January 24th 2019
SAITAMA, Japan — A 27-year-old pop idol with a physical disability is set to appear in a movie by a nonprofit organization whose mission is to encourage people with disabilities or diseases to actively participate in society.
The NPO aims to complete the movie by year-end.
Tomoka Igari, a native of Saitama Prefecture, has continued the busy life of an idol even after becoming a wheelchair user due to an accident.
“I want a variety of people to see the movie, whether they have a disability or not,” Igari said.
Igari is a member of the underground pop idol group “Kamen-Joshi” (masked girls). In April last year, she suffered a spinal cord injury when a strong wind caused a sign to fall onto her on a street in Tokyo. As a result, both of her lower legs were paralyzed and she began to use a wheelchair. She continues to undergo rehabilitation while performing live in a wheelchair on stage.
In the movie, titled “Runway,” lead character Nao aims to become an actress but winds up spending her days in a wheelchair after suffering an accident. However, after meeting other people with disabilities and patients suffering from intractable diseases, she comes to find a new life goal. The film is being produced by Maebashi-based NPO Barrierfree Film Partners.
Igari will play a character called Hinata, who also uses a wheelchair and who encourages the depressed Nao with her positive attitude while undergoing rehabilitation at the same hospital.
Film director Ko Honekawa, 45, the president of the NPO, asked Igari to appear in the film because he believed her resolve to continue as an idol after her accident resonated well with the purpose of his movie.
“Just like I was supported by others, I’ll do my best to faithfully portray a character who supports the lead character,” Igari said.Speech