I attended a ceremony held at a Tokyo hotel on January 27 in which The Nippon Foundation and the International Paralympic Committee (IPC) jointly launched the 15th Global Appeal, asking people all over the world to “stand with persons affected by leprosy in calling for an end to stigma and discrimination” associated with the disease.
The annual ceremony brought together some 240 people, including persons affected by leprosy and their family members and those with disabilities, from Japan and overseas. It was also joined by such dignitaries as Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, Health, Labor and Welfare Minister Katsunobu Kato, Mr. Yoshiro Mori, former Prime Minister and now President of the Tokyo Organizing Committee of the Olympic and Paralympic Games, and Mr. Duane Kale, Vice President of the IPC.
Speaking as Chairman of The Nippon Foundation, World Health Organization Goodwill Ambassador for Leprosy Elimination and the Japanese Government Goodwill Ambassador for the Human Rights of Persons Affected by Leprosy, I said in my opening remarks: “I am convinced that the performance of Paralympians at the Tokyo Games will impress people around the globe and send an important message that the world must become an inclusive society.”
“In this Paralympic Year of 2020, we have been given truly powerful support and a wonderful opportunity to act with the International Paralympic Committee” to fight any kind of stigma and discrimination and aim for a society in which everyone is respected.
IPC Vice President Kale said: “This summer, I have no doubt that Tokyo 2020 will deliver a spectacular Paralympic Games,” which will be watched by cumulative television audience of around 4.25 billion people.
“Difference is a strength and diversity should be celebrated. Every person on this planet should be free to live their lives with dignity and enjoy all his or her fundamental human rights,” he noted, adding: “In this special year when the eyes of the world will be on Tokyo, we are delighted to partner with The Nippon Foundation in issuing this historical appeal from the host city, calling for ending stigma and discrimination against persons affected by leprosy and supporting an inclusive society.”
Representing family members of leprosy patients was Mr. Chandra Prakash Kumar, who came from India to join the event. Based on his experience of being born and brought up in a leprosy colony, he stressed the importance of educating people, especially children, in order to remove stigma and discrimination against those affected by leprosy.
Global Appeal 2020 was launched jointly by The Nippon Foundation and the International Paralympic Committee (IPC) at a ceremony held in Tokyo on January 27, 2020, which was joined by Prime Minister Shinzo Abe (front row, center) and Health, Labor and Welfare Minister Katsunobu Kato (front row, third from right). Making opening remarks at the ceremony.Prime Minister Shinzo Abe said: “I have a high hope that the message of this gathering towards an inclusive society will reach the entire world.”Mr. Yoshiro Mori, former Prime Minister and now President of the Tokyo Organizing Committee of the Olympic and Paralympic Games.
(To be continued)