Letters of thanks from Sichuan, China stricken by the earthquake, reach the school for the deaf in Yamanashi Prefecure

The large earthquake struck Sichuan in China before the Olympic Games started in Beijing.

"Thank you for support."
"Revive without fail."
"With your warm love, we will do our best."
"We will be certainly all right."

These were written in eight letters of thanks from the Chengdu City special education school, which the prefectural school for the deaf in Kofu City, Yamanashi Prefecture recently received.

Because the Japanese students were glad to receive the letters with drawings of the national flag of Japan and China, heart marks, etc. in vivid color, Masaru Hirose, principal, says, "Our school is expecting to develop it into a new exchange that crosses the waters."

The students who learned the earthquake disaster by news quickly called their friends, parents and related groups for the donation, saying that they wanted to help the people who were in the trouble. The donation of about 166,000 yen was collected and sent with a letter to encourage the victims in July.

The letters of thanks from the Chinese special education school also explained the situation: "There was no student who had done a big injury though all of sudden the ground and mountains shook intensely, and the schoolhouse was destroyed. The letter from Japan not only warmed our mind but also changed the sadness of loss into power." It also said that they wished the friendship would continue in the future.

After having read the letter from China, Mina Aikawa (16), vice chairman of the student body government, said "We were glad that our thoughtfulness was well received."

The letters from China are posted in the schoolhouse. Mihoko Ueno, head teacher, said, "We hope to deepen the friendship exchange by correspondences in the future."

Source: Japanese edition

Local school for the deaf shows the classes to the public in Nagasaki Prefecture

The Sasebo School, a branch school of the Nagasaki Prefectural School for the Deaf in Sasebo City in a southern part of Japan demonstrated the classes to the public on October, 28, 2008.

This event is held twice every year to promote the public understanding of the deaf education. About 30 individuals, including hearing school teachers and sign language students, observed the classes.

The deaf children are enrolled from kindergarten through junior high school; ten students in total. Some children commute from Imari City, Saga Prefecture, a neighboring area, besides northern cities in the Nagasaki prefecture such as Sasebo City and Saza-cho, too.

The theme of the kindergarten class was to make animals with the paper clay, etc. The children visited the city subtropics flora and fauna garden on the previous day, and made animals such as giraffes and elephants that impressed them.

Moreover, the elementary school children had a physical education class and the drawing and manual arts class, respectively, while there were a science class and a social studies class for the junior high school students.

The school plans to hold a "presentation day" on November 9. The children will demonstrate a play and the chorus.

The school also offers the counseling service related to deafness at any time.

Source: Mainichi Shimbun, Oct. 29, 2008
(Japanese edition)

Deaf dental technician won the best award at the national skills competition held in Chiba

The 30th National Skills Competition for Persons with Disabilities was held in Chiba City, a neighboring city in the Tokyo metropolitan area, on October 24-26, 2008. It was sponsored by the Employment Support Institute for the Aged and Persons with Disabilities, and Chiba Prefecture.

About 250 persons with disabilities participated from nationwide in 20 items such as the computer operation and needlework, etc.

Harue Murakami (46), a deaf dental technician from Morioka City in a northern part of Japan, participated in one of the items called "dental technology." She competed with other 12 technicians, working on an assignment for 5 hours; teeth of a 35-year-old female to be matched and covered with plastic materials.

On a ceremony on October 26, she was awarded the gold prize from the the Minister of Health, Labour and Welfare. It was the third challenge for her. Last year she was given an effort prize.

After finishing a hearing high school, Murakami, who is deaf since childhood, studied at the Dental School for the Deaf, Tsukuba University in Chiba Prefecture for three years.

She works for the Fujitec dental laboratory in Morioka City, Iwate Prefecture.

Source: Iwate Daily, Oct. 27, 2008

"Sign language performance contest" in Kyoto attracts local people

The 11th Sign Language Play Contest" was held in Sakyo Ward, Kyoto City, one of the most ancient cities in Japan, on October 26.

The Kyoto Kamo Lions Club of Sakyo Ward and the Kyoto City Society of the Deaf sponsored the event. The annual contest aims to introduce culture through sign language to the public.

Five groups of about 100 deaf and hearing residents from Kyoto Prefecture performed their own original play respectively that they had practiced hard.

For example, members of the Kyoto City Society performed based on a folk tale titled the Tale of Bamboo-Cutter. The Moon Princess, who was a baby when the bamboo cutter found her in a bamboo. He and his wife brought her up. As she became a beautiful woman, she had to return to the Moon. In the play she was assumed to be deaf.

Other play by members of the theatrical circle of Ryukoku University was a unique story where the ghost appeared.

