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Changing Forms of Buraku Discrimination in Contemporary Japan

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Changing Forms of Buraku Discrimination in Contemporary Japan

  1. 1. Changing Forms of Buraku Discrimination in Japan Mariko Akuzawa Research Center for Human Rights, Osaka City University Jan. 2020
  2. 2. Introduction Sharing of basic information •Anti Buraku-Discrimination Act (Dec. 2016) (Act for Promotion of Eliminating Buraku Discrimination ) The act came into force along with two other anti-discrimination acts in the same year. • anti-Hate Speech Act • Act for Eliminating Discrimination against Persons with Disabilities
  3. 3. Anti Buraku-Discrimination Act It clearly states ‟Buraku discrimination is still existing” ‟ the forms of Buraku discrimination is changing along with the development of information society”
  4. 4. What is Buraku discrimination? • Descent-based discrimination. • Discriminatory practices have survived to date. • It takes place in time of marriage, employment, or when buying real estate, etc. • UN treaty body (the Committee on the elimination of racial discrimination, CERD) recognized it as descent- based discrimination, whereas Japanese Government rejected the recognition.
  5. 5. Definition of Discrimination in UN HRs conventions • International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination (ICERD) • Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW) Article1.1 ICERD In this Convention, the term "racial discrimination" shall mean any distinction, exclusion, restriction or preference based on race, color, descent, or national or ethnic origin which has the purpose or effect of nullifying or impairing the recognition, enjoyment or exercise, on an equal footing, of human rights and fundamental freedoms in the political, economic, social, cultural or any other field of public life.
  6. 6. Equal Opportunity Act 2010 (Victoria, Australia) • EOA is Victoria's anti-discrimination law. • In Victoria it is against the law for someone to discriminate against you because of your attributes. • Article 7. 2(d) Discrimination on the basis of an attribute includes discrimination on the basis that a person is presumed to have that attribute or to have had it at any time. ➡List of attributes includes age, gender identity, sexual orientation, disability, physical features…..and “personal association with a person who is identified by reference to any of the above attributes”.
  7. 7. Origin of discrimination • Originates in feudal class hierarchy structured in 16th - 17th century. • Classes were divided into worriors, townspeople, and farmers. Burakumin were outside of the class division, assigned to official duties which were considered impure due to the Buddhist belief. →official duties and rituals “to purify the filth” • Emancipation order was issued in 1871 (Meiji period)
  8. 8. National Statistics (1993) Designated districts under Dowa Special Measures Laws • Number of Dowa districts (Buraku communities) 4442 • households in Dowa districts 298,385 / 737,198 • Population in Dowa districts 892,751 / 2,158789 • % of residents with Buraku ancestry 41.4% Prefectures with large number of districts Fukuoka 607 Hiroshima 472 Ehime 457 Hyogo 341… Prefectures with small number of districts Nagasaki 3 Yamanashi 6 Fukui 6 Aichi 9 … Average number of households/district National Ave. 67.2 Kanto region37.7 Kinki region 163.3
  9. 9. HRs awareness survey conducted by Tokyo Metropolitan government (2014) • Questionnaires were sent to randomly selected 3000 residents above 20 years old. Percentages are based on the number of respndents (n=1573). • 26.6% responded that they would make reservation about the marriage of their sons/daughters with the partners with Buraku ancestry. • 29.8% of respondents thought that marriage refusal is a still existing problem.
  10. 10. Discrimination in time of purchasing real estate? • In feudal society, social status was heredity; the outcaste populations are only allowed to marry the same social status; and freedom of movement was not allowed (except in time of marriage, adoption of child, and few other occasions). • They formed their own villages. • The village (community) as a whole was a target of discrimination. BURAKU SABETSU (community, village, or hamlet) “Euphemic expression of communities where descendants of outcasts have historically lived”
  11. 11. BURAKU SABETSU as “community- based” discrimination • it explains how present-day Buraku discrimination functions. • In modern society, people have the freedom of movement. • People migrate as a result of urbanization, economic growth, wars, natural disaster etc. • Despite the move, discrimination did not disappear, as people care more about the background of future in-laws and potential employees, as it became difficult to tell who’s who.
  12. 12. Family registry record (KOSEKI) • Family registry record (koseki) had been popularly used for background checks, as you can track the oldest family address by the records. • Public access was restricted in 1972. except eight legal professions.
  13. 13. Protection of family registry records created new forms of discrimination • When family registry record was no longer accessible, old family addresses (or even new ones) became a new indicator to judge a person’s Buraku ancestry. • It is because during the feudal period, their social class (outcast) , their official duties were fixed; they formed their own villages and basically they were not allowed to move freely (except marriage, adoption etc). • Underground sales of directories (names and locations of Buraku communities) were repeatedly detected.
