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【ESSAY】地球うおっちんぐ

ヒーローの名を借りて

By Agnes Chan

 この冬、漫画『タイガーマスク』の主人公「伊達直人」を名乗る人物から、日本各地の児童養護施設などに、金品の寄付が相次ぎました。日本ユニセフ協会の親善大使を務めるアグネスさんはこの運動について、目立つことが嫌いな人々が、寄付やチャリティー活動を始めるにあたっての最初の壁を取り払う、良いきっかけになるのではないかと指摘。また、これまで見過ごされがちだった支援を必要とする日本の子供たちに光を当てたと評価しています。そして、この運動が一過性とならず、息の長い援助活動へつながっていくよう、心から願うと話しています。

 During the winter holidays, a wonderful phenomenon took place in Japan when somebody using the name of the popular manga character Tiger Mask sent new backpacks to children in child protective facilities.

 There are more than 30,000 children in these institutions in Japan, of which 50 percent are victims of child abuse, while the other half are children whose parents are unable to care for them. The main character in "Tiger Mask" was also raised in one of these facilities, and through hard work, he became a famous wrestler. With his purses, he bought gifts and sent them to children living in institutions.

 When the anonymous donor's action became news, more and more people began to adopt this method of donating. They sent backpacks, food, stationery and even money to facilities all over Japan. The phenomenon spread like a warm breeze, warming the hearts of people.

 "Tiger Mask" was popular in the 1970s and '80s. I watched it on TV as a teenager, and people who are familiar with this character are probably about my age. Now we have experienced the roaring 1970s and '80s again with a new "Tiger Mask" episode.

 We were the generation that worked day and night, sacrificing everything to rebuilding the Japanese economy into the second largest in the world. We enjoyed the economic bubble and felt the pain when it burst. Now we are older and wiser, and many of us are lamenting seeing Japan as a less lenient, less happy and less energetic country.

 Somebody must have decided to do something about this depressing mood by sending a message of love. This action brought a ray of light and hope to people around Japan, reminding us that there still is a lot of kindness in the world. As part of society, we can contribute in our own ways.

 Japan has always been a generous donor to UNICEF, as private donations have ranked first for the past 10 years. Where children are concerned, people are very willing to help. There are millions of children around the world who need assistance, but the Tiger Mask phenomenon reminded us that there are also forgotten children in Japan who need our love.

チャリティー活動の第一歩

 The first step is always the hardest, and for people who are shy and have never participated in any kind of charity work, using famous animation characters can be an easy way to start. Similar to Tiger Mask, there are people who are sending donations using names of other famous characters. It is indeed a very unique and fun way to show one's concern for children.

 Some people may argue that it is always better to use real names, or it is better to contact the facilities before sending anything. I agree that donors have to be responsible for their donations, and communication with the recipient is crucial for the long-term success of charity work. But let us not pour cold water on this phenomenon before it really heats up. I wholeheartedly support the actions of these kindhearted people.

 If the relationship between the donors and recipients can become a long-term affair, so much the better. If not, it is still an act of kindness in times of need. I have visited several child protective facilities in Japan, and all were crowded and understaffed. The staffers, though devoted, are overworked, and too many children were crammed into a limited number of rooms.

 Oftentimes, because of a lack of space, children are being sent back to parents who are not fully ready for them. These early releases have sometimes led to further child abuse, so a basic assessment of the capacity of the facilities is overdue. Let us hope that the attention that the Tiger Mask phenomenon is generating will lead to a solution for all the children in Japan who need a home.

 Let us all identify ourselves with a hero or heroine, and try to learn from their actions. It may help us remember things that are important but forgotten, and it may even encourage us to carry out good deeds without feeling too self-conscious. Thanks to Tiger Mask, there will be more smiles on the faces of children in protective facilities around Japan.

  • phenomenon 現象、事象
  • child...facilities 児童養護施設
  • child abuse 児童虐待
  • purse(s) 資金。ここではプロレス試合の懸賞金
  • anonymous 匿名の
  • roaring 活気のある
  • lament(ing) 〜を悲しむ、嘆く
  • lenient 寛大な、情け深い
  • crucial 非常に重要な
  • let...on 〜に冷や水を差さないでおこう=けちをつけるのはやめよう
  • wholeheartedly 心底から
  • long-term affair 長期にわたること
  • understaffed 人手不足の
  • devoted 献身的な
  • (be) crammed into 〜に押し込められた
  • overdue 延び延びになっている
  • good deed(s) 良い行い、善行

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