Parasports Bring a New Sense of Unity to the World
There are few activities that are as awe-inspiring to watch as parasports. Motivated by their drive to achieve and their passion for competition, para-athletes remind us through their amazing performances just what people can accomplish given the vision, desire, and the proper support. We at Mitsubishi Electric recognize and applaud this ambition, and have provided various types of support for wheelchair basketball in Japan.
Striving for Symbiosis in the Global Society
In 2020, Japan expects to welcome as many as 40 million international visitors; and nearly 30% of the population will be 65 years of age or older, meaning that the number of people using wheelchairs or otherwise coping with declining mobility will grow. Doing our part to ensure that everyone in this increasingly diverse society is able to move about freely and comfortably, pursue their dreams, and live vibrant, affluent lives is one of our key roles in our quest to realize a symbiotic society.
As part of our efforts to make society more inclusive, we became an official partner of the Japanese Para-Sports Association (JPSA)—whose mission of creating a vibrant, symbiotic society is very much in tune with our own—and the Japan Wheelchair Basketball Federation (JWBF). Our objective is to provide comprehensive support not only for wheelchair basketball, but for para-sports in general. Our sponsorship for wheelchair basketball began back in 2015, when we supported the IWBF Asia-Oceania Championship held in Chiba. And since then we have offered wide-ranging support including the reform and provision of the gymnasium at our Information Technology R&D Center for use by the Kanto Wheelchair Basketball Federation in 2016, and implemented our Going Up Campaign that same year. Through experience-based events where participants can try their hand at a variety of para-sports, and regular seminars for our employees hosted by disabled people, the campaign serves to raise awareness of the importance of diversity and respect for all people.
An Exciting Way to Promote Togetherness
From August 29th through September 1st, 2019, the third and final edition of the Mitsubishi Electric World Challenge Cup wheelchair basketball tournament took place in Chofu City, in the western suburbs of Tokyo. It featured teams representing Japan, Australia, Iran, and South Korea.
In front of a packed house, the players show incredible skill and desire as they battle for position, move the ball up and down the court with precision passing, and play suffocating defense. The energetic, rhythmic banging of the thundersticks by the crowd, eyes riveted on the frenzied action, motivates the players to pour every ounce of energy they have into the closely contested game.
A group of elementary school children is particularly amazed at the athletes’ toughness and tenacity. A collision between two players takes them by surprise and they turn away momentarily. But when one of the players whose wheelchair had been overturned manages to right himself and get immediately back into the action, the children instantly get behind him. "Come on, you can do it!" "Wow, that guy’s awesome!"
Mitsubishi Electric’s support and the spectators’ encouragement are very important to the athletes. "We are motivated and empowered by this tournament," said Japan men’s national wheelchair basketball team captain Akira Toyoshima. "We’re really grateful to have the opportunity to compete here in Tokyo against such powerhouse teams, as it will help give us the strength to win on the world stage."
An exhibit created by Mitsubishi Electric that enabled attendees to sit in a wheelchair and actually take a few shots, and to take photos with the players, allowed people to gain an even deeper understanding of the importance of diversity.
Setting the Wheels in Motion Toward a Symbiotic Society
Mitsubishi Electric supports the JPSA and the JWBF as an official partner. JPSA’s mission of creating a vibrant, symbiotic society is very much in harmony with that of Mitsubishi Electric, contributing to our decision to partner with JPSA back in 2013, according to Kazutoshi Miyamoto, deputy vice president of Corporate Marketing, who also leads the department in charge of parasports promotion. "We support the para-athletic version of basketball and work to help parasports spread and gain acceptance, thereby contributing to the realization of a symbiotic society where able-bodied and disabled persons respect and accept each other."
We at Mitsubishi Electric are extremely enthusiastic about giving these athletes a little push to help propel them to new heights, and Mr. Miyamoto helped to explain that exuberance. "The appeal of wheelchair basketball is in its intensity," Miyamoto marvels. "I was amazed at the fierce collisions, the speed, the stop-and-go action, and the skill with which the players maneuvered their wheelchairs. I encourage everyone to go and experience it for themselves."
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