About 600 citizens enjoyed the plays in sign language which feelings were often put and the tempo was drawn out.

Source: Kyoto Shimbun, Oct. 27, 2008

Princess Kiko at the National Meeting of the Deaf Women in Tokyo

The 38th National Meeting of the Deaf Women was held in Shibuya Ward, Tokyo on October 25, 2008. Princess Kiko, the wife of Prince Akishinonomiya, the younger brother of the Crown Prince in Japan.

The annual meeting, which is held by the Women Section under the Japanese Federation of the Deaf, aims to offer a platform to discuss difficulties and troubles that deaf women are faced in everyday life and to find a way to solve these.

Princess Kiko gave a keynote speech in sign language. She told the audience, "When I was a university student, I started learning sign language. Since then I have kept the important material used, because it was written explicitly about deaf people, sign language and interpreting."

She showed the audience the sign language book she used for the sign language circle during her college time, saying that it was a starting point that made her keep learning sign language. The audience gave her big applause.

Source: TBS, Oct. 25, 2008

Cultural Seminar for the Deaf to be held in Tokyo in November

The Cultural Seminar for the Deaf at a unversity level took place at a college in Tokyo a few times a month from May through July, 2008.

The lecturers from the various fields were all Deaf. Both Deaf and hearing individuals attended the seminar, which was conducted throughly in JSL and no interpreting was provided.

It was highly acclaimed and will be held again on November 23-24, 2008.

The tentative topics selected from the last Seminar for this event are as follows:

November 23:

-Dance: Deaf and Dancing
Dr. Sakai Shizuku (dancer, Ph.D in Arts from the Tokyo University of Arts)

-Learning English from the original titles of English films
Masanobu Sano (Translator who won a publishing literature award for his translation of Oiver Sacs' "Seeing Voices-A Journey into the World of the Deaf")

-My Life: This road, that road, and this road yet
Michio Yagi (western-style artist whose works have been admitted to an annual art exhibition since 1980. He has won many awards including the Figaro prize. )

-Sign language play by the Japanese Theater of the Deaf

November 24:

-Social history from a viewpoint of the ancient Roman era
Ami Mori (history researcher and translator)

-DNA, gene, amino acid, and protein
Dr. Akio Suemori (chief researcher, National Institute of Advanced Industrial Science and Technology. Ph.D of Agriculture from the University of Tokyo)

-The History of Facsimile Machine
Tomotake Kinoshita (doctor candidate majoring in engineering-social space system at Yokohama National University Graduate School)

-Persons with Disabilities in Developing Countries
Soya Mori (chief researcher and Development School professor of the Institute of Developing Economies )

First Asia-Pacific Deaf Baseball Tournament to be held in South Korea in October

According to the news release by the All Tokyo Rubber-Baseball League of Deaf Adults, the 1st Asia-Pacific Deaf Baseball Tournament will be held in South Korea on October 25-27, 2008.

The sponsor is the South Korean Deaf Baseball League while the All Tokyo Rubber-Baseball League of Deaf Adults, the Chinese Athletic Association of Persons with Disabilities, and others are co-sponsors.

The Chamushil Athletics Field and the Mocton Stadium are planned as the venues.

Each baseball team from South Korea, Japan, Taiwan, and China will compete for the best one in Asia.

The Japanese group of 19 players and the manager will be sent for the third time, following the Japan-Taiwan Friendship Baseball Game held in Taiwan and Japan, respectively in 2005 and 2006.

Regional conference of the Deaf-Blind to be held in Matsue City in November

The Chugoku-Shikoku Regional Conference of the Deaf-blind will be held in Matsue City, Simane Prefecture, a western part of Japan, on November 15-16, 2008.

The preparation is underway by the organizing committee. It consists of only the Deaf-blind members, which is a rare case. They are unusually enthusiastic as part of social participation.

The regional conference started 13 years ago. There was no organizations of the Deaf-blind in the Chuogoku and Shikoku regions until the first organization of the Deaf-blind was formed in Okayama Prefecture. They have continued the study meeting and the fellowships exchange.

Shimane Prefecture will have the regional conference for the first time. The participants will not only attend the conference for two days, but also enjoy sightseeing in Matsue City and meet the local residents.

The organizing committee started with nine Deaf-blind members in June, 2008. They all belong to the "Shimane Deaf-Blind Society" where they learn how to use braille every Wednesday. With two interpreters, each has been working on the conference program such as opening ceremonies, the sessions, and social activities.

Because the level of the disability and how to take communications are different, the members spend time in the discussion. Various methods of communications like the FM auditory system, note-taking, tactic method, etc. are used during the meeting.