  14. 14. • Present-day Buraku discrimination is primarily based on address. • A person’s address, or his/her/their parent’s are referred. • The stigmatized category of Buraku, which based first and foremost on an individual family linage has come also to depend on one’s family address. This means that people with no connection to outcaste status could be labeled as Burakumin and face discrimination. (IMADR,https://www.imadr.org/sayama/buraku.html)
  15. 15. Attitude survey in Sakai City (2015) • In Sakai City, 42.3% of respondents replied that they would avoid living within Buraku communities (either by renting an apartment or buying a house, whereas 20.4% disagreed with marriages between their children and the partners with Buraku origin. • Rejection to living in Buraku communities is almost twice as strong as rejection to a marriage.
  16. 16. Reasons of avoiding living in Buraku communities (Sakai City) • Those who replied that they would avoid living in Buraku communities(n=534)were asked their reasons of avoidance. • It was not surprising that one in four replied that “they avoid because they do not want to be mistaken for Burakumin”. • The result reflects the fact that majority citizens judge individual’s Buraku origin primarily based on the address.
  17. 17. Property value matters in Buraku discrimination? Some respondents wrote their own reasons of avoidance in an open space provided. 11 referred to the property values of the land in Buraku communities. • “Price is low, but difficult to resell the property.” • “Property value in Buraku community may decline .”
  18. 18. Use of internet • Internet had large impact on the practice of background checks. • Corresponding to the increasing users, information such as locations of local Buraku communities have been frequently posted on BBS and on social media platforms.
  19. 19. Disclosure of the list of Buraku communities • Nationwide list of Buraku communities, including names and addresses of more than 5300 communities was posted. The data was copied from the informal report of the government survey (1935)
  20. 20. •Petition was filed, and the court issued provisional disposition orders to delete the original websites. • More than two hundred individuals from the affected communities brought an action for damages in 2016.
  21. 21. Permanence, itinerancy, reproducibility of online postings • Although the court ordered deletion of the website, the directory of Buraku communities is still accessible on different mirror sites. • internet postings have permanence and itinerancy, and even the content is removed, the same information would be found elsewhere on a different online space; and when a website is shut down, it can be quickly re- opened using a web-hosting services with less stricter regulations. (Gagliardone et, al. 2015)
  22. 22. Psychological damages of victims • The longer the lists stay on the websites, the more the psychological pressure would be inflicted upon the victims, as it permanently circulates and incalculable number of anonymous viewers would see it. • Significant anxiety of potential discrimination to them and their family members. • Insecurities may reinforce silence and invisibility of the minorities in our society.
  23. 23. Impact of social media platforms • Wiki was used to disseminate the directory of Buraku communities. • Wiki allowed multiple users to modify the content. More information has been added onto the website by “anonymous” users (with the use of Tor) . Not only the use of digitalized media characterizes present-day discrimination, but “digitalized interaction” (Lawson-Borders 2003) does.
  24. 24. How can we teach younger generation ? • When taught about Buraku discrimination, students google for more information, frequently end up with viewing those harmful websites. • If the students repeatedly view those websites out of curiosity, they may be caught up in a filter bubble of discriminatory community.
  25. 25. New discourse of discrimination • Outright expressions of prejudice still exist, while “new” type of racist expressions are growing. • “New” expressions do not take outright racist words but endorses intolerance through seemingly political dissent, using “rights languages”.
  26. 26. Such as, “discrimination no longer exists, but the minorities are keep saying that discrimination still exists. They are saying so to draw special privileges from the authorities”. • Such expressions are justified as “freedom of speech”. • Prejudice is rationalized as a concern for justice • Political dissent? ―It is difficult to convict this “new” expression being discriminatory.
  27. 27. Similar to “modern” or “symbolic” racism” ? • The “new” racial expressions look similar to the modern (or symbolic) racism discourse? • Racism is no longer a continuing problem. • The failure of (any minority) to progress is a result of their unwillingness to work hard. • They are demanding too much. • They get more than they deserve . Is sense of threat that minorities are violating traditional white American values (hard work, independence, meritocracy etc.) connected to symbolic racism? If the similar expressions are getting powerful in Japan, what are the traditional Japanese values deemed threatened by minorities ?
  28. 28. References: Akuzawa, Mariko. (2016) Changing Patterns of Discrimination in Japan: Rise of Hate Speech and Exclusivism on the Internet, and the Challenges to Human Rights Education. In Taiwan Human Rights Journal. 3(4): 37-50. Gagliardone et.al. (2015) Countering Online Hate Speech. UNESCO Series on Internet Freedom. UNESCO. Henry, P. J. & Sears.D.O. (2008). Moore, J. H., ed. Symbolic and Modern Racism. Encyclopedia of race and racism. Volume 3 (1st ed.). Macmillan. 111–112. International Movement Against All Forms of Discrimination and Racism (n.d.) Buraku Discrimination. http://www.imadr.org/sayama/buraku.html retrieved on Jan.28, 2020. Lawson-Borders, G. (2003). Integrating new media and old media. International Journal on Media

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