By Barrier Free Japan
April 13 2021
KOBE– A disability rights group is protesting against a Paralympic Torch Ceremony that is scheduled to be held near a care home where people with disabilities were killed in 2016.
A care facility for people with disabilities in Sagamihara, Kanagawa prefecture, where one of Japan’s worst mass killings took place in July 2016, is expected to host a Paralympic flame lighting event.
19 people with disabilities were killed at the ‘Yamayuri-en’ care home in Sagamihara, with 26 injured.
The flame is intended by the organizers to symbolize Sagamihara’s wish to eliminate all forms of discrimination in line with the Paralympic movement’s values, according to the officials, who are outlining their plans to the Tokyo Paralympic organizing committee and the Kanagawa prefectural government, which runs the facility.
However some disability rights groups disagree with the idea of having a Paralympic event near a place where so many people with disabilities were killed or injured.
The President of ‘Independent Living Center Ring Ring’ in Kobe, Etsuko Nakao, made a press release on March 29 saying:
“We are a disability rights organization advocating for community living no matter how severe the disabilities are. We achieve Independent Living through 24-hour personal assistance support and we have been working to raise awareness about the existence of persons with disabilities.
According to news reports on March 21, Kanagawa Prefecture, Sagamihara-City, and Kanagawa Kyodokai, made decision to bring a flame lightening ceremony of the 2020 Tokyo Paralympic Games to an institution “Yamayuri-en.”
We have lost our words by learning such horrible news.
Furthermore, knowing that they are claiming that “Yamayuri-en to become the origin of Inclusive Society” – we have nothing but deep indignation about this idea.
Even the media seem to be praising this whole concept by the way they are reporting.
This was worst murder case since the end of World War II horrified people with disabilities around the world and revealed serious discrimination.
Has our society been geared by and for the non-disabled already and forgot that massacre?
A media report says that “The torch ceremony will be held at “Yamayuri-en” to demonstrate both nationally and internationally the strong determination for the inclusive society.
However, institutionalization is totally opposite of the inclusive society and they are the very place that segregates and denies the existence of people with disabilities.”