【Report】7th BreakTalks “Bouldering for Everyone” – Special Event for International Women’s Day (March 8, 2023)

On March 8th, we hosted the 7th BreakTalks with Sumitomo Corporation (*1) as a special event for International Women’s Day. We invited professional climber Mr. Kai Harada as a speaker, a representative of Japan in the Tokyo 2020 Olympics, whom Sumitomo sponsors. Within this event we welcomed nineteen participants.

Mr. Harada won the bouldering event at the 2018 World Championships and is a leading climber in Japan, representing the country in the Tokyo 2020 Olympics. He believes in “Overcoming Oneself” and trains daily. He also promotes and shares his passion for climbing through various media.

The event began with a talk session between Mr. Harada and moderator Orime from S.C.P. Japan. Mr. Harada began by explaining that bouldering is one of three disciplines in sports climbing, in which one climbs walls between 4 and 5 meters in height, using only their body, without any equipment.

When Mr. Harada was young, he happened to stop by at a climbing facility. He was immediately drawn to the sport as he saw that everyone, regardless of gender or age, was enjoying themselves. “Before competitions, what we athletes do is to discuss the climbing routes together. I think this sums up what the sport is all about. It’s really special.”

Climbing was more than just a sport to Mr. Harada, who was raised in a single-parent household. He says the climbing got him through the tough period. “It was hard growing up, but I always looked forward to practicing with my friends at the gym. I have been actively working with non-profit organizations that support children, because I want to give the same opportunities to other young people.”

Interestingly, climbing is said to be a sport where the difference between men and women is not felt as much. “It is often the case that women perform better than men on the same climbing challenge,” says Mr. Harada. Climbing seems like a good sport that women can challenge themselves.

After the talk, two panellists joined the discussion; Ms. Yui Shirai, who is organizing climbing outreach activities for people with disabilities at Monkey Magic, and Ms. Yuiko Inoue, who oversees a sports program for girls with disabilities at S.C.P. Japan.

With the motto “We can overcome invisible walls,” Monkey Magic started as a climbing school for people with visual impairments. They introduced their unique method called “HKK” for conveying the position of the holds to visually impaired climbers. They now welcome participants with other disabilities as well.

Meanwhile, Ms. Inoue said it’s not always easy for girls with disabilities to participate in sports. “When offering sports classes for children with disabilities (for both genders), we have overwhelmingly more boys than girls. We thought we’d need a different way to reach out to girls.”  S.C.P. Japan’s “Find Fun” sports program was then designed for girls with intellectual and developmental disabilities, and it has been successful with about ten participants attending each time.

Mr. Harada also shared that climbing is a sport where physical abilities or gender of the athlete does not define their performance. “Climbing provides a space where individuals can challenge themselves while also supporting and helping each other.”

Concluding the event, all agreed on the importance of providing both a safe and enjoyable space for physical activity, where individuals can challenge themselves while also feeling supported.

S.C.P. Japan aims to create a platform for diversity and inclusivity through BreakTalks, inviting various guests and showcasing different activities.

This BreakTalks event was made possible through the support of Sumitomo Corporation. A member of Sumitomo’s 100SEED program(*2), which encourages social entrepreneurship, kindly provided assistance for S.C.P. Japan and that is how it started.

■ For details on the support provided to S.C.P. Japan by Sumitomo Corporation’s pro bono team, please click here (Japanese):

We would like to express our sincere gratitude to Mr. Harada, Ms. Shirai, Sumitomo Corporation, the sign language interpreters, and all the participants.

*1 Since 2018, Sumitomo Corporation has been sponsoring the Japan Mountaineering and Sport Climbing Association as a “gold sponsor”. In 2019, they signed a sponsorship contract with Mr. Kai Harada.

Sport Climbing | Sumitomo Corporation: https://www.sumitomocorp.com/ja/jp/special/climbing

*2 Sumitomo Corporation’s “100SEED” is a social contribution program in which Sumitomo Corporation group employees from around the world engage in dialogue and actively participate to address educational challenges in their respective local communities under the theme of “quality education.”

【Report】6th BreakTalks “Ethical Choices” (September 22, 2022)

S.C.P. Japan held its sixth BreakTalks event on Thursday, September 22, 2022. We welcomed Mr. Tetsuji Inaba as a speaker, who gave a talk on “Ethical Choices.”

Mr. Inaba dropped out of Tokyo University after attending the prestigious Kaisei High School and experienced a period of social withdrawal. He later used the experience to work for a HR company in Saison Group where he was responsible for NPO collaboration projects. He has since worked for Hitachi Group in new business development, as well as starting a company that supports youth careers, and as a HR consultant.  He has also worked for Japan’s largest human resources and HR media company, managing their HR community group.

