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Yohei Sasakawa
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Launched in India, My Book on Leprosy Depicts My Approach to Life (2) [2020年03月13日(Fri)]
Children from a leprosy colony sing at the book launch event in New Delhi on January 30, 2020.

I left the business world when I was 40 years old. I wanted some day to devote myself, as my father did, to humanitarian activities−and especially leprosy work. The experience of that day at the South Korean leprosy hospital left an indelible mark on my memory.

We only live once on this planet, so how I lived was a matter of vital importance to me. With that in mind, I began to lead my life with an awareness of death. At the end of my life, how could I go to my grave with a sense of fulfillment. I was determined to live so that I wouldn’t leave behind any regrets that I should have done more.

“All’s well that ends well,” wrote William Shakespeare in the early 17th century. Death is the ultimate leveler−everyone dies in the end, including the rich and powerful.

If someone in power approaches death in an unhappy frame of mind, was his or her life happy? If the super-rich are embroiled in toxic family relations just before they die, or find themselves regretting they did not do more for society, were their lives happy?  

Therefore, I go to work every day in preparation for my death. Taking my cue from Shakespeare’s words, I want to reach the end of my days, believing that I have done all I could do and that it was a happy life. No matter how daunting the troubles I have faced at times, I would like to die convinced that mine was a happy life.

There is an old doctrine concerning the inseparability of knowledge and practice, stressing that “a person with knowledge should act” and that “knowledge is necessary to act.” There are many men of words who don’t act in this democratic society; but it is my approach to life to act when I have knowledge.

It is my conviction that my “battlefield” is where the problems lie as that is where solutions can be found. I can never solve a problem just by reading reports coming from my subordinates in a comfortable air-conditioned office.

It is my approach to life that problems are clarified and solutions come out only when I am at the frontline in person. This is depicted in detail in this book and I would be most grateful if you read it.

Having chosen to follow in my father’s footsteps and pursue his work in leprosy, I have found myself in a position where I can draw attention to the stigma and discrimination that persons affected by leprosy face and work to see that their dignity and human rights are respected. Through my travels, I have met and talked with countless such individuals around the world, and sought to create opportunities for them to make their voices heard and determine for themselves how they wish to lead their lives. As “an 81-year-old young man” this is something that gives me a great sense of fulfillment and I am thankful for the chance to lead a fruitful life.


I was extremely grateful to all those who made the event happen.

Posted by Y.Sasakawa at 09:00 | LEPROSY | URL | comment(0)