiki/JIS_X8341-5.php

2. Research and improving web accessibility in Japan
http://barrierfree.nict.go.jp/accessibility/proof/event/spie/yokou/index.html

3. ICT accessibility standardization and its use in policy measures
http://www.access-board.gov/sec508/refresh/teitac4th/yamada.ppt