Masatoshi Yamamoto (36), chairman of the Society, expects the success in the conference, saying that meeting with different individuals would give happiness though the preparation was not easy.

About 250 persons including those who support the Deaf-blind are expected to participate on that day. The netsuke of the corbicula from which the members made will be given as a souvenir.

Source: Sanin-Chuou Shimpo, Oct. 18, 2008

Ishikawa Prefectural School for the Deaf celebrates the 100th anniversary

Ishikawa Prefectural School for the Deaf located in Kanazawa City, a northwestern part of Japan, celebrated its 100th anniversary since the establishment.

The ceremony took place at the school on October 19. About 470 individuals, including the students, parents, and members of the alumni association, joined the celebration.

Kisaku Sakide, principal, gave a speech, saying "We all the staff will make an effort to give a good education to the students to survive through the 21st century."

Representing the students, a high school junior responded by stating, "Every of us will work hard so that our school might prosper in the future."

The middle school students demonstrated the performance with a large Japanese drum (a length of about one meter and in a diameter of 80 cm). It gained a praise from Governor Masanori Tanimoto, one of the special guests. "It was a splendid performance." The middle school students will compete in the Japanese Drum Contest for Junior High Schools on November 23, 2008.

Hiroe Ohashi, a deaf actress and singer, gave a keynote speech. The topic was her own life.

Source: Chunichi Shimbun, Oct. 20

11th annual conference on Japanese Deaf history to be held in Kobe City in November

The Japanese Deaf History Society will hold the 11th Japanese Deaf History Conference in Kobe City in Hyogo Prefecture, near Osaka which is the second largest city in Japan, on November 1, 2008, 12:30-20:40.

The Society aims to research untold parts of the Deaf history in Japan, to promote researches on Deaf history, to offer a place of the information exchange, and to contribute to the society.

Presentations will be planned as follows:

1. On Deaf factory workers in Amagasaki City in Hyoko Prefecture during the WWII

2. Review on the record by the principal of a private school for the deaf and blind regarding his visit to the Kyoto Prefectural School for the Deaf and Blind, the first school for the deaf in Japan

3. About Naganobu "Dummy" Takahashi, a Deaf sword craftman during the samurai time

4. On life of Kichinosuke Nishikawa, first principal of Shiga Prefectural Oral School based on documents

5. History of the education for children with disabilities and concerned persons in Nara Prefecture

6. Memo related to Prince Takeru who was known as deaf and mute in ancient time

7. On 14 deaf professional baseball players in MLB in the past

8. Investigation on the bronze statues of de l'Epée and others

9. Summary: Deaf History of Hyogo Prefecture

Japanese Federation of the Deaf completes shooting a film in commemoration of its 60th anniversary

The Japanese Federation of the Deaf, located in Shinjuku Ward, Tokyo, is working on the production of a movie titled "Transferring Leaves" in commemoration of the 60th anniversary since its establishment.

The film was taken in the downtown in Tokyo and has just completed shooting in September. Deaf persons took charge of the production as a director, a screen writer and more than half of casts. The film is expected to be shown next spring.

Ms Eriko Imai (25), who is hearing and a member of SPEED, a popular music group, acted as the former lover of a deaf man. Kentaro Hayase (35), a born-deaf man, was the director and also developed the scenario.

Imai was learning sign language with her deaf son since this spring in the free school that Hayase manages. When asked to act the role, she acceted it at once, saying "I have had a feeling that I wanted to tell deaf children something important."

Yanaka in the downtown was selected a shooting site suitable for the theme. Hayase explained, "I wanted to show an old part of the Showa era (1927-1989) in Tokyo."

As for Imai's acting, he said, "She demonstrated a strength as mother as well as the dignified beauty. The number of those who start learning sign language might increase."

The title of the movie, "Transferring Leaves," is connected to the name of the plant which an old leaf falls after a new leaf goes out. It means to appeal for the value of mutual understanding and communication among persons of a different generation together.

Source:Kyodo News Service and Kyoto Shimbun, Oct. 15, 2008

Living facility for the deaf and blind to be closed next year in Kagoshima Prefecture

A resident facility where deaf children and visually impaired children are living is called "The Sanko Home," located near the Kagoshima Prefectural School for the Deaf in the southern part of Japan.

The Sanko Home was set up according to the Children's Welfare Act. Seven deaf children, aged between five and 18 who live far from the school, currently make the resident facility their home. The professional staff, including day-care takers, support them in daily life and learning.

The Kagoshima Prefecture will close the Home in March, 2009, because the number of children living in the House has decreased.

