A monthly magazine, Soyokaze no Yoni Machi ni Deyo (Let’s go outside like a light breeze), went out of publication this past summer after addressing a broad range of issues related to disabilities for 38 years.

The magazine’s aim was not to discuss theories and policies concerning disabled people. Rather, it took up specific examples of problems encountered by disabled individuals in matters such as romance and childbirth--problems that are often overlooked by society at large.

When the magazine was inaugurated in Osaka in 1979, it took far more courage than now for disabled people to go out and mix with the general public. Society’s deep-rooted prejudices and preconceptions were manifest in people’s unkind looks directed at disabled people on the streets.

In one of the most successful feature articles run by the magazine, titled “Kurumaisu Hitori Aruki” (Going out solo in a wheelchair), a man with cerebral palsy recounted his experience of going out unaccompanied by a caregiver.

At a train station, he was denied boarding by a railway worker who told him, “You can’t ride the train unattended.” And a passer-by muttered, “You’d be happier dead.”

Hidetada Kawano, who remained the magazine’s chief editor until the final 91st issue came out, died on Sept. 8. He was 74.

An old friend of Kawano’s, surprised by this outcome, noted with feeling: “He had just seen to the publication of the final issue. He and the magazine died together.”

Kawano once told The Asahi Shimbun: “Any society that requires you to have an iron will to survive is as cold as iron. ... What society cannot do without are water, electricity, gas and welfare. ... Unless you keep your heart’s antenna fully attuned, you won’t catch happiness that blows past you like the wind.”

His simple but profound remarks came across as those of an anti-establishment philosopher.

Over the 38 years the magazine remained in publication, the lives of disabled people have become less constricting, slowly but steadily. But even today, they are still subjected to certain inconveniences when they try to board a train or plane. And there are reports of harm being done to residents of care homes for disabled people.

I wonder when a light breeze will finally blow throughout our society.

--The Asahi Shimbun, Sept. 14

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Vox Populi, Vox Dei is a popular daily column that takes up a wide range of topics, including culture, arts and social trends and developments. Written by veteran Asahi Shimbun writers, the column provides useful perspectives on and insights into contemporary Japan and its culture.