TOKYO, June 19 /PRNewswire/ --

The 8th United Nations Human Rights Council in Geneva, Switzerland has unanimously approved a resolution tabled by Japan, entitled "Elimination of Discrimination Against Persons Affected by Leprosy and their Family Members." 58 countries, including China, have co-sponsored the resolution. The resolution is the result of repeated appeals on the issue by Nippon Foundation Chairman Yohei Sasakawa.

However, in preparation for the Beijing Olympics, China has also published "A Guideline to Chinese Law for Foreigners Coming to, Leaving or Staying in China During the Olympics," which bars people affected by leprosy from entering the country during the games. Please refer to this website:

Leprosy is an easily curable disease that has already been eliminated in 120 countries around the world. In addition, it is only very slightly contagious, and 99 percent of the people in the world have a natural immunity to it.

The recent entry ban does not take these facts into consideration, and is a violation of the human rights, not only of people affected by leprosy, but their families as well, promoting discrimination and stigma. Chairman Yohei Sasakawa, in his role as World Health Organization Special Ambassador for the Elimination of Leprosy and Japan's Goodwill Ambassador for the Human Rights of People Affected by Leprosy, sees this as a very serious issue and has sent a letter of appeal to Chinese Premier Hu Jintao, President Liu Qi of the Beijing Organizing Committee for the Games of the XXIX Olympiad, and International Olympic Committee President Jaques Rogge, requesting that the rule be repealed.

The entry ban by the Beijing Organizing Committee is in contravention of the UN Human Rights Council resolution that the Chinese national government recently co-sponsored, and promotes misunderstanding about the disease, as well as deepening the human rights violations perpetrated on people affected by leprosy and their families. It is urged that the Chinese government and the Beijing Organizing Committee for the Games of the XXIX Olympiad take positive measures to rectify this situation.

Contact: Keiko Mori The Nippon Foundation Tel: +81-3-6229-5131 E-mail:

Keiko Mori, The Nippon Foundation, +81-3-6229-5131,