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Photographic Exhibition “Positive Energies” Project

Photographer Fumio Nabata has executing a project to photograph children with Down syndrome
in various countries and organize a photo exhibition with a focus on their positive energies.

●Overview of Photo Exhibition

Fumio Nabata, a Japanese photographer, has traveled around the world photographing the positive energy of young children with Down syndrome and their families. The project demonstrates that everyone, regardless of disability, has an attractive personality and is a member of a co-living society.

2023 United Nations Headquarters Exhibition

He started the project of photographing children with Down syndrome and running photo exhibitions around the world under the theme ‘positive energy’. Mr Nabata has taken photographs in Japan, Britain, Myanmar, and South Africa since 2014.

The first “Positive Energies” photo exhibition was held in London in 2018, where he collaborated with Richard Bailey and Fiona Yaron-Field, British photographers who have also taken pictures of people with Down syndrome. The second collaborative exhibition with Richard Bailey was held in Tokyo in 2021, the year of the Tokyo Olympic and Paralympic Games. and The third exhibition was held at the United Nations Headquarters in New York in June 2023 as a solo exhibition by Fumio Nabata.

● The Significance of Project

1. We aim to transform people's consciousness towards people with disabilities.

One of the concepts of the Tokyo 2021 Olympic and Paralympic Games was “Unity in Diversity.” The world is moving forward to foster inclusive society where all people can coexist. However, it is perceived in theory but not reflected to the society in Japan. In reality, there is still a barrier to social life because of physical and intellectual disabilities. As a result, limited point of contact results in psychological barrier between people and further to be an obstacle for a symbiotic society.
“Positive Energies” shall present the pictures of children with Down syndrome interviewed around the world who are happily living with their families, grown up and work, or dedicate themselves in various sports. We deliver messages that they are surely the members of our co-living global society with diverse identity and magnetism.

2. We would like to deliver Positive Energies for anxious pregnant women.

A girl with down syndrome in Myanmar

Since new prenatal diagnosis test to detect the chromosomal ab
normalities of a fetus has been introduced in the field of obstetrics past few years, many expecting mothers choose to take the test. Now, 90% in UK and 96% in Japan of the examinees who’s babies were diagnosed as Down Syndrome choose abortion. (Reference: BBC, UK. Mainichi Newspaper, Japan.) Several academic societies concerns that “the result of the test may lead to the selection of lives”.
Under these circumstances, many mothers and her families are facing severe fact and choices whether to accept the baby with disabilities to the family or not. In those difficult circumstances, we would like to propose another option as one of positive choices by presenting photos of the children and grown-ups with full of positive energy who are living in the real society throughout the world.

When the first photo exhibition was held in London in 2018, there were many comments from visitors that the exhibition brought smile and moved their heart. UK is said to be highly conscious of diversity. We received a comment from a pregnant woman who was waiting for the results of a prenatal diagnosis: “I was pretty sure that I would have my child no matter what, coming across this exhibition by chance felt like a sign to me that my thinking was not wrong.”

●Purpose of Project

A girl with down syndrome in Japan

“Positive Energies” shall pursue and aim the changes of the people's understanding and awareness towards the people with disabilities, and try to eradicate the prejudice towards disabilities not by just highlighting the disability itself and get sympathy, but giving hope and joy by presenting works full of positive energies of the children.

Our fundamental purpose of this project is based upon the Act 8 of UNCRPD Awareness-raising, which is “To raise awareness throughout society, including at the family level, regarding persons with disabilities, and to foster respect for the rights and dignity of persons with disabilities.”

●Project History

Photographer Fumio Nabata had an incidental encounter in 2013 with a disability rights activist in the UK led me to have the opportunity to photograph children with disabilities in Japan. Up until that point, I had little contact with people with disabilities nor enough knowledge of them.

A girl with down syndrome in Japan

Surprisingly, when I photographed a 6-year-old girl with Down syndrome for the first time, her strong positive energy had a profound impact on me, completely changing my perception of individuals with disabilities. As I continued to photograph her, the pure heart of her drew me in and comforted my own. I discovered that not only she, but children from any country possess the same power. Moreover, their families were filled with love and overflowing with smiles. I was deeply impressed by the strong feeling of unity within families centered around those children. I felt that their pure souls were influencing people around them.

There are still various perceptions and misconceptions regarding diversity. We believe that by using photography as a means to convey the positive energy and purity of their hearts, it has the potential to contribute to the 'raising of awareness' and help in promoting a better understanding of diversity.


