Long considered objects of pity and welfare assistance, people with disabilities in South Korea and Japan are increasingly treated as rights-bearers. Through activism, litigation, and involvement in international treaty negotiations, Koreans and Japanese with disabilities spurred reforms that created new anti-discrimination protections and obligations to provide reasonable accommodations, access, employment, and social supports. These policy changes also signal a notably more legalistic approach to governance, particularly in South Korea, because they include more detailed rules and formal rights, more enforcement mechanisms like fines, and better recourse to judicial or other dispute resolution bodies.

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