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Children in Tokyo create 'citrus ribbons' in bid to end coronavirus discrimination

Students create "citrus ribbons" using yellow and yellow-green construction paper at Tokyo San-iku Elementary School in Nerima Ward, Tokyo, on Jan. 26, 2021. (Mainichi/Kaho Kitayama)
A child creates a "citrus ribbon" using yellow and yellow-green construction paper at San-iku Elementary School in Nerima Ward, Tokyo, on Jan. 26, 2021. (Mainichi/Kaho Kitayama)

TOKYO -- Children made "citrus ribbons" out of yellow and yellow-green construction paper at an elementary school in Japan's capital on Jan. 26 in an effort to eliminate discrimination and prejudice against medical personnel who are fighting the new coronavirus and those who have been infected.

    The citrus ribbon movement is spreading among local governments and schools across the country. It was conceived in April last year by university professors and business executives in Ehime Prefecture who felt uncomfortable about discrimination associated with the coronavirus. It was named after citrus fruit, a specialty of the western Japan prefecture.

    The three ribbon rings, designed using a decorative knot as a reference, represent "community, home, and workplace (or school)," respectively, and aim to create an environment where people can say "I'm home" and "welcome home" to each other, even amid the coronavirus pandemic.

    In October last year, Tokyo San-iku Elementary School in Nerima Ward took on ribbon making for the first time in arts and crafts classes.

    On Jan. 26, in the 4th grade class, Sachiko Nagano, an arts and crafts teacher, said, "Prejudice means 'casting someone out of a group.' Let's hope that these ribbons will help people make a strong bond with anyone." The students taught each other how to make their pieces, asking each other, "Will this make everyone smile?"

    After making the ribbons, Yui Saito, 10, wrote on her impression sheet, "I want to cheer up those who are suffering from the coronavirus and those who are sad because of discrimination."

    Principal Makoto Hirata said, "I would like to continue this project because it not only raises awareness of the need to create an environment free of discrimination, but also provides an opportunity for elementary school students to perform community service."

    The ribbons made by the children this time will be presented to the National Center for Global Health and Medicine in the capital's Shinjuku Ward, which accepts coronavirus patients, and other organizations as early as next month.

    (Japanese original by Kaho Kitayama, Photo Group)

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