Recently, a group of four parents appealed at the press meeting in the prefectural government office that the Home should be kept in operation.

As the Prefecture has decided to close the Home next March, the children will have to move to the dormitory of the Kagoshima Prefectural School for the Deaf where 23 students live.

The parents said, "We are worried and not sure whether our children will be taken care enough like the life in the Sanko Home after they transfer to the dormitory."

The parents also demanded the Prefecture to keep the Home open. "If impossible, the school should provide the children in the dormitory with what the Home has done to support them."

Source: Mainichi Shimbun, Oct. 12, 2008

Spam to the emergency text messages system for the deaf in Shiga Prefecture

Deaf residents in Shiga Prefecture, near Kyoto and Osaka, use the telephone number, 1-1-0, to send a text message via mobile telephone to the Shiga Prefectural Police Department for help or emergency. It introduced the emergency text message system for the first time in Japan in January, 1999.

The Communication Order Division of the Police Department in charge of the system is currently in trouble as a large amount of spam such as the online dating sites are sent to the system.

Every time a text message is received with the computer designed for the system, a red light flashes, and the division staff checks it.

Only about one for 300 text messages received is a valid one. The division received 14 valid text messages as of 2006, 12 for 2007, and 49 as of July, 2008. Text messages sent from the deaf persons are mainly complaints of the illegal parking and reports of a suspicious person.

On the other hand, it is said that the spam reaches even by 40-50 text messages a day. The heavy load of the spam has caused the division burden.

There is no mechanism in the system that the spam is deleted at present though the division has hired three more persons in October. The work load of the division is still heavy.

The division manager says that measures with the new communication instruction system would be attempted in January, 2009 when the Police Department is planned to move to the new public office."

Source: The Kyoto Shimbun, Oct. 9, 2008

Deaf Japanese choreographer interviewed by UK newspaper

The Guardian, one of UK newspapers, issued on October 10, 2008, featured Deaf persons active in their own field. One of them, Ms. Chisato Minamimura from Japan, was interviewed. She is a contemporary dance choreographer and currently lives in London.

For the detail of the interview, click the site:

Also her work was introduced in the TV program aired on September 23, 2008. You can enjoy her work on the video clip, "3 Minute Wonder: The Place Prize 2008 - 2" (about 3 min): http://www.channel4.com/culture/microsites/0-9/3mw/index.html

Puppet show presented at schools for the deaf to promote awareness on disaster prevention

On October 8, a puppet theater company, called the "Deaf Puppet Theater-Hitomi," presented a puppet show titled "Fire of the Rick" in the Kawasaki Municipal School for the Deaf, Nakahara Ward, Kawasaki City, Kanagawa Prefecture in the neighboring area of Tokyo. Thirty-eight deaf children enjoyed the performance.

The Deaf Puppet Theater-Hitomi, based in the Modern Puppet Theater Center in the city, will visit 104 schools for the deaf, including the branch schools, nationwide to present the performance in the future.

There are deaf members in the puppet theater company, which has been performing since1980.

The original story, titled "Fire of the Rick," was one of the works by Yakumo Koizumi (Lafcadio Hearn), a famous writer. He wrote it based on folk literature in Hirokawa Town, Wakayama Prefecture, western part of Japan, that the man saved the villagers from the tidal waves.

The puppet show was developed based on the story. The earthquake occurs in the village near the beach where the festival was prepared. Gobee, master of the village, who lived on the hill finds the tidal waves approaching and warns the villagers by putting on a fire on the rick of reaping rice plants that he just made.

The person in charge of the theatrical company said, "We want the students to get prepared against the disaster at any time, and also to know the charm of a genuine puppet show."

Representing all the students, Yoshimi Baba (18), a high school senior, said, "We learned that when the disaster happens, it is important to obtain information through eyes, not the ear."

Source: Kanagawa Shimbun, Oct. 8, 2008

Deaf man plans to climb the highest mountain of the Antarctica in December, 2008

Yasuyuki Okubo (38), a deaf company employee in the Kanazawa City, Ishikawa Prefecture, plans to reach the top of Vinson Massif (4,897 meters/16,050 ft), the highest mountain of Antarctica in December.

Okubo lost hearing due to sickness at the age of three. If his challenge succeeds, he will be the first deaf person in the world according to the South Pole travel agent.

He has reached both the North Pole and the South Pole in spite of his deafness. He says, "I want to tell people that the dream will be fulfilled even if you have a disability."

Okubo will be on the tour that the American business sponsors. He will leave Japan on December 13, and arrive the Patriot Hills in the South Pole via Chile. Later he will proceed to the base of the mountain by airplane, etc., and then start climbing on December 17. His return is scheduled around January 10, 2009.

