Do Not Let the Paralympic Torch Pass through Yamayuri-en Institution!

Do Not Let the Paralympic Torch Pass through Yamayuri-en Institution!

With 100 days to go until the Tokyo 2020 Olympic and Paralympic Games, the European Network on Independent Living – ENIL is appalled at the news that Tokyo Paralympic Torch will pass through the Yamayuri-en institution for disabled people, which is referred to as an example of “inclusive society”. The same institution was the site of the massacre in July 2016, with 19 people brutally murdered while they slept and a further 26 injured by a former staff member. 

ENIL stands in solidarity with the Independent Living movement in Japan, who have issued a statement protesting the lightning ceremony and raising awareness about the segregation of disabled people in Japan’s institutions. The statement is available below, in full. We fully support the arguments presented by  the Centre for Independent Living in Kobe, Japan against the Paralympic Torch passing through the Yamayuri-en institution:

– The place of murder is not the sanctuary. We should not use those who have been murdered for the festivity.
– Institution is not the answer to an Inclusive Society. Institution is a form of segregation.
– There have been abuses against residents with disabilities at Yamayuri-en before and after the murder case.
– This massacre is a form of genocide against disabled people.  The Japanese government said nothing about this genocide. Japan is not protecting the lives of disabled people.

ENIL has contacted the Mission of Japan to the European Union, and we invite others to reach out to the Japanese Embassies in their countries to express dismay about the idea that an institution warehousing disabled people is being promoted as the “origin of inclusive society” and celebrated in the run up to the Olympic and Paralympic Games.

As party to the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, Japan must move forward with the closure of institutions and ensure all disabled people have a right to live independently and being included in the community.

[Download the sample letter for the Japanese Embassies]
[Tweet the Japanese Ambassador to the EU @yasushi_m_Japon and @JapanMissionEU]

STATEMENT BY THE CENTER FOR INDEPENDENT LIVING IN KOBE, JAPAN:

Statement protesting the lightning ceremony of Tokyo Paralympic Torch at the Institution“Yamayuri-en”, site of the massacre of people with disabilities

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 have 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 is a statement of protest by people with disabilities against the violation of human rights and outrageous act.

“Yamayuri-en” is a segregated institution that held more than 150 people with disabilities under very poor conditions.  It is a very place that on July 26, 2016 –  19 people with intellectual disabilities were killed and 24 people with intellectual disabilities and 2 staff were injured by an ex-staff.

This worst murder case since the end of World War II horrified people with disabilities around the world and revealed serious discrimination.

Has our society geared by and for the non-disabled already 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.

There are abuse against residents with disabilities at Yamayuri-en before and even after the murder case.

People with disabilities are controlled and deprived of their dignity and human rights in a “detention camp” which can hardly be called a place of living.

How can such a place be the origin of the inclusive society?

This false way of demonstrating the will for the inclusive society is not only an insult to people with disability in Japan, but also leads to international recognition of Japan as a state which violates human rights, as the UN Convention for the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (UNCRPD) clearly states that institutionalization is a form of discrimination against people with disabilities.

No matter how openly operated to the community, the institutions are nothing but institutions as long as it locks up group of people with disabilities.

There are no persons with disabilities who is willing to be admitted in the institutions.

Those who have been killed at Yamayuri-en, their lives were taken instantly on the ground that “people with disabilities have no value to live.”

This case should be recognized as a genocide based on hatred against us, people with disabilities.

After the incident, however, Japan’s Prime Minister said nothing and took no action as a nation to confront with this genocide.

It brings us intense anger that, now again, even the death of people with disabilities are being dominated and used by the culture of the non-disabled and by the nation.

What is “Inclusive Society”, really? 

Have you ever once heard the voice of persons with disabilities? 

It is simply not possible to realize an “inclusive society” only by non-disabled individuals.

Therefore, we strongly protest the lightning ceremony of the Paralympic Games at “Yamayuri-en” and once again express that, with our very existence as people with disabilities, we confront the idea of eugenics.

Independent Living Center Ring Ring, President Etsuko Nakao

4 Comments

Julie Espinoza

April 14, 2021, 5:33 pm

Please listen to the views and feelings of people with disabilities. Put yourself in their shoes. Let’s move forward together.

Preston Kolb

April 14, 2021, 7:41 pm

I am against this lighting ceremony. It is disrespectful and insensitive to the disability community and promotes exclusivity, not inclusivity.

Dr Susie Balderston

April 16, 2021, 1:31 pm

We in England remember our murdered sisters and brothers from Yamayuri-en and are in solidarity with others who survive but who are still abused in segregated institutions. Please memorialise this place with grace and honour but do not celebrate what it symbolises (discrimination, violence and death – not inclusion) as part of the Olympics.
Thank you for listening.

ENIL Secretariat

May 7, 2021, 8:52 am

UPDATE: On May 6, according to interviews with city officials, Sagamihara City withdraws its plan to hold the site of the Tokyo Paralympic torch at the Yamayuri-en. According to the city officials, the location for another torch site has not yet been decided. Mayor Kentaro Motomura will announce the above at a press conference on May 7. So, a good result and thanks everyone for supporting!

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