Encounter with Mr. David Tawell, a advocacy activist for the people with disabilities (London in 2013)

Photo Shooting a child with Down Syndrome for the first time (March 2014, Kyoto, Japan)

The first meeting with a British photographer Mr. Richard Bailey.(Tokyo in 2014)

Photo Shooting in U.K (Bath in 2014)

Collaboration with Richard Bailey came to adecision.(London in 2014)

Launched a project to photograph children with Down syndrome (2016.4 Osaka, Japan)

Visiiting Myanmar Down Syndrome Association (Yangon in 2016)

Photo Shooting in Myanmar (2016.9 Yangon)

Photo shooting in South Africa (September 2017, visiting the Down Syndrome South Africa in Pretoria)

Photo Shooting in South Africa (Pretoria in Sep, 2017)

I had a meeting with Mr. Richard Bailey (left) Ms. Fiona Yaron-Field (middle) with whom I collaborates. (London in Sep 2017

Officially booked Oxo Gallery for photo exhibition in UK (Sep, 2017, London)

Coverage of Kansai TV “NEWS Runner”
(Kyoto in 2018)

Symposium: "Positive Energies" Pre-event
~Toward the Society where to live together~“ (Osaka in 2018)

London exhibition held (May 2018, London)

Held a symposium as a side event of the London exhibition (May 2018, London)


UN Headquarters Exhibition to be held in March 2020 (Aug 2019)

Japan exhibition will be held in Tokyo and Osaka in July and September 2020 (2019.10)

Postponement of the UN Exhibition and the Tokyo/Osaka Exhibition is decided due to the Covit19 (2020.3)

The postponed Japanese exhibition will be held at Shibuya Hikarie in July 2021 (2021.3)

The postponed UN exhibition will be held at UN Headquarters in New York in June 2023 (2021.3)

2013. 2: A chance encounter with Mr. David Towell, an activist for people with disabilities, during a business trip to the UK, became the impetus for photographing children with disabilities.
2014. 3: He photographed a 6-year-old girl with Down syndrome for the first time through a referral from a rehabilitation center in Kyoto Prefecture. be struck by its positive energy.
2014. 3: A chance encounter with photographer Richard Bailey at the photo exhibition “Down Syndrome Family Gaze - Shifting Perspectives -” held in Aoyama, Tokyo.
2014. 7: Launched "Photo Exhibition Project for Children with Disabilities Around the World."
2014.10: Photographed a 5-year-old boy with Down syndrome who became famous as a child model for a major British department store in Bath, England.
2016. 6: NPO Osaka US Club decided to support the project for 5 years until 2020
2016. 9: Photo Shooting in Myanmar (cooperation: Myanmar Down Syndrome Association)
2016. 9:Traveling to the UK, collaboration with British photographer Richard Bailey came to decision.(London in 2014)
2017. 4: A collaboration with Fiona Yaron-Field, who takes pictures of pregnant women who have decided to give birth to a baby with Down syndrome, has been decided as a member of the London photo exhibition.
2017. 6: London photo exhibition has been decided to gallery OXO
2017. 9: Photo Shooting in South Africa (cooperation: Down Syndrome South Africa)
2017.11: The Great Britain Sasakawa Foundation and The Daiwa Anglo-Japanese Foundation decide to grant the London photo exhibition
2018. 1: Kansai Television news program "News Runner" started covering close coverage of photographer Fumio Nahata.
2018. 1: Received a letter of recommendation for the London photo exhibition from Mrs. Akie Abe, First Lady of Japan
2018. 3: Held a symposium "Towards a Society Where People Can Live Together and Live Happily -Relationship between Down Syndrome and Society-" held in Osaka as a pre-event for the London Photo Exhibition (Organized by the Osaka US Club)
2018. 3: Kansai TV "News Runner" special feature "The power of a smile to convey, a photographer who takes Down's syndrome" broadcast
2018. 5: Held the first Photographic Exhibition “Positive Energies” (London in 2018)
2018. 5: A symposium was held in London as a side event of the London Photo Exhibition (Organized by Japan Society London)
2018..8: Dentsu Inc. Diversity Lab will be able to cooperate in recruiting sponsors.
2019. 3: Established Photo Exhibition Positive Energies Executive Committee
2019. 6: Mr. Toshiyuki Niwa, Former Deputy Executive Director of the United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEFF), was appointed as a special advisor to the Executive Committee.
2019. 8: The executive committee conducted an online questionnaire on "clothes that are easy for children with disabilities to wear." As a result, approximately 3,200 responses were obtained. Based on that data, we proposed the development of clothing to a domestic apparel company (then, in September 2020, a major apparel company released a product line of rompers and other products up to 160 sizes).
2019. 8: The second photo exhibition will be held at the United Nations Headquarters in New York in March 2020, in conjunction with the UN International Day "World Down Syndrome Day".
2019.10: Japan exhibition will be held at Shibuya Hikarie (Tokyo) in July 2020 and Hug Museum (Osaka) in September
2020. 3: The Japan Exhibition (Tokyo and Osaka) and the United Nations Exhibition has decided to postpone due to the COVID-19.
2020.11: Positive Energies Hiroshima Exhibition (Organized by NPO nicoloop) will be held at the Hiroshima Prefectural Museum of Art in February 2021
2021. 1: Positive Energies Hiroshima Exhibition has decided to postpone due to the COVID-19.
2021. 3: The postponed Japanese exhibition will be held in Shibuya, Tokyo in July 2021.
2021. 8: Photo exhibition "Positive Energies" held at Shibuya Hikarie, Tokyo
2022. 3: Held a lecture “Towards a society where people can live together and live happily” in Osaka as an event for World Down Syndrome Day.
2022.10: The postponed UN exhibition will be held in June 2023
2023. 6: Photo exhibition "Positive Energies" held at the United Nations Headquarters in New York.