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Cablegate: Nomination for International Woman of Courage Award

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OO RUEHFK RUEHKSO RUEHNAG RUEHNH
DE RUEHKO #3004 3020550
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
O 280550Z OCT 08
FM AMEMBASSY TOKYO
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC IMMEDIATE 8326
INFO RUEHFK/AMCONSUL FUKUOKA PRIORITY 0637
RUEHNAG/AMCONSUL NAGOYA PRIORITY 8706
RUEHNH/AMCONSUL NAHA PRIORITY 2995
RUEHOK/AMCONSUL OSAKA KOBE PRIORITY 4420
RUEHKSO/AMCONSUL SAPPORO PRIORITY 1210

UNCLAS TOKYO 003004

SIPDIS
SENSITIVE

ANDREA BOTTNER, SANDRA PEDROARIAS, G/IWI

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: PREL KPAO PHUM JA
SUBJECT: NOMINATION FOR INTERNATIONAL WOMAN OF COURAGE AWARD

REF: STATE 00099729

1. (SBU) Embassy Tokyo nominates Nami Takenaka, Chairperson
of Prop Station, a non-profit welfare organization for people
with disabilities, to receive the Secretary of State's 2009
Award for International Women of Courage (IWOC).

2. (SBU) Nami Takenaka was born in 1948 in Kobe, Japan.
Blessed with the birth of a daughter some 30 years ago with
serious mental and physical disabilities, Nami taught herself
the issues surrounding the medical care, welfare, and
education for children with disabilities. Nami was a single
mother who refused to give up on her own daughter's
potential, and that of other children with disabilities. On
her own she courageously stood up to the pervasive and severe
stigma that both children with disabilities, and the families
of children with disabilities, face in Japan,

3. (SBU) Initially finding little support, she began a
volunteer career that has now spanned more than 20 years.
Her activities have included running a toy library, sign
language translation, guidance for the visually impaired,
assistance at institutions for the severely physically
disabled, day-care for those suffering from Alzheimer's, and
providing nursing care for paraplegics. She says that her
breakthrough came when an American friend referred to people
with disabilities as "challenged". "That's it!" she said,
"We have to stop thinking of these people as damaged. We
have to concentrate on what they can do and not what they
cannot do."

4. (SBU) Recognizing the great potential that computers and
the Internet have for the lives of people with disabilities,
Nami established Prop Station in 1991. Prop Station offers
training in employable skills and arranges job opportunities
that help people with disabilities to live more independent
lives and take on a greater role in society. In September
1998, after seven years of operation as an NPO, Prop Station
was granted recognition as a Social Welfare Corporation and
she became the Chairperson. Since its inception, Prop
Station has helped thousands of disabled Japanese to find
meaningful, productive work. It has become an
internationally recognized innovator in the field of
vocational education and advocacy for people with
disabilities.

5. (SBU) Recognizing that Japanese society and government
needed to change their ideas about the disabled, Nami
Takenaka began teaching about her "Universal Society" concept
in which everyone, men and women, young and elderly, able and
disabled, could find a useful contributing role. In 1995 she
organized the first "Challenged Japan Forum" (CJF). In 2002
she helped to teach a team of leading Japanese women
lawmakers about the Universal Society goal. In 2004 the
Ministry of Land, Infrastructure, and Transport made her
Supervisor of the Free Mobility Support Project. In 2005 she
became a member of the Cabinet Office's Central Council for
the Promotion of Measures for Disabled Persons. In 2008 she
served as a member of former Prime Minister Fukuda's National
Commission on Social Security, formed to discuss welfare and
other policies.

6. (SBU) Rising above great difficulties, and in an
environment of ignorance and stigma, Nami Takenaka turned
what could have been a personal tragedy into a source of
inspiration that enabled her to help thousands of disabled
people find productive livelihoods. Because of her uncommon
courage and commitment to equal justice, equal rights, and
human dignity, she was able to begin a transformation of the
way Japanese think about disabled people, a transformation
that is continues to grow in strength.

7. (SBU) Biographical Data: Full Legal Name: Nami Takenaka.
DOB: 1948, Kobe, Japan. Citizenship: Japanese. Job Title:
Chairperson. Association: Prop Station. Address: Kobe Head
Office 6E-13, 6-9 Rokko Island, Koyo-Cho-Naka,
Higashinada-ku, Kobe, Hyogo, Japan 658-0032. Phone:
81-78-845-2263. E-mail: nami@prop.or.jp. Passport number:
currently unavailable. Nami Takenaka has been informed of her
nomination.
SCHIEFFER

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