The National Speech Contest for Students of Schools for the Blind and Visually Impaired, an annual competition for which Sumitomo Group Public Affairs Committee has been a special sponsor since 2003, was held on October 4, 2019, at Tokyo Metropolitan Bunkyo School for the Blind in Bunkyo Ward, Tokyo.
The speech contest, which has a long, distinguished history going all the way back to its inception in 1928, marked its 88th anniversary this year. In their excellent speeches, the nine finalists whose ages range from 14 to 52, 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.
Ms. Sakura Tsunematsu won the first prize in this year’s contest with a speech titled “White Rabbit” She is a first-year student in the senior high school department of Fukushima Prefectural Support School for the Visually Impaired where she is studying massage. She has albinism, a condition due to a lack of melanin. Her hair and skin are white and she is visually impaired. She used to dye her hair black because people laughed at her for her pallid appearance but she stopped dying her hair when she embarked on her studies. Noting the persistence of prejudice and discrimination in society concerning people with disabilities, she shared with the audience her desire to change society for the better by reaching out to people in her own way.
The Sumitomo Group Public Affairs Committee’s activities are inspired by the Group message, “Passing important 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.