I wish all readers of JAPAN Forward a very Happy New Year.
Let me start by expressing my admiration and thanks to all medical care professionals and other essential workers who have been on the frontlines of the battle against COVID-19.
Next, I would like to extend my condolences to all the families who have lost loved ones to COVID-19 and best wishes for a quick recovery to all who have contracted the disease.
I also would like to thank the editors and staff of JAPAN Forward for carrying interviews with me last year. I am honored that so many readers around the world read those articles online.
Humble thanks for doing so much to get the interview published go to Mr. Yoshihisa Komori and his wife Susan. Their warm support and excellent translation were much appreciated. Thanks also go to Mr. Mitsuru Tanaka, who conducted the first interview for The Sankei Shimbun.
As I noted earlier in this message, the COVID-19 pandemic that erupted worldwide last year has caused dramatic changes to all our lifestyles.
Even now we face a challenging environment which inevitably restricts our daily activities. With what lies ahead for us remaining so unclear, I am sure that many people are feeling a sense of unease.
Nevertheless, I am confident that in 2021 the wisdom and strenuous efforts of people around the world will help us to build a new world. I believe this can be year one of that great endeavor. If we can overcome the difficulties we currently face, without a doubt a bright future awaits us.
Due to the delay necessitated by COVID-19, the Tokyo Olympics and Paralympics are now scheduled to be held this summer. I am confident that these two events will serve to help build this new future.
I am keenly aware that there are differing opinions on whether or not the Games should go forward or, if so, in what form. That is all the more reason to consider wherein the significance of holding the Olympics and Paralympics really lies. What can sports actually accomplish? That is why I believe the Tokyo Summer Games can occasion a needed return to what sports were originally all about and the rediscovery of their significance.
We live in a competitive world, so it is only natural that we should strive for results. However, we should never forget that the true value of sports transcends victory or defeat. The Olympics are at heart a festival of peace and hope. Those of us who are directly involved with the Olympics have a lofty mission to spread peace and hope throughout the world.
We are doing all we can to ensure that the successful staging of the Olympics and Paralympics will make as many people as possible glad that these events were indeed held.
In judo we use the expressions “maximum efficient use of energy” and “mutual prosperity for self and others.” These are maxims that Jigoro Kano, the founder of judo (the “gentle way”), bequeathed to us.
They epitomize the goal of judo, namely “through daily practice to training the body and cultivating wisdom and virtue” so as to perfect oneself and contribute to society.
We judoka throughout the world pursue this goal at all times, not just for tournaments. That is why we practice judo.
I believe this philosophy is what is needed for people throughout the world to join hands and fight COVID-19. As a judoka myself, I always try to act in accordance with this philosophy.
And that is why I believe there is always hope at all times.
I sincerely hope that it will be a good year for readers of JAPAN Forward and indeed everyone throughout the world in 2021.
January 1, 2021
Kosei Inoue is the head national coach of Japan’s men’s judo team and former Olympic and World judo champion.