From Refugee to Rowing Coach, a Cambodian Finds His Place on the Water

Since his early school days, Kenji Kuraki remembers being shunned by his classmates, called names and even discriminated against by a teacher. The bullying was the result of prejudice against him and his identity, he says.

Kuraki was born Roeum Reth in 1982 at the Khao-I-Dang Holding Center, a Cambodian refugee camp in Thailand. He immigrated to Japan with his parents when he was 4 years old. By the age of 5, his left leg was paralyzed by the poliovirus, he says.

As an immigrant and person living with a physical impairment in Japanese society, Kuraki says it was like having a “double disability.”

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