July 26th 2018
KOBE – On Sunday 22nd July 2018 a disability group held a demonstration in Chuo-ward, Kobe in Hyogo Prefecture.
The demonstration was organized by the group ‘Remember 7.26 Kobe Action’ to commemorate the two year anniversary of the Sagamihara killings, when on July 26th 2016, 19 disabled residents were stabbed to death at a care home in Sagamihara, Yokohama.
The group’s Facebook page says its aim is “…to continue to memorialize and question discrimination against the disabled and the eugenic ideas behind it.” The group is also interested in highlighting the rights of disabled people in general, as issues such as forced sterilization are being talked about as civil cases against the government for compensation are filed.
Since many prefectures in the Kansai area of Japan, including Hyogo prefecture, had a policy allowing physicians working at publicly owned hospitals to destroy medical records after a certain time; the exact number of those that may have been forcibly sterilized is unknown.
The group marched through the Kobe Motomachi shopping street, often chanting phrases such as ‘disabled people are not unhappy’. This was possibly a reference to the Sagamihara killings; as the accused, Satoshi Uematsu asserted that ‘disabled people can only cause misery.’
People participating in the march included people with physical disabilities, as well as people with intellectual disabilities and those with mental health problems. Many of those marching came from Osaka and Hyogo prefecture, although there were also some from as far away as Hiroshima.
Due to the heat wave affecting Japan, people were on hand to offer those marching cups of water as well as spare wheelchairs. On the day, the amount of people at the demonstration was thought to be 145 people but other sources say 150 attended.