Daughter Of Former Refugee Parents Completes Tokyo Marathon With Support Group

Daughter of former refugee parents completes Tokyo Marathon with support groupA woman whose parents are former Myanmar refugees completed the Tokyo Marathon on Feb. 26, together with six members of a refugee-support marathon group at Meiji University.
The 21-year-old woman ran together with members of the group "Nanmin Kakehashi Project" (refugee bridge project).

"My legs hurt time and again, and it was tough, but my legs were moved by the strong feelings and passion of my friends to make the situation concerning refugees known," said the woman, celebrating what was her first marathon.

According to the woman, around 30 years ago her parents fled from their native land to Japan to escape persecution. The woman herself was born in Japan and has had no problem with the language, but she says, "I've lived in Japan for many years but don't have Japanese nationality. Since my parents are from Myanmar, there is Myanmar culture in our home. It is difficult to maintain an identity."

After involving herself at university with the issue of refugees, the woman joined the group in July last year. Coincidentally, soon afterward in August in Rio de Janeiro on the other side of the globe, the first-ever group of refugee athletes in Olympic history was formed, comprised of 10 athletes.

"I thought it was amazing, when there are other refugees who cannot go public about their situation. Sports have the power to provide an opportunity for solving the refugee problem," the woman says.

The woman and the other members of the group, all wearing the same blue T-shirts, were cheered from the sidelines as they ran. The woman says, "I finished (the race), but the refugee problem is still ongoing. I want people to feel an interest in it."