“Forgotten films from ’64 shed light on Paralympic evolution in Japan”

Photo and text borrowed from The Japan Times, 9/5/19.

Two long-forgotten films offering a rare glimpse into the staging of the 1964 Tokyo Paralympics and the conditions that were faced by disabled people in Japan at the time are being aired with about a year to go before the 2020 Games.

Gathering dust for about five decades, the films capture the atmosphere of postwar society in 1964, and the involvement of then-Crown Prince Akihito and Crown Princess Michiko in the fledgling sports movement.

The 1964 Paralympics were officially called the “International Games for the Physically Handicapped,” but the Tokyo event marked the first time the term “paralympics” came into wide, albeit then unofficial, use. It is now considered by the International Paralympic Committee to be the second Paralympics after the 1960 Rome Games, which were also called the Paraplegic Olympics.

A few of the Japanese athletes were former servicemen, and members of the Imperial family visited and watched the competitions, according to Journal of the Paralympic Research Group by the Nippon Foundation Paralympic Support Center. Many of the foreign athletes were also ex-servicemen.

One of the films, the title of which can be translated as “Tokyo Paralympics, Festival of Love and Glory” (“Tokyo Paralympic Ai to Eiko no Saiten”), had been “buried in the company’s massive archives,” Satoru Nokuo, associate general manager at distributor Kadokawa Corp., said at a screening at Sophia University in July.

The other film, “Record of the 1964 Tokyo Paralympic Games” (“1964-nen Tokyo Paralympic Taikai Kiroku Eiga”), was found in a warehouse of the Japanese Para-Sports Association, according to Tetsuya Takeuchi, a senior commentator at NHK who took part in the screenings.

Through interviews and other means, the 63-minute and 45-minute films depict how people with disabilities in Japan regained their sense of worth by …continue reading