Okubo traveled around the world, mainly Asia and South America since his twenties. He has finally landed on all of the seven continents in the world in May, 2007.

The strong desire for challenging the untouched region forced him to do the training repeatedly at the mountains including Hakusan and Tateyama despite of being irritated with financial difficulties.

There will be more danger for Okubo as the wireless will not be used in the South Pole because of deafness in addition to a severe environment of 30 degrees under the freezing point. His body will be tied to the guide's with the rope to secure the safety while climbing to the top of the mountain.

Okubo aims to become one of the "Seven Summitters" who have conquered the highest peaks of the mountains of the seven continents in the world. He has reached Kilimanjaro, the highest peak in the Africa continent, on the New Year's Day, 2008.

The prefectural school for the deaf, his alma mater, celebrates the 100th anniversary this year. He said that he wanted to show the deaf children how he kept challenging by the second adventure this time.

Source: The Hokkoku Shimbun, Oct. 8, 2008

Campaign to keep the name of schools for the deaf in Saitama Prefecture

On September 30, a group called "The Study Group on Deaf Education in Saitama Prefecture" met with Kazuo Shimamura, superintendent of the Prefectural Education Bureau, and requested to leave the name of two prefectural schools for the deaf in the prefecture. They also submitted the 13,637 signatures to him. The group is consisted of deaf persons and those concerned.

The School Education Law was revised to form or change to a special support school to meet the needs of children with multiple disabilities. Starting in the fiscal year of 2007, not only schools for the deaf, but also schools for the blind as well as schools for impaired children are going to be changed to special support schools nationwide. The Prefectural Education Bureau is under review on the change of the two prefectural schools for the deaf, Omiya School for the Deaf and Sakado School for the Deaf.

The group says "The term of special support is discriminatory. We want them to continue the name of the schools for the deaf of which we are proud."

The Prefectural Deaf Association and sign language circles have worked to collect signatures since July to support their goal.

Chairman Yoshihiro Yokoshima (50) explains, "We want the schools for the deaf to keep the specialty that meets the needs of deaf children, not allowing to mix with children with other disabilities."

Source: The Yomiuri Shimbun, Oct. 6, 2008

Support center for the deaf set up in Yamagata Prefecture

A central center that provides deaf persons with counseling service through sign language or note taking, called the "Prefectural Information Support Center for the Deaf," opened in the Prefecture Branch Shirakawa public office, Yamagata City, October 1, 2008.

It is the first facility in the Yamagata Prefecture which offers various services to the deaf persons. According to parties concerned, the center is expected to function as a place for persons with disabilities to meet one other and exchange information.

About 5000 deaf persons reside in the prefecture (as of the end of March in 2008) according to the Prefecture Social Welfare Services Devision. The Devision has dispatched interpreters and lent caption/sign language videos and DVD. Only seven cities and towns including Yamagata City were able to offer interpreting services. Thus a formation of a base center was necessary.

In the new center, the interpreters work full time, does the new service such as lending the information device to workshops and meetings which deaf persons attend. Lending the captioned videos (about 5300), etc. continues. Counseling by not only those who visit but also the video telephone and e-mail is accepted.

In the opening ceremony, the chairman of the prefecture deaf society that entrusts the center management says "Among deaf persons, there are various needs; some need hearing aids for communication, some need the interpreters, some need note taking. The new center is expected that the problem in life can be solved even a little."

The center is open 8:30-17:00. Holidays year-end and new year days, and the weekend are closed.

Source: The Yomiuri Shimbun, Oct. 06, 2008

Deafblind educator becomes university professor

Dr. Satoru Fukushima (45), who is deafblind and a well-known advocate for the rights of the deafblind, was promoted from the associate professor to the professor on October 1, 2008 at the University of Tokyo Highly-Advanced Science and Technology Research Center.

He is the first deafblind person who became a full-time professor in Japan. Probably it is also a rare case in the world.

Dr. Fukushima teaches the barrier-free theory.

He said, "I would like to do my best to remove various barriers in the University and the society. My lifework is to form a National Helen Keller Center for about 20,000 deafblind persons across Japan and to set up the base of a barrier-free education and research at the University."

He lost sight when he was 9 years old and then lost hearing at the age of 18. Through a new communication system called the "finger braille" which his mother invented and the support of the interpreting with the use of the "finger braille system," he was admitted and went through a university for the first time as a deafblind student.

Since April, 2001, he has been the assistant professor and later the associate professor of the University of Tokyo.

Source: Asahi Shimbun, Oct. 2, 2008