Oyama took on a challenge 56 years ago when he employed two people. The proportion of people with disabilities among employees at Nihon Rikagaku Industry is now more than 70%. All of these employees have intellectual disabilities, and around half have severe disabilities. The factory has no manual. Many ingenious adjustments have been made to set up an environment suited to the employees’ capacity for understanding, such as color coding the containers and the weights for the scales in order to enable the identification and measurement of the raw materials, and using hourglasses to check times.

 

By working in ordinary jobs, outside care facilities, they have attained precious happiness through receiving praise and being seen as useful and necessary. They earn an income and live in group homes, achieving independence from institutions and their parents.

 

The statutory ratio of employment of people with disabilities as mandated under the Act on Employment Promotion etc. of Persons with Disabilities, 2% for companies with 50 employees, currently remains unachieved overall, with more than half of applicable companies failing to meet the target. To care for a person with intellectual disabilities entirely in an institution between the ages of 20 and 60 costs over 200 million yen. This is public money used to keep these people away from society. This means that in the case of Nihon Rikagaku Industry, the actual example of the five employees who worked there past the age of 60 has already saved public finances a billion yen. If the state increased subsidies, more companies would employ people with disabilities, and those people, their parents, their communities, the country, and the companies could share in the profits. The call for an “all-work society,” which does not exclude those with disabilities, and in which all people can come together to play useful roles, is gathering empathy and agreement.

 

Yasuhiro Oyama

Born in Tokyo in 1932. Graduated from Chuo University Faculty of Law, and joined Nihon Rikagaku Industry Co., Ltd., founded by his father, Yozo. Became company president in 1974. Was involved with the launch of the Japan Association of Employers of Persons with Severe Disabilities in 1989, and became the first chairman. Handed over the role of company president to his eldest son, Takahisa Oyama, in 2008, becoming company chairman. Received the Eiichi Shibusawa Prize the following year. Besides this Kawasaki Factory in Kanagawa, he also established Bibai Factory in Biabi city, Hokkaido.

Cooperation: Nihon Rikagaku Industry co.,ltd.

Translation: Media Research, Inc.

Spirit and Spine
‘Kitohone’

created by
THE SPIRIT AND SPINE
CREATIVE FORCE,Tokyo

project direction
Gaku Okubo (ISUKE INC.)
photography
Yoshitomo Tanaka (Vivot)
site design
ISUKE INC. and ICA
title calligraphy
Kenryo Hara (Kikkokai)