Sunday, June 14, 2009

Japan: Visually impaired man voted member of assembly!

A visually impaired independent won election as a municipal assembly member here on Sunday. Shoichi Ochino, 61, will apparently be the first visually challenged candidate to become a representative of a local authority in Hokkaido, according to the Hokkaido federation of the blind.

Ochino, a manager of an acupuncture and massage clinic, was born in Chitose and lost his eyesight at the age of 9. He started his own clinic in 1973, and gained qualification as a care manager in 1998, becoming the first person in Hokkaido to pass the test in Braille. Ochino decided to file his candidacy based on the belief that "there must be particular needs only known by the visually impaired."

A total of 29 candidates ran in the city assembly election. Ochino also staged a street campaign, giving speeches as he was driven around in a campaign car. Based on his experience as a health care manager, Ochino won public support after pledging to enhance the city's assistance to patients with dementia and seniors living alone.

"The applause and cheers I received from supporters encouraged me. I want to take initiatives to solve the problems seniors and the disabled are facing," Ochino enthusiastically said.


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