He now runs an ethical select shop “Ethical-Ya” in Kamakura, as well as being the editor-in-chief of “Circular HR,” a media outlet focused on circular economy, human resources, and work styles. He also serves as a board member of NPO Gewel, which promotes diversity and inclusion, and as a facilitator for World Cafe and OST. He is active in the social enterprise sector, focusing on ethical business. He is hoping to change the way people and society interact through business, producing ethical fashion shows and incubating social enterprises.

The Breaktalk event began with Orime from S.C.P. Japan briefly sharing the reason on why the topic should be discussed, then Mr. Inaba gave the talk, followed by Q&As.

What is Ethical?

Mr. Inaba began by asking, “What is ethical?” He said the reason why we need to think about this now is because the structure of society has changed. “In the past, mass production, mass consumption, and mass disposal were the norm. We made a lot, used a lot, and threw away a lot. The logic also applied to the living. Livestock farming has moved away from humane methods and became industrialized, focusing solely on productivity and profit. Climate change is largely caused by deforestation and arrogant human behaviour. The time has come to change the way we do things, to protect the limited natural resources. We may be at a last turning point towards a sustainable future.”

SDGs and sustainability

You may have known that Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) have been set by the United Nations, as many companies have recently been promoting these targets. Not many people are aware, however, that the UN had previously set Millennium Development Goals (MDGs). The difference between the two is that MDGs are more focused on how developed countries solve the problems of developing countries, while SDGs are about everyone being an equal stakeholder in achieving a more sustainable future.

What is the difference between “sustainable” and “ethical”?

While many people confuse these two words, Mr. Inaba points out that there are clear differences. “Sustainability” is, so to speak, the hard aspect. It is a mechanism for creating a better society, a system or business model in the way society works. On the other hand, “ethical” is the soft aspect. It is a code of conduct based on ethics, or values.

Mr. Inaba introduced an example of the Amish in the United States. The Amish are known to deliberately distance themselves from technology and still live the way they had lived hundreds of years ago. Their lifestyle is much more sustainable than the rest of the society. So, would it mean, we should all live like the Amish, going back to the Edo period? ”No,” says Mr. Inaba. What we can learn from them, he says, is the importance of balancing our actions considering the environment, science, technology, and culture. As it is increasingly becoming evident that we cannot carry on living the way we are, we must now think about how we can transition to a sustainable future.

Mr. Inaba says, if we create a mechanism to make a more sustainable future, being ethical is the decision we all must make as individuals. It is about our own ways of being, how we relate to others and society, which is unique for each person.

“There are so many things to think about here, even a single mobile phone or computer that we use every day. Take a nice piece of clothing you just bought, for example. Nice, it may be, but it could have been produced in a sewing factory in Bangladesh, where workers are suffering under the most inhumane working conditions, just like the “Rana Plaza tragedy(*1)”.  Or the apparel store clerk you bought that from may be working long hours, barely earning minimum wage. Things are never simple in this day and age. Everything is interconnected.”

Mr. Inaba cited the words of Yvon Chouinard, the founder of Patagonia.

“If you know about the problems happening in the world but do nothing about it, you become part of the problem. But if you have the courage to take action, you become part of the solution.”

Yvon Chouinard, the founder of Patagonia

*1 “Rana Plaza tragedy: On April 24, 2013, a commercial building called “Rana Plaza” collapsed in Savar, about 20 kilometers northwest of the capital Dhaka, Bangladesh. It is known worldwide as the largest incident related to the sewing industry. The number of people who died in the collapse of the building was over 1,100. The number of injured was over 2,500, and the number of missing was over 500. The cause of the collapse was due to the vibration of the sewing machine and the generator, and there were cracks and suspension orders had been served, but the owner of the building continued operations, resulting in the loss of many lives that should have been protected. Illegal expansion is also considered one of the causes.

Don’t be afraid of the change

Being ethical is not the same as being environmentally friendly, Mr. Inaba emphasized. “It’s a question of how you live your life, to create a better future. The idea is to decide what kind of future you want to create, based on your own value, and take responsibility for the changes that may come with it.”

He gave an example from an ethical fashion show he has produced.

A woman may choose to wear vegan fashion, such as eco-fur, or kapok. There may be many reasons why she has chosen vegan fashion. It could be animal welfare, health, or the environment. Some may argue, however, that rejecting meat and fur outright is nonsense as we humans are also part of the same ecosystem. Another woman may choose to wear sheepskin garment. She may be doing so to support African countries where they are produced. In this case, she has chosen the products for the cause of “international cooperation”, but this goes directly against other causes like “veganism” or “supporting local produce”. This is just one example of conflicting values.

