Friday, October 27, 2006

The dark side of Japan --- Burakumin

Japan Probe has an insightful story to tell about the dark side of Japan---the discrimination of Burakumin.
He also provides the useful links Buraku Liberation News/wiki

I was brought up in Tokyo, and I am living at Tokyo, So I am not so familiar with the issue.(The distribution of discriminated communities varied greatly from region to region. No discriminated communities were identified in the following prefectures: Hokkaido, Aomori, Iwate, Miyagi, Akita, Yamagata, Fukushima, Tōkyō, Toyama, Ishikawa and
So let me warn you that the following opinion of mine comes from the one who belongs to the majority and who has little direct experience to discriminate or to be discriminated. My only experience is when I was in the US. I sometimes felt like being discriminated because of some of Americans' attitude toward me. But most of the times. there was no problem. And it might be that I myself have unintentionally taken such an attitude as some minority consider descriminating.

In any case, anybody with rationality can understand that it is irrational and immoral to discriminate people based on the race and family origin:Just because someone has a specific trait, e.g., being male, being Yellow, being Burakumin, it does not follow that he/she has an alleged "bad" ,"weak" trait. And the constitution guarantees the equal treatment.
Article 14:
All of the people are equal under the law and there shall be no discrimination in political, economic or social relations because of race, creed, sex, social status or family origin.THE CONSTITUTION OF JAPAN

And there are other laws that prohibit the discrimination.
Besides, in individual case between private persons, the article 709 of the civil law will take care of it.

On the one hand, I don't think these legal protections are sufficient enough; on the other hand, I think too much intervention by the law will limit the freedom and democracy.
I can live with the people who thinks that Japs are sneaky and express such a opinion. I don't want to hear it , but I don't want such an people being punished by the law. It is like punishing stupid people just because they are stupid. And we should be always warned that the government authority abuse the power to oppress the freedom of expressoin. The debate about Human right bill should take this point into account.(Wow, I didnt notice there were so many comments on the article----it seems interesting.)

There are private associations of Burakumin that try to correct the discrimination.
I think that the idea is good, Such an association is essential when it comes to the issue of the minority. The minority is by definition, the minority, and hence, it is difficult to get their message across the majority, and being the minority, their opinion is often oppressed. In case of Sensei on Japan Probe, I think somebody, education board or human right section of the Gunma administration, should intervene.
In education, the attitude of teachers counts, and kids have right to be treated fairly and equally.

However, there has been some problems regarding the way they excute their policy.

The Buraku Liberation League and the Zenkairen

The Buraku Liberation League is considered one of the most militant among burakumin's rights groups. The BLL is known for its fierce "denunciation and explanation sessions", where alleged perpetrators of discriminatory actions or speech are summoned for a public hearing before a panel of activists. Early sessions were marked by occasions of violence and kidnapping, and several BLL activists have been arrested for such acts. The legality of these sessions is still disputed, but to this date the authorities have mostly turned a blind eye to them except in the more extreme cases.

In 1990, Karel van Wolferen's criticism of the BLL in his much-acclaimed book The Enigma of Japanese Power prompted the BLL to demand the publisher halt publication of the Japanese translation of the book. Van Wolferen condemned this as an international

This group is so powerful that some members abuse the power and, sometimes, even the administration has been obeying whatever they say.
The recent incident in Nara is the case in point.

Nara worker fired after 5 years on sick leave

The Yomiuri Shimbun

Nara Mayor Akira Fujiwara on Friday dismissed a 42-year-old employee of the municipal government's sanitary division who worked only eight days over five years claiming sick leave.

The mayor and Shigetada Fukui, deputy mayor, are to receive pay cuts to take responsibility for the employee's absenteeism.Yomiuri/(Oct. 28, 2006)

The person in question is an executive officer of The Buraku Liberation League and abused its power.依存症 He has been turned an blind eye because of that. This point should not be overemphasized;for, it might reproduce another prejudice, but at the same time, it should not be underestimated.

In this sense, Japanese media is to be blamed;for, the Japanese media tend to ignore this dark side of the groups that claims to be victims of Japanese society.

I think we need more nuanced discussion than ever.

No comments: