The Sumitomo Group Public Affairs Committee was a special sponsor of the 86th National Speech Contest for Students of Schools for the Blind and Visually Impaired (organized by The Mainichi Newspapers, The Braille Mainichi, etc.) held on October 6, 2017 at Hiroshima Prefectural Hiroshima Central School for Special Support. The speech contest, which has a long, distinguished history going all the way back to its inception in 1928, marked its 86th anniversary this year. In their excellent speeches, the nine contestants whose ages range from 14 to 56, selected from seven regions covering Japan, discussed their challenges and aspirations, as well as what motivates them in their quest to fulfill their great potential as valued members of society.
Mr. Tatsuya Mochizuki won the first prize in this year's contest. He is in his second year at Shizuoka Prefectural Hamamatsu Special Support School for the Visually Impaired, a high school, where he is studying manual therapy. He was born with poor vision owing to pigmentary degeneration of the retina. One day, when feeling particularly miserable, he heard a song at a performance given by a singer-songwriter that alluded to rainfall. "I know who's making rain fall in my heart," a poignant line from the song, made him recognize that he was the author of his own fate and he determined to exercise his will power. In his speech, he talked about the change in his attitude, sometimes calmly and sometimes forcefully. During his speech, one could hear heavy rain drumming on the roof, creating a powerful atmosphere that bonded speaker and audience.
This year was the fifteenth time the Sumitomo Group Public Affairs Committee has supported the Speech Contest of the Schools for the Blind and Visually Impaired, an annual competition that is an eloquent practical expression of our group message?"Handing aspirational values from people to people". We relish the opportunity to contribute to the success of this contest in bringing the words and example of these life-affirming inspirational individuals to the attention of the wide audience they so richly deserve.