The thing is that these women are simply acting according to their own values. Although ideas appear to be conflicting, they don’t need to be one way or the other. The purpose of creating a better future is the common ground here, despite seemingly opposite values. Contradictory values can co-exist, by searching for compromises and better solutions, as we live in an intricate interconnectivity of the world today.

Mr. Inaba says that “ethical” is a code of conduct that anyone can follow, and there is no such thing as wrong choice. “It is about knowing how things are connected around you and make choices that lead to a better future and social good.”

By understanding the conflict and thinking about ways to improve it, we can create a better system, where everyone can find a position that they are happy with.


Through this lecture and discussion, everyone could gain insights on how to think about making “ethical choices” and obtain tips on how to do so. We hope for a better future, with all of us deciding on our own values and taking actions toward the vision.

SCP Japan will continue introducing a variety of guests and activities through BreakTalks and create a place where diverse people can gather, and opportunities to think about a more diverse and inclusive society.

We would like to express our sincere gratitude to Mr. Inaba. We would also like to thank the staff organizing the event, the sign language interpreters, and all the participants.

【Report】5th BreakTalks “Trans Woman and Sports Fields” (June 29, 2022) 

On Wednesday, June 29, S.C.P Japan held a fifth BreakTalks. This time, we invited Ms. Shuna Matsumoto, who has been working as an athletic performance coach in Y.S.C.C Yokohama (as of June 2022), as our guest speaker. She was born in Germany, and after learning about coaching in Germany and the United States, she has been a track and field coach as well as an athletic performance coach for over 20 years. In 2020, she  publicly came out as a trans woman (*1).

This time during BreakTalks, Ms. Shuna shared with us her experiences and perspectives, working life, and things that are important in the sports fields and society for a while. Her story made everyone discuss a few topics such as “Transgender and Sports” and “Transgender and Society.”

Before the guest talk, Orime, a member of S.C.P Japan, explained the current situations/facts and issues related to “Trans women and Sports Field.”

In November 2021, the IOC announced a new framework related to the participation of  transgender athletes in sports: “IOC Framework on Fairness, Inclusion, and Non-Discrimination on the Basis of Gender Identity and Sex Variations.” In this framework, the IOC stated that there would be no regulations that would define the common criteria for gender categories for each sport with regard to the participation of athletes in competitions. This new framework also stated that each sport and its governing body would determine the criteria, taking into account the nature of each sport. As an example, the recent new rule of the International Swimming Federation (FINA) on the participation of transgender people was presented, which resulted in the limitation of the participation of transgender women in the women’s category.

In addition, we touched on the participation of LGBTQ+ (*2) people whose sports skills are at a general level. Due to the lack of sufficient knowledge about LGBTQ+ individuals and the structure and mechanics of sports based on gender binary, LGBTQ+ youth, especially nonbinary (*3) youth, there have been reports of lower participation in sports.

Looking at these facts, we can say that the participation of LGBTQ+ people in sports still has a lot of challenges. On the other hand, the Tokyo Olympics not only featured 222 LGBTQ+ athletes (as of August 2021), but Laurel Hubbard became the first transgender athlete to compete at the Olympics in the gender category to that which they identify with.

Hubbard’s participation in the Tokyo Olympics visualized transgender people, as she became a role model for young people, bringing diverse communication among sports fields and society. Through the game, LGBTQ+ athletes, including Hubbard, conveyed a lot of messages for the future of the sporting world and youth. 

Afterward, Torizuka, who has been working for S.C.P. Japan as an intern, interviewed the guest speaker, Shuna Matsumoto, about her experiences, thoughts, and feelings that led her to officially come out as a transwoman, as well as things that she would like to see in today’s society and sports world.

*1 Transgender is a term that refers to people who feel a discrepancy between the sex they were born with and the sex they self-identify. Among them, people who wish to be closer to their true gender both physically and mentally are called transsexuals. Trans women mean transgender, including transsexual, whose physicality as male and their gender identity as female do not match.

*2 LGBTQ+ takes the initials that stand for Lesbian (a person who identifies as a woman or feels a connection to womanhood who is attracted to women.), Gay (a person who identifies as a man or feels a connection to manhood who is attracted to men), Bisexual (a person who is attracted to two or more gender identities), Transgender (a person whose gender identity does not match their sex assigned at birth.), Queer (a person whose gender identity or sexual orientation does not correspond to established ideas of majority), Questioning (a person who does not know, cannot decide, or does not decide their sexual orientation or gender identity), and + (plus) represents the diverse range of sexualities and gender identities that do not fit into the LGBTQ categories listed above. 

