[財団ブログ ― ハンセン病]
A Tribute to the Memory of Michihiro Ko (1934 -2014) Part I

The sudden demise of Mr. Ko on May 9, 2014 sent out a shocking wave around
the world among the people who had interest in issues related to HD and the
movement of people affected by HD.
Many media reported the news and followed up with memorial articles. They also reported that nearly 500 people attended his memorial service or “Farewell
service”, held at the auditorium of Tama-Zenshoen on May 13, 2014.
In the portrait displayed at the venue Mr. Ko looked dandy and relaxed in his
casual blue cotton jacket. It was as if he was smiling in a cover photo of a
men’s fashion magazine.
I wonder if he had chosen this particular portrait or was it his family’s choice.
In either case, it very well reflected his personality and was suitable for the
occasion of his memorial service.
神さん.jpg
We got to know Mr. Ko for the first time around the year 1995, about the same
time when IDEA (International Association for Dignity and Economic
Advancement) was established.
On the day the abolishment of the Leprosy Prevention Law took effect, on
April 1, 1996, Mr. Ko announced he would regain his birth name,
“Michihiro Ko” and discard the arias “Masao Kozaki” he had used ever since
he had been admitted to Hansen’s disease sanatoria back in 1951
at the age of 17. He was then secretary-general of Zen-Ryo-Kyo
(All Japan HD Sanatoria Residents’ Association), which was also renamed
from Zen-Kan-Kyo (All Japan HD Sanatoria Patients’ Association.).
In introducing “IDEA” to “Zen-Ryo-Kyo”, or vice versa,
it was Mr. Ko who was there to help liaise for the two organizations.
From 2005 for 6 years Sasakawa Memorial Health Foundation welcomed
Mr. Ko as a member of board of councilors.
We believed that the history and the ongoing movement of people
affected by HD in Japan would have much to offer for the similar
movements in the world. Therefore we wanted to increase the
opportunity to for the people of Japan, in particular Zen Ryo Kyo
members, to send their messages to the rest of the world.
However, Mr. Ko was putting all his energy into the activities of
“Zen-Ryo-Kyo” and the condition of HD sanatoria in Japan demanded
his time and effort, so it was not easy for us to get him to take part
in various international activities.
There were, however, many memorable dialogues and exchanges
which remain in our minds.
(Yamaguchi)
(contd.)