Discrimination list leaked (and a story from my personal experiences)

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    Anti-Buraku graffiti, circa 1998 (source)

    A wonderfully cryptic article from Mainichi:

    List of areas where discrimination exists posted online

    The locations of communities where people face discrimination in Japan has been uploaded on a popular Internet chat site, it has been learned.

    Officials at the Justice Ministry’s Human Rights Bureau said that it was regrettable for the list to be carried online because they believe it will only encourage more discrimination.

    “As far as we know, this is the first time that the list has been posted online,” one ministry official said. “We don’t know if the list is correct or not. We regret it because such an act can incite discrimination.”

    A local government official in Mie Prefecture noticed the list on the “2-Channel” chat site on Oct. 21, according to officials of the ministry and the Osaka Municipal Government. The list is called “Buraku Chimei Sokan” in Japanese.

    The official reported the discovery to a national organization formed by 35 local governments to tackle discrimination. Officials at the ministry noticed on Oct. 25 that the list had already been deleted from the site. They had intended to ask 2-Channel to remove it.

    Previously, some 10 lists of communities where residents face discrimination had been found nationwide.

    The Osaka prefecture chapter of the Buraku Liberation League, an organization that pledges to fight discrimination against minorities, announced on Sept. 30 that it has collected 36 floppy discs containing lists of those who face discrimination.

    “The lists also (mistakenly) contain new locations of areas where discrimination doesn’t exit. I don’t know whether these two lists are the same as those formerly found,” an official of the league said. “I am afraid a new type of human rights discrimination will emerge as anyone can now read such lists (on the Internet).”

    Summary of what the article actually says: A list of areas where Burakumin, the descedants of the feudal era outcast caste, was posted on 2channel. The list had been created by organizations fighting against discrimination, but it had been inadvertantly leaked to Buraku-haters. It’s often very hard to tell who has Buraku lineage, since they look exactly like normal Japanese and often have the same family names. Moreover, in this modern era of people moving around and cities being built-up, it’s hard to indentify old areas known for Buraku settlement. The anti-discrimination list has become a guidebook for Buraku-haters who need to figure out who is “one of them.” As the article says, this can lead to discrimination against non-Burakumin who just happened to be from a certain area. If your Buraku-hating future employer or soon-to-be-wife’s father has the list and finds out your parents live in one of the listed areas, you can kiss that job/marriage goodbye.

    As a university student in America, I was required to do some readings on the Burakumin and other minority groups in Japan. When I went to Japan, I spent almost 2 years in the country before I ever heard a Japanese person mention Burakumin. When I asked my young Japanese friends about the issue, they would say that nobody cares about that anymore, or that they had heard of “burakumin” before but had no idea what it meant. I guess I just hadn’t spent enough time in the country side.

    Last year I spent 6 months as an assistant English teacher at an elementary school in Gunma prefecture. My school had a lot of problems; it was in a low-income area of town next to an industrial complex, almost 10% of the students were Brazilians/Peruvians who could not speak Japanese, and there wasn’t a day that went by without some incident or another (petty theft, windows broken, students fighting / running away from the school / not coming to school). The problems seemed pretty tame compared to what I was used to from my education in America, but for Japan it was a trouble school (the junior highs / elementary schools I currently teach at are are like another planet).

    The elementary school was part of a newly created program to teach English at the elementary level. Under the old system, foreign ALT’s visited elementary schools once or twice a month and each class had between 4 and 8 English lessons a year. The new system placed myself and a Japanese English teacher within the school 7 days a week, allowing each class to have a single English lesson each week. I could write a lot about how worthless this new system was, but instead I’ll write about my Japanese English teacher, who was the first Japanese person to mention Burakumin to me.

    When the school board was selecting new English teachers for the program, they made the mistake of hiring H****i-sensei. H****i-sensei was 24 years old and had just finished working as a student teacher when she was hired as a full-time English teacher. She had studied to become an English teacher at university, and had even spent an entire month in England, which spent shopping with her Japanese friends. Nobody had taught her that the English language was not pronounced exactly the same as katakana, or she just didn’t care: her English was terrible. I’m not really sure why she became an English teacher, because she told me many times that she hated English and hated teaching it. She also disliked foreigners, especially the Brazilians, who she thought smelled terrible. She made a point of never sitting in the same train car with them, because their stench was supposedly so bad that she could not bear it (I rode in many trains with Brazilians and never noticed any smell). She also thought that all the foreign students at our school were “bad children.” But it wasn’t just the foreign kids that were bad; there was also a problem with the Japanese kids at our school.

    One day, while driving to a meeting, she told me why she thought the children at our school were “low level.” Apparently, the area that fed into the school had once been a Buraku community, and they were “bad” people who caused problems. She was really unhappy about the decision a few years back for her town to merge with the town where the Buraku community had been, which resulted in a new adminstrative area that included Burakumin within her town. I asked other people about it, but nobody knew anything about a Buraku community having once existed in the town. Perhaps H****i-sensei’s story was based on true events, or perhaps it was just some bullshit her senile Buraku-hating grandparents told her. I doubt I’ll ever know for certain whether Buraku had once lived there, but I’m 100% sure that H****i-sensei was stupid racist cunt.

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