*3 Nonbinary refers to a person who does not identify their gender within the binary gender system (i.e. woman/man).

Ms. Shuna’s Sports and Coaching Experiences

“When I was 12, I started track and field in Germany, where I spent my childhood. As Germany has good coaching licensing systems, clubs whose coaches have the license earn high reputations, which leads to an increase in club membership, and some areas offer subsidies for coaches with the license, teams are active to develop coaches. 

Having played track and field in such a good environment, I worked as an assistant for coaches in the club that I belonged to from the age of 14. With a main coach, I earned coaching knowledge and skills through first-hand experiences in the club. After that, I studied coaching at Athletes’ Performance (now EXOS) in the United States. Several policies of the organization such as “training that never makes a difference between men and women” and “the focus on training a move rather than muscles” inspired me to study coaching there. I believe my duty and importance of coaching is to develop players I taught to a level in which the players can become coaches.”

The Process of Coming Out and the Reactions of People around Her

In my childhood, I was not really thinking about my gender identity (Gender identity: a person’s internal, deeply held sense of their gender. It doesn’t necessarily correspond to one’s physical structure.). That is partly because people around me naturally accepted my long hair and pretty, girlish face. My unestablished gender identity has changed to female as I grow up.  Having revealed my gender identity in Germany, I worked as a woman for a year. However, since I had not made big results in my work and I was facing many other challenges at the time, I gave up telling people around me about my gender identity. Then I moved to Japan in 2013. The new life in Japan was hard, but I noticed that I could be myself when wearing skirts. On the other hand, though I had been wearing makeup and nails for some time,  I was anxious about what everyone would think of me and lived my life always thinking of reasons for wearing makeup, such as using foundation to cover rough skin, so I could explain when I was asked about it. Even doing so, I still wanted to come out, and around the second year at Y.S.C.C Yokohama, I slowly began to live my life a little more openly by posting pictures on Instagram that everyone would realize that I’m a transgender and by wearing more makeup than before.

While thinking about when to express my feelings at Y.S.C.C Yokohama, the head coach brought it up to me first, and the process naturally led me to come out. After that, the head coach explained to the club. I also learned later that the head coach had explained my gender identity to the players without my knowledge. The other male coaches at the club might be considerate of me and would not come in when I was changing in the locker room. Y.S.C.C. Yokohama has players with diverse backgrounds. Maybe that’s why I feel that the team is willing to accept people from all walks of life and not be critical or conservative with people, including me. ”

Transgender Athletes and Sports

“When I was doing track and field, I had no aversion to play as a male athlete. Even now, I have a desire to compete in the men’s category when I do athletics. In the mixed events in track and fields that I was working on, the number of events were different based on gender: decathlon for men and heptathlon for women. I prefer decathlon to heptathlon, for decathlon has more events and I am more used to it. I would like to participate in the decathlon as a female athlete, if possible. Also, in track and field, both men and women train together and work off the same training menus. So, I never felt uncomfortable about gender. In addition, while doing athletics, I never thought about my gender identity as I was so focused on the competition (This may be different from other transgender people).

I am openly transgender. Being a transgender does not prevent me from doing my job because I can compete as a coach regardless of gender thanks to my record as an athlete and coaching achievements to this day. On the other hand, athletes may not be able to continue competing due to the “gender” category, so trans athletes are in a really hard situation. However, we can change these situations in a lot of ways such as changing rules and establishing clear rules about gender categories.”

After the guest talk session in the first half, the second half was dedicated to participants’ interaction with each other through an active exchange of ideas and opinions.

Ms. Shuna left a comment saying, “LGBTQ+ people also live their lives naturally. If the people around them could accept the behavior of LGBTQ+ people as natural, without treating them differently because they are lesbians or transgender, and then discrimination against others would not arise.”

She also commented, “society sometimes puts restrictions on jobs that only women can do or men can do, but if people with abilities can get jobs regardless of gender, society will change. For example, in the profession of coaching, the training menu and methods do not differ between women and men. She also touched on the way she interacts with others, commenting, “When I teach kids in a club, professional athletes, athletes who have participated in the Paralympics and won medals, I always feel that I am teaching ‘athletes’regardless of disabilities or ages.”  

We would like to express our sincere thanks to the 15 participants from different backgrounds and to all those who were involved and supported the event.

We also would also like to extend a sincere and big thank you to Ms. Shuna for participating in this event and sharing her story and thoughts, with the volunteers, sign language interpreters, and all the participants.