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FOCUS September 2006 Volume 45

2006 Citizen's Forum

Teruo Yoneda*

* Teruo Yoneda is a staff of HURIGHTS OSAKA.

HURIGHTS OSAKA held the 2006 Citizens' Forum on 22 September 2006 in Piloti Hall, Osaka City. The Forum is an annual activity aimed at raising human rights awareness among the public. It is held in cooperation with the Osaka city and prefectural governments. This year's Forum had the theme "Aiming for the Goal of Human Rights."

The Forum began with a short concert by Ms. Nataliya Gudziy, a victim of radiation exposure in the Chernobyl Reactor accident in Ukraine when she was 6 years old. She is now involved in helping the other victims of the accident. Her lovely songs and the plaintive tone of the bandura, an ethnic Ukrainian instrument, fascinated the audience.

The Director of HURIGHTS OSAKA, Mr. Osamu Shiraishi then gave the opening address. Ms. Yoriko Suzuki, Principal Deputy Director of the Human Rights and Humanitarian Affairs Division, Japanese Ministry of Foreign Affairs gave a presentation on the Human Rights Council of the United Nations, how it was created, the discussions in the first session, as well as Japan's policy as a member of the Council.

The main part of the Forum was a three-person discussion with Mr. Yoshikazu Hiroshima, a teacher at Nagano Senior High School in Osaka, Ms. Miki Ebara, international correspondent of NHK, and Mr. Shiraishi. Mr. Hiroshima is also an international football referee, who took part in the recent football World Cup in Germany as a deputy referee. He told the audience about the joy he felt in being part of the World Cup and discussed Zinedine Zidane's head-butting incident. He also mentioned how fair plays would elicit applause even from the supporters of the opposing teams, how praising the losing side would promote respect for human rights, as well as his aspiration to train not first-class players, but players who would enjoy engaging in sports for life.

Ms. Ebara, aside from presiding over the discussion, spoke of her experience in reporting on the tsunami disaster off the Indonesian coast, and sharing the sorrow with the victims.

Mr. Shiraishi told Ms. Ebara that "staying away from journalists" was like a password among United Nations staff. He spoke of the harsh realities of working on cases of mass killings that do not allow room for emotions, and how he was attacked by armed bandits in Afghanistan.

For more information, please contact HURIGHTS OSAKA.

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