Global Appeal 2020To end stigma and discrimination against persons affected by leprosy

The Nippon Foundation, with the endorsement of the International Paralympic Committee, held a ceremony on Monday, January 27, in Tokyo to launch the 15th Global Appeal to end stigma and discrimination against persons affected by leprosy. The Global Appeal has been held each year since 2006 to coincide with World Leprosy Day, observed on the last Sunday in January, and has been made with the endorsement of world leaders in a variety of fields including government, business, academia, and religion. In addition to IPC Vice President Duane Kale, this year’s ceremony was attended by Japan’s Minister of Health, Labour and Welfare Katsunobu Kato, former prime minister and President of the Tokyo Organising Committee of the Olympic and Paralympic Games (Tokyo 2020) Yoshiro Mori, and Prime Minister Shinzo Abe.

Group photo of Global Appeal 2020 participants, including Prime Minister Shinzo Abe (front row, center) and IPC Vice President Duane Kale (front row, second from left)

Speaking at the ceremony, The Nippon Foundation Chairman Yohei Sasakawa, who also serves as the World Health Organization Goodwill Ambassador for Leprosy Elimination and the Japanese government’s Goodwill Ambassador for the Human Rights of Persons Affected by Leprosy, referred to the Paralympic Games being held in Tokyo later this year, noting, “The might that the Paralympians will show in Tokyo will greatly affect people around the world and also create a futuristic mindset – an inclusive mindset – and this will be an occasion to disseminate this very very important message.” He thanked the IPC for its support and commented that working together with the IPC to fight discrimination and stigma, so that every person’s rights are respected, will make this an epochal year for the Foundation.

The Nippon Foundation Chairman Yohei Sasakawa

Next, Mr. Kale noted that persons affected by leprosy face forms of discrimination similar to those faced by persons with a disability, and added, “Nobody in the world should face discrimination just because they are different, especially in the year of 2020. Every person on this planet should be free to live their life with dignity and enjoy all his or her fundamental human rights. In this special year, when the eyes of the world will be on Tokyo, we are delighted to partner with The Nippon Foundation in issuing this global appeal from the host city, Tokyo, calling for an end to stigma and discrimination against persons affected by leprosy and in support of an inclusive society.”

IPC Vice President Duane Kale

The ceremony also included remarks by Kazuo Mori, President of Japan’s National Council of Hansen’s Disease Sanatorium Residents, and Chandra Prakash Kumar, who as a son of persons affected by leprosy, was raised in a leprosy colony in India and attended the ceremony as a representative of family members of persons affected by leprosy around the world. They were followed by a musical performance by the blind singer-songwriter Koshi Kishita and Paralympian and violinist Manami Ito, together with an interpretive dance using sign language by Ichiro Hashimoto.

Musical performance by violinist Manami Ito, singer-songwriter Koshi Kishita, and Ichiro Hashimoto (left to right)

The text of the Global Appeal 2020, which is a pledge by the IPC to work to end stigma and discrimination against leprosy, was then read by Yukinobu Ike, captain of Japan’s wheelchair rugby team, and Miki Matheson of The Nippon Foundation Paralympic Support Center, on behalf of all Para athletes. The ceremony concluded with remarks by Prime Minister Abe, who reflected on Japan’s past policies affecting persons affected by leprosy and their families, and said that the government will continue to work together with persons affected by leprosy and their families to eliminate discrimination and prejudice and promote their return to society. He expressed his hope that through the Tokyo Olympic and Paralympic Games, the power of sports will bring about changes in people’s behavior and make 2020 a year of progress toward the realization of a society where the dignity and fundamental freedoms of all people are respected.

Yukinobu Ike (left) and Miki Matheson (right)
Prime Minister Shinzo Abe

Text of Global Appeal 2020 to End Stigma and Discrimination Against Persons Affected by Leprosy

Leprosy is a curable disease.
But it is not just a simple health issue.

Many people affected by the disease are marginalized
because of stigma and discrimination.

Their opportunities in life are restricted, even after being cured,

Society’s prejudice has a negative impact on their families, too.

The International Paralympic Committee aspires to
a more inclusive society for people through Para sport.

It aims to challenge stereotypes and transform attitudes,
breaking down social barriers toward people with a disability.

Diversity and inclusion are core to what the IPC stands for.

We are committed to the creation of a just and equitable society.

In this Paralympic year 2020, we stand with persons affected by
leprosy in calling for an end to stigma and discrimination.

Together we seek to realize a society that respects the human
dignity and fundamental freedoms of all its members.


Public Relations Team
The Nippon Foundation

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