Ex-Leprosy Patient Carries Olympic Torch, Calls for No Discrimination

Society

Takamatsu, Kagawa Pref., April 19 (Jiji Press)--Former leprosy patient Tsuneji Matsumoto wished for a world free of prejudice and discrimination as he carried the Tokyo Olympic torch on Sunday in Takamatsu, Kagawa Prefecture, western Japan.

Matsumoto, 89, who lost his sight in the aftermath of the disease, bore the flame through his section in a wheelchair, side by side with staff of National Sanatorium Oshima Seishoen for leprosy patients.

After developing signs of leprosy when he was an elementary school fifth-grader, Matsumoto was moved to the sanatorium in the city.

"I was discriminated very badly in my life," said Matsumoto, who had not been able to go out under a now-defunct law that had mandated the isolation of leprosy patients. He lost contact with some classmates after developing the disease.

"All people are afraid of things that they can't see," Matsumoto said, comparing his own experience to the coronavirus pandemic. "That leads to prejudice and discrimination," he said.

[Copyright The Jiji Press, Ltd.]

Jiji Press