Press release: Business Disability Forum receives Mrs Akie Abe, spouse of Prime Minister Shinzō Abe of Japan

02 May 2017

London, UK: Business Disability Forum was honoured to receive Mrs Akie Abe, spouse of Prime Minister of Japan Shinzō Abe, and Mrs Tsuruoka, the wife of His Excellency Mr Koji Tsuruoka, the Ambassador of Japan, at their offices on 28 April 2017.

The delegation was joined by Mr Hirotada Ototake, one of the most successful sports writers in Japan, whose book on his experiences with disability, No One’s Perfect, remains a bestseller.

The purpose of the visit was for the delegation to find out more about Business Disability Forum’s work and the work being done to make society fairer for disabled people in the UK.

The delegation also hoped to gain an insight for the 2020 Summer Paralympics in Tokyo.

Mrs Akie Abe, Mrs Tsuruoka, and Mr Hirotada Ototake met with Business Disability Forum’s CEO Diane Lightfoot and Principal Consultant Helen Macfarlane, Microlink PC (UK) Ltd’s CEO Dr Nasser Siabi OBE, and Business Disability Forum Associate and entrepreneur Dr Phil Friend OBE, FRSA.

Diane talked to the delegation about the work Business Disability Forum does to ensure that disabled people are treated fairly, at work, as customers and in day-to-day life. Dr Nasser Siabi spoke about the work of Microlink in empowering employers to accommodate employees with disabilities and allow them to reach their full potential.

Business Disability Forum has supported the development of employer led networks in many countries including for example: the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, Australia, Ireland and Canada.

The organisation has also worked with countries to develop localised versions of the Disability Standard. This is a tool Business Disability Forum developed to help organisations measure and improve their performance on disability across the whole organisation. 

Business Disability Forum is currently working with its major Partner organisations to create a global Disability Standard, one that works for organisations operating around the world.

Diane Lightfoot said:

“We were honoured to receive Mrs Abe, Mrs Tsuruoka and Mr Ototake as part of their visit to the UK. There is some great work going on in Japan around disability and with the Tokyo Paralympics in 2020 there is a real chance to keep up the momentum in terms of challenging assumptions around disability and creating a society that is truly inclusive.

“At Business Disability Forum we know that businesses increasingly need to take an international view in terms of creating a disability-smart workplace – that is certainly the view we have and we aim to build on the work we have already done in sharing our expertise abroad.

“So understanding what disability-smart means on a global scale, and getting that insight, is critical.”





Notes to Editors

1.     Business Disability Forum represents around 300 organisations that employ 15% of the UK workforce. We have more than twenty-five years’ experience of equipping people with the expertise to create confident organisations by improving the understanding of disability in business, removing barriers and making adjustments for individuals.

2.     Our Disability Standard ( is the authoritative measure of how disability-smart an organisation is, providing a way to improve customer and employee experiences. The Disability Standard is kindly sponsored by Accenture.

3.     For more information, contact Samuel Buckley, Press Officer, by phone on 020 7403 3020 or by emailing