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2011年1月13日 (木)

タイガーマスク 匿名の善意を見守ろう

(Mainichi Japan) January 12, 2011
Anonymous goodwill should be respected
社説:タイガーマスク 匿名の善意を見守ろう

The name, Naoto Date, undoubtedly sounds nostalgic to those in their late 40s or older. He is the main character of the manga work, "Tiger Mask." After spending his childhood as an orphan, Date becomes a star wrestler called Tiger Mask. The work was made into an anime, which was aired on television from 1969 to 1971. In the story, Date uses part of his earnings from wrestling to anonymously extend donations to the orphanage where he grew up.

On Dec. 25 last year, 10 school backpacks were found at the front gate to a child consultation center in Gunma Prefecture, and a letter from "Naoto Date" was attached to them. After it was reported by news organizations, backpacks, cash and toys were sent to child consultation centers and foster homes in Kanagawa, Okinawa, Gifu and other prefectures one after another by people calling themselves Naoto Date.

The movement may indicate that those of the Tiger Mask generation are sharing empathy with the anonymous goodwill.

Unlike those at the time of Tiger Mask, foster homes are now full of not only orphans but also victims of child abuse and children suffering from developmental disorders. Such facilities are required to offer better care and a family-like education environment for children.

Nevertheless, the government has still maintained its old standards for foster homes, which stipulate that one worker can look after a maximum of six children and that one child is provided with at least 3.3 square meters of space. In comparison, special nursing homes for the aged in Japan provide at least 10.65 square meters of space per resident. Therefore, the quality of foster homes in Japan is far worse than that for their counterparts in other developed countries.

Because of poverty and insufficient support for their studies, the ratio of those children at such facilities who go to university stands at a mere 10 percent, as compared with the national average of 54 percent.

Currently, 88 children live in the Nihon Jido Ikuseien foster home in Gifu that received five school backpacks from "Naoto Date." If relatives of children who enter elementary schools cannot buy school backpacks for them, the facility uses reserve funds to prepare for their entrance to schools (about 30,000 yen per child). However, it is difficult for the facility to buy school supplies, backpacks and other necessary goods for them only with the reserve funds because a backpack alone costs from several thousand yen to over 80,000 yen.

One cannot help but wonder whether those who call themselves Naoto Date donated the backpacks and other items to facilities for children because they were no longer able to stand by and watch these children in such distress. Some of them may have done it merely with a light heart. Still, we would like to support their actions.

Family and social bonds have loosened, and isolation and apathy are prevailing in society. Under these circumstances, better public social welfare services are needed. However, the government's debts have snowballed to over 900 trillion yen as its social security spending continues to grow. An increasing number of people are feeling that their livelihoods are being endangered.

As is shown by citizens' volunteer activities in disaster-hit areas, however, warm-heartedness is generated among people when their neighborhoods face crises. If gifts by those calling themselves "Naoto Date" are an indication of such a move, it should be used as an opportunity to nurture a spirit of mutual assistance.

We can no longer rely solely on families, regional communities or public social security programs. The introduction of tax breaks for those who extend donations to nonprofit organizations has been incorporated in a tax system reform plan for fiscal 2011.

This opportunity should be fully utilized to ensure that a newly generated culture and spirit of charity will take root in Japan.

毎日新聞 2011年1月12日 2時32分


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