‘Para-performers’ Make Dazzling Debut in Japan; Team PTW Hopes to Expand Possibilities of People with Disabilities

The Yomiuri Shimbun
Yuwa, right, and Haruki from Team PTW

Para-athletes exist in sports, so wouldn’t it be great to have “para-performers” in the entertainment world?

With that idea in mind, a Nagoya-based information technology services company contracted with a duo of performers with disabilities to support their activities.

“We want to do our best so that we can be known for our skills, rather than our disabilities,” said Yuwa, the duo’s freestyle basketball performer.

Team PTW, which debuted in March, is a duo of Yuwa and beatboxer Haruki, with Yuwa juggling two basketballs to the sound of Haruki’s beatboxing.

Yuwa, whose real name is Masakazu Mitsui, 32, from Fujisawa, Kanagawa Prefecture, was born with sensorineural hearing loss and wears hearing aids. Haruki, or Haruki Hoshino, 23, from Machida, Tokyo, has Down syndrome.

Yuwa started practicing freestyle basketball when he was in junior high school after watching a video that taught him that “performing with a ball can make people smile.” Haruki has been beatboxing since junior high school because he thought it was “fun to create new sounds.”

Yuwa founded a performance group 10 years ago with the aim of “realizing a society where everyone can have fun together, with or without disability.” Haruki joined the group and has performed at special needs schools and welfare facilities.

Pole To Win Inc., a company that supports businesses to develop and improve IT environments or digitalize workplaces, took notice of their performance and signed a contract with them.

The revised Law for Eliminating Discrimination against Persons with Disabilities came into effect on April 1, mandating that business operators provide “reasonable accommodation” to people with disabilities. Pole To Win decided to support the duo in an effort to increase awareness of diversity in the workplace. It offers Team PTW a training space and acts as a mediator for negotiations to perform at events.

“We plan to bring in more people in the future and expand the culture of ‘para-performers’ who can be active in the arts, just like athletes who compete in the Paralympics,” a spokesperson said.

PTW’s official website launched on March 27, and their information started being posted on social media. They are now busy practicing for summer events.

“By performing at various places, we’d like to convey the idea that anyone could make a career out of what they love, even with disabilities,” Yuwa said.