My fellow young Greens,
First of all, I would like to thank the organizers of the meeting. Your
hard work made this conference very fruitful. A great success, thanks to you
This is my great honor to make this speech at this closing ceremony.
My name is Ryuhei Kawada, and I am a steering committee member of the
I am HIV positive, and I am going to run for the Upper House election in
Japan in July this year.
Let me tell you why I made up my mind to do so.
I was born with a blood disease. The disease is called hemophilia. This
means, I had to take the medicine produced from human blood. When I was 10
years old, my mother told me that I got infected with HIV since the medicine
I took had been contaminated with the virus.
Ever since, I have lived with the fear of suffering from AIDS, and also
lived with anger and frustration because AIDS killed many of my friends,
one after another. They had taken the medicine produced from the
Together with other patients, I decided to take this matter to court. We
wanted to make clear why we had to become infected with HIV and who was
responsible for it.
There's little chance of win, said most people. We were suing the Government
and a major pharmaceutical company. But I was feeling very strongly that we
must win at all costs, and we were determined to fight with all our pride.
Many HIV-positive persons remain anonymous for fear of the social prejudice.
But I came out with my face and real name when I was 19 years old.
I did not want to hide myself from the discrimination and injustice. I
really wanted to live with dignity.
I was not sure, and I was a bit afraid of, how people would respond to my
coming-out. But many young people asked themselves what they could do to
solve this problem and stood up for us, realizing it was their own problem.
During the court case, it became clear that the pharmaceutical company
kept providing contaminated blood products for their profit, and the expert
doctors and the bureaucrats of the Ministry of Health did not stop it, even
though they were well aware of the danger of the virus infection.
The human chain of 3500 people surrounded the Health Ministry building in
solidarity with the victims of this medical crime. That appeal moved many
more people nationwide and an epoch-making legal decision was reached. The
case was settled out of court, and the Minister of Health made an official
However, even this legal victory did not change the collusive relationships
among politicians, bureaucrats, industry, scholars, and the medical doctors.
Money and industrial benefit always precede life and human rights in the
present-day Japanese society.
Not to repeat the tragedy, I realized the importance of the individual
consciousness and education. So I started teaching at the colleges and
giving lectures all over the country.
By learning together, and by talking to each other, people realize the value
of life and human.
The spirit of peace and democracy grows out of this process.
However at the same time, I feel strongly that it is becoming more and more
difficult for students to enjoy education in proper ways.
The social gap between the rich and the poor is rapidly widening in Japan,
and more and more young people can not afford time and money to learn about
the important things such as democracy and human rights protection.
And the competitive society, which is becoming harsher every year, deprives
the people of the sense of autonomy and solidarity.
School children in Japan are often forced into meaningless school
disciplines, without knowing why they have to obey to what they are told.
In addition, the ruling political parties are aiming at changing the present
Constitution of Japan, which stipulates the universal ideals of human
rights, peace and democracy. Mostly at risk is our Article 9 of Japanese
Constitution, which proudly denounces war and military forces. The
government parties are paving the road to revise the Constitution, turning
the clock of history back to the macho, imperial Japan.
Last month, a bill to amend the Fundamental Law of Education was passed in
Japanese Parliament, in spite of many objections. The law was implemented
right after the World War Two in order to democratize and demilitarize the
education in Japan. This amendment is generally understood as a step to
revise the Constitution.
Under the present political situation in Japan, it is getting more and more
difficult for us to introduce the democratic and peaceful ideals through
As I already told to some of you during this Young Greens meeting, the
current political incidents in Japan are appalling and alarming. Let me give
you here only a few examples of what's happening in Japan.
Many teachers were sanctioned simply because they did not sing the national
anthem at ceremonies at school. For those who don't know, the national
anthem remains the same as was sung in the wartime Japan. It praises the
emperor rather than the democracy. In a recent ruling at Tokyo District
Court, the judge declared that the punishment against those dissident
teachers were unconstitutional. If the present constitution is revised,
however, our freedom of thought and freedom of conscience will be gone.
People were arrested just because they deliver fliers which criticize the
government’s policy of sending troops to Iraq.
The Conspiracy Bill might be approved at the Parliament in current sitting.
This bill abuses fundamental human rights by giving law enforcers a power to
arrest and charge people only for talking about a plan which may be partly
Life and human rights are discounted in Japanese society today. Due to
dispossession and deprivation, as many as 90 people commit suicide every
single day in Japan.
In the meantime, the majority conservative politicians and the industries
blame the present Japanese Constitution and the Fundamental Law of
Education, shamelessly claiming that these post-war democratic laws have
been ruining the strength of the state!.
In Japan nowadays, many people find it uncomfortable to criticize the
government or to speak out freely. But I can not sit still to watch the
situation getting worse and worse. I can not look on idly at the democracy
fading away. I can not keep silent.
We were able to file the lawsuit and have made the government to compensate
because the right to live as well as other basic human rights are
guaranteed by the constitution of our country.
If, however, the present constitution is revised, we will loose our most
precious tool to fight with.
Ever since I was 10 years old, when I was told of my HIV infection, I have
been thinking deeply about what people live for.
I really hope to live happily. However, my experience as a victim of the
medical and industrial crime made me realize that people can live happily
when, and only when our society cares for the values of peace, life, and
Lives are invaluable; however, it is not enough to just think about human
We are wasting so much and sacrificing nature for our material prosperity.
Japanese traditional philosophy, “mottainai”, which means "too precious to
waste", was introduced to all over the world by the energetic Prof. Wangari
We have to appeal the importance of Green politics which values not only
peace, but also the global environment and biodiversity, aiming at truly
While I was not old enough legally to be a candidate, my mother became a
Member of the Parliament in the hope of changing the politics.
She did not belong to any parties or factions. I helped her work as
politician and I realized that an independent member, even alone, can
achieve something in the law-makers' place. At the same time, I also
realized the difficulty of working alone.
We can do many things alone. In politics, however, power of one person is
Working together, we will be empowered a lot.
Now I have many friends to pursue the same aim and to struggle the way to
change Japanese politics and to bring out a society where justice is done
and people live with dignity.
I do not want to give up.
I want to live my life with a hope.
We tend to think that we are powerless and we can not make any difference to
But I learned an important lesson through the HIV lawsuit I mentioned
I did not give up. I worked together with other people, and which moved many
people to stand up and to speak out. The action of each one of us made a
real change and brought about the epoch-making result. A historic win, not
only for the HIV positive claimants, but for all those who care for the
values of life, democracy and peace.
I am confident that we can do something, if we do not give up.
I am confident that we can change the society, if each one of us thinks
about what we can do and if we take actions together.
Our confidence and actions are the hope, which we can give to our children.
On this planet earth, I would like to look back the past history, share the
hope for the future, and nurture our children.
I really want to build a society that can assure our children life, nature,
healthy living, and life with dignity.
I want to bring about a society in which people can not only pursue their
own happiness but also share the happiness with all the people on this green
This is why I made up my mind to run for the Upper House election this
I am determined to devote the rest of my life to change this planet for the
better, green direction.
Attending the Global Young Greens Meeting here in Nairobi, I realized I am
not alone with such determination.
I enjoyed our exciting encounter and exchange of ideas. This has been a
Thank you very much.