From Barrier Free Japan with extracts from The Asahi Shimbun
August 31 2021
The Tokyo Paralympics began on the 24th. The theme of the opening ceremony was ‘WE HAVE WINGS,’ and it represented the process of a “small airplane with one wing,” performed by a girl in a wheelchair, taking off into the sky.
Yukinori Tamaki, 53, a social worker who has cerebral palsy and appears on NHK E-TV’s ‘Baribara’ a TV show about disability issues in Japan, praised the production, but said, “There is a way of life for those who cannot fly. ”
What are the thoughts of Mr. Tamaki, who has continued to convey the message of a diverse society through laughter in a program that targets “all minorities who have difficulty in living?”
Q: How did you feel when you saw the opening ceremony of the Paralympics?
A: Compared to the opening ceremony of the Olympics, it was much better because the story was more consistent. However, the part about the “small airplane with one wing” that took off at the end with the support of everyone, I felt that it would have been fine if it didn’t fly.
“It’s not a matter of “it’s an airplane, so it has to fly”, but “if it can’t fly, it doesn’t matter if it can’t fly. I don’t mean to say that it’s good or bad because it’s a matter of direction and how you feel about it, but if I were directing the film, I think I would have made the story like that.
There is a view that people with disabilities are inferior to normal people. We don’t think that way, but unconsciously we start to think that we have to be this way. It’s better to be able to walk than to not be able to walk, or to be able to use your hands than to not be able to use them. But if you can’t fly, you have your own way of life and role to play.
In reality, there are many things that cannot be done even if you try hard. I often say that when I want to be a surgeon because I have a limp, people stop me and say, “You can’t do it. Of course, it’s not right to deny one’s dream, but this is about aptitude. There are many things you can’t do even if you force yourself, and even if you can’t become a surgeon, there are other ways to live. If they wanted to show that there are possibilities and various ways to live, they could have shown that it’s okay if you can’t fly.
What does Mr. Tamaki think about the Paralympics itself? In the latter half of the interview, he talks about what is important for “diversity and harmony” while sharing his own experiences.
Q: How do you view the Paralympics itself?
A:I wonder how much there is a need to separate the Olympics from the Paralympics.