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The Prime Minister in Action

“Think Leprosy Now!” Campaign Global Appeal 2016

January 26, 2016

Photograph of the Prime Minister delivering an address

Photograph of the Prime Minister delivering an address

  • Photograph of the Prime Minister delivering an address
  • Photograph of the commemorative photograph session

Photograph of the commemorative photograph session

Photograph of the commemorative photograph session

[Provisional Translation]

Prime Minister Shinzo Abe attended the “Think Leprosy Now!” Campaign Global Appeal 2016 held in Tokyo.

The Prime Minister said in his address,

“I would like to offer a heartfelt welcome to all of the participants here today, who have come from countries all over the world.

I attended this gathering last year as well. The reason that I am again joining you is because we should never forget the tremendous human rights abuses that have been perpetrated against people with leprosy, and because we must not let such things happen ever again.

Leprosy does not spread easily and treatment methods have been established. If appropriate treatment is carried out, the disease can be treated without any after-effects occurring.

However, in Japan, as a result of inadequate quarantine policies, serious limitations and restrictions were placed on the human rights of leprosy patients, and this past served to strengthen societal prejudices and discrimination.

Reflecting on this history, Japan has offered apologies and assistance to former leprosy patients, and implemented measures to recover their honor and help them re-integrate into society.

Recently, along with the continued aging of recovering leprosy patients, it is important that we secure medical and nursing care in treatment centers and ensure stability in the lives of rehabilitating patients and their families. We are striving to secure medical and nursing care, enhance financial support, and enable these recovering patients to continue to live a rich life with peace of mind.

Chairman Sasakawa, who has led the global appeal for today's event, is aiming for the elimination of prejudice and discrimination against leprosy patients. He has taken the initiative in visiting various places around the world, and hand in hand with leprosy patients, continues to provide vigorous encouragement.
Additionally, initiatives for the free distribution of the pharmaceuticals needed for the treatment of leprosy have served as a great force for the control of leprosy around the world. I would like to express my profound gratitude to Mr. Sasakawa for his passionate endeavors to address leprosy-related issues over many years.

My wife too, shares the thoughts of Chairman Sasakawa on this matter, and has been helping for some time with efforts to spread information in order to eliminate discrimination against leprosy patients.

This year’s global appeal has received the approval of Junior Chamber International chapters across the world. I have heard that a panel discussion will be held on the theme of “Views of Younger Generations–What We Can Learn from Leprosy.”

Japan is also hosting symposiums organized every year by junior high and high school students as well as distributing educational pamphlets to all junior high students across the country. Through these and other efforts, we are promoting initiatives to firmly pass down a correct and clear recognition of our history related to leprosy to the next generation.

I would like to close my remarks by expressing hope that this gathering will be an opportunity for everyone around the world to correctly understand leprosy, and that having done so, their thoughts and actions on this matter will greatly eliminate prejudice and discrimination against leprosy patients.”

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