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Paralliance webinar: “Tokyo 2020 Paralympics—One Day to Go! The Impact of the Tokyo Paralympics in 1964 and 2021”

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August 23, 2021 @ 12:00 am

The Paralympics are coming to Tokyo! Join us for this special event co-hosted by the Paralliance – a coalition of 20 international Chambers of Commerce in Japan (incl. BLCCJ).
After a presentation and Q&A (18:30-19:30) this event will be followed by the chance to network in breakout networking rooms, led by a Paralympic athlete (19:30-20:00).


About this Event

The Paralympic Games often improve accessibility for people with an impairment in the country where the event is being hosted. The Games are also an excellent way to raise awareness, and this was particularly true in 1964, when problems faced by people with an impairment in Japan often went unseen. The 1964 Paralympics, supported very visibly by then-Crown Prince Akihito and Crown Princess Michiko, put a whole new level of capability and way of life on display – not only for the Japanese athletes and their families and friends, but for all of Japanese society.

In the 21st century, our definition of impairment has significantly broadened as Japan’s rapidly ageing society has led to a demographic shift. Leaders and citizens alike have come to realise that the needs and goals of individuals with a physical impairment often align with those of the elderly. Accordingly, they have started to leverage available knowledge, tools, and resources that will enable them to lead full and enjoyable lives.

On August 23 we will be joined by Dr. Mark Bookman, historian of disability in Japanese and global contexts at the University of Tokyo. He will use the Tokyo 2020 Paralympic Games, which will take place August 24 – September 5, and the 1964 Paralympics as case studies to explain how activists and legislation have both failed and succeeded to point a way forward for people with an impairment, who, according to the United Nations, make up 15% of the world’s population. And if you believe there is a correlation between ageing and impairment, then that number is actually closer to 100% of those who make it into their golden years. Indeed, with old age on the horizon, the day may come when you also need improved access.


Event details:

  • Date: Monday 23 August 2021
  • Time: 18:30–19:30; optional networking 19:30–20:00
  • Speaker: Dr. Mark Bookman, historian of disability in Japanese and global contexts
  • Organizers: Joint Chamber Paralliance (led by the American Chamber)
  • Free-of-charge
  • This event will be hosted as a webinar using Webex Meetings
  • Registration/Cancellation: send an email to before the deadline. We will confirm your registration. You will receive the Webex link on the day itself (August 23).
  • Deadline: Monday 23 August @ 14:00


NOTE 1: This event is OFF THE RECORD.
NOTE 2: Please note that, as with all guest presentations, the content and comments of the speakers reflect their own opinions and do not necessarily represent the opinions or policies of the hosting organizations.
NOTE 3: If you have trouble joining the meeting, please click the link below for instructions:

As staff availability will be limited during the meeting, we recommend that you try the video conferencing system in advance of the meeting. Please test out the system at this link: 

(Kindly note that ACCJ is hosting this webinar, not BLCCJ.)


About the Speaker

Mark Bookman is a historian of disability in Japanese and global contexts based at the University of Tokyo. He holds PhD and master of arts degrees from the University of Pennsylvania, and a bachelor of arts from Villanova University. Bookman’s research has been supported by various grants and awards, including a Fulbright U.S. Student Fellowship to Japan and a Japan Foundation Doctoral Fellowship. His scholarship on disability inclusion can be found in Japan Focus: The Asia-Pacific Journal and other peer-reviewed journals, as well as public-facing media outlets such as The Japan Times and Japan Today.

Outside of the academy, Bookman also works as an accessibility consultant. He has collaborated with government agencies and corporate entities in Japan, the United States, and Canada—as well as the International Paralympic Committee and the United Nations—on projects related to inclusive education, equitable transportation, and disaster risk management for diverse populations with impairments.

For additional information about Mark Bookman, see his website:


Meet the Paralympians

Noel Thatcher MBE (Great Britain)

Noel is a six-time Paralympian 1984-2004, and five-time Gold Medallist.

He studied Japanese at SOAS achieving the JLPT level 1 in 2003. Prior to this he was third place prize winner at 1997 Sir Peter Parker Business Japanese Speech Contest.

Noel has delivered Japanese language and culture sessions in schools and to national sports organisations across the UK including ParalympicsGB, UK Sport, British Athletics and the English Institute of Sport.

He has worked in collaboration with the Daiwa Anglo-Japanese Foundation. the Japan Foundation London, the Japan Sports Council and the Embassy of Japan in the UK supporting sport and cultural exchange programmes.

In 2019 Noel was awarded the Japanese Government Foreign Minister’s Commendation for promoting Japan-UK relations through sport.

He is a frequent speaker on Parasport and Disability in both the UK and Japan, and is co-host of the Japan Sport Stories Podcast.


Andreas Onea (Austria)

Andreas Onea (born 9 July 1992), an Austrian Paralympic swimmer, represented Austria at the 2012 Summer Paralympics in London and at the 2016 Summer Paralympics in Rio de Janeiro. At Rio 2016, he won the bronze medal in the men’s 100 meter breaststroke SB8 event and is highly expected to perform well at Tokyo 2020.

In 1998, when he was almost 6 years old, Andreas lost his left arm in a serious car accident that could have been fatal. After this accident, he started swimming as a therapeutic sport. He continued the training step by step and developed an athletic performance fit for international competitive sporting events like the Paralympics.

Through his swimming Andreas shows that a disability does not have to be a reason for a reduced quality of life and neither a reason to give up on your goals and dreams. Andreas Onea today is an internationally requested motivational speaker, as well as a TV host (ORF, Austria’s leading broadcaster)

TV credits include:
Ohne Grenzen – Das Behindertensportmagazin“(Disabled Sports Magazine)
ORF Sport+ (“Without Limits” – TV-Show about disability sports)
Licht ins Dunkel Aktionstag“ and „Licht ins Dunkel Weihnachtsabend“ – (biggest TV charity show in Austria)

Follow Andreas:


About the Paralliance

This joint alliance of 20 international chambers of commerce in Japan – “The Paralliance” – was created in 2020, to support the success of the Tokyo 2020 Paralympic Games. The Paralympics are a global celebration of diversity and inclusion, sporting achievement, and personal endeavour.

Support Japan’s delivery of the Tokyo 2020 Paralympics, fostering a legacy of more inclusive communities and embracing opportunities for international business and exchange.

Participating Chambers of Commerce will collectively support the Tokyo 2020 Paralympic Committee in its delivery of an outstanding and popular games.

This is an opportunity for all of us to recognise our mission and commit to our pledge – Join the Paralliance’s second event on the evening of Monday 23 August!

Members of the Paralliance are:

  • American Chamber of Commerce in Japan
  • Australia/New Zealand Chamber of Commerce in Japan
  • Austrian Business Council
  • Belgian-Luxembourg Chamber of Commerce in Japan
  • British Chamber of Commerce in Japan
  • Canadian Chamber of Commerce in Japan
  • CCI France Japon
  • Danish Chamber of Commerce and Industry Japan
  • German Chamber of Commerce and Industry Japan
  • Greek Chamber of Commerce in Japan
  • Finnish Chamber of Commerce in Japan
  • Icelandic Chamber of Commerce Japan
  • Ireland Japan Chamber of Commerce
  • Italian Chamber of Commerce in Japan
  • Netherlands Chamber of Commerce in Japan
  • Norwegian Chamber of Commerce in Japan
  • South African Chamber of Commerce Japan
  • Spanish Chamber of Commerce in Japan
  • Swedish Chamber of Commerce in Japan
  • Swiss Chamber of Commerce and Industry Japan