Japanese Federation of the Deaf unveils monument at historical place

June 12, 2015

Gunma Prefecture:

An unveiling ceremony of a monument took place on June 11 at Ikaho Hot Spring in Shibukawa-shi, a place where the national organization for the Deaf called Japanese Federation of the Deaf (JFD) was formed, in which many Deaf persons and others participated. Ishino Toshisaburo, president of the Federation, gave a speech, "We will never forget what happened today. The Federation will work hard aiming at the future when everyone can live regardless of hearing ability."

A monument was placed at two spots, one is at the "Hotel Kigure" site in Ikaho and the other at the hot spring town center where the meeting to form an organization of the Deaf was held in 1947. The monument at the hot spring town was designed by three Deaf students of Tsukuba Technology University in Tsukuba-shi, Ibaraki Prefecture.

Hearing persons such as a principal of school for the Deaf dominated the top position of the Deaf organizations in a prewar time (until 1945). The discrimination and the prejudice against the Deaf were severe then, and there was no concept of empowerment. A teaching in the root; the Deaf students were told many times by their teachers, "Be a good person to be loved by any hearing person." 

After the WW II ended in 1945, Deaf people started standing up for discrimination removal and a Deaf right. They exchanged a letter and about 250 people gathered from the whole country at Kigure Japanese-style hotel (present Hotel Kigure) in 1947.

After they argued a movement policy until late at night by sign language which also differed among regions then, the organization the Japanese Federation of the Deaf started formally in 1948 as "an organization by the Deaf persons, for the Deaf, and of the Deaf." It was a great meaning to meet and use sign language "directly" for the Deaf who were scattering across the country and often isolated from society.

Ever since the movement of Deaf people along with JFD has changed the social system in the country. The civil law which didn't accept housing loan was revised in 1979. A qualification system for an interpreter was established in 1989. A Deaf person is allowed to get a driver's license with a hearing aid on in 1973. Even if hearing impairment at all, by using a wide mirror and a hearing impairment sticker as a condition became possible to acquire in 2008.

The Deaf man, Miwa Takeji, 87, who lives at Maebashi-shi in the prefecture helped to manage an organization meeting when he was 19 years old then. "I hardly believe it has came when a Deaf persons can drive a car. The young generation is fluent in Japanese and active. I hope they will keep the spirit that the elder have carried on."

Japanese source: 

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