2015: Japan's Diskriminierte Gruppen
Buraku Liberation Center (BLC), ein Werk der Vereinigten Kirche Christi in Japan (Kyodan)
Groups experiencing Discrimination in Japan who are featured in this book
(pronounced "boo-rah-koo" with the accent on the second syllable)
The Buraku is a group comprising two to three million people in Japan whose ancestors are said to have performed "unclean" work and were therefore considered outcasts. As a result, their descendants are discriminated against to this day. The ward buraku literally means a "hamlet" or a "village" and burakumin are those people who find their origin in buraku communities. Traditionally, they lived in designated villages or ghettos, and, the term buraku (village) came to mean both the community itself and also a person from that community. Terms like "hinin" (less than human) and a variety of expressions combining "eta" (full of filth) with other words have been used in a derogatory way in reference to people from the Buraku. Today, they are considered discriminatory and must not be used. In the past, even after death, the people were often given discriminatory posthumous names by Buddhist priests. In 18 71 , an Emancipation Edict was passed by the Meiji government which abolished the feudal caste system and gave former outcasts equal status with other commoners. The Edict may have been intended to bring an end to discrimination under the law but, since the Meiji government did not enact a single policy to actually eliminate it, severe discrimination continues to exist and the Edict did not in fact bring about true liberation.
(pronounced "I-new" with the accent on the first syllable)
The Ainu people are the aboriginal people of northern Japan and lived there for more than 10,000 years, long before Japanese people from the south began moving into the area. However, their traditional way of life was destroyed by the rapid influx of Japanese people after the 15th century. They suffered exploitation and oppression at the hands of the Japan's military government during the feudal period and this was followed by an intense and unyielding policy of assimilation under the new Meiji government beginning in 1868. The Japanese government recognized the Ainu people as an aboriginal people for the very first time in 2008 but the government has made no apology for past history and has not restored a single right to them.
The People of Okinawa
(pronounced "oh-key-gnaw-wah" with the accent on the third syllable)
The Ryukyu Kingdom which unified the group of islands now known as Okinawa was established in 1429 and was an independent kingdom until 1609 when it was invaded and taken control of by the Satsuma feudal domain of southern Kyushu. While becoming a vassal of Satsuma, it was also considered independent until 1872 when it became a feudal domain of Japan before finally being annexed and made into a prefecture in 1879. Okinawans resisted fiercely the policies of assimilation forced on them by the Japanese government at the time.
Okinawa is the only part of Japan to experience a land battle during World War II. It was one of the bloodiest battles of the war and Okinawans estimate that up to 100,000 civilians lost their lives. At the present time over 62% percent of American military bases in Japan are located in Okinawa and many of them are on the main island.
Zainichi Koreans in Japan
(pronounced "xy (as in xylophone)-knee-chi" with a slight accent on the first syllable)
The majority of Koreans in Japan known as zainichi are the permanent ethnic Korean residents of Japan who trace their roots back to when Korea was under Japanese rule from 1910 to 1945. They are often the descendants of those brought to Japan as indentured Laborers. Although they have been in Japan for a lengthy period of time there are Koreans living in Japan who try to present themselves as Japanese to prevent discrimination. Some younger zainichi now speak only Japanese, go to Japanese schools, work for Japanese firms and increasingly marry Japanese partners. Recently there have been incidents of hate speech directed towards zainichi people living in Japan with protesters shouting such things as "Get out of our country!." Or even "Kill Koreans ! ".
Comfort Women were women and girls forced into sexual slavery by the Japanese Army before and during the war. Although it is difficult to estimate with any accuracy the actual number of women involved, they are said to number between one and three hundred thousand and most of them are said to have come from countries either occupied or under the control of Japan. Although Japan offered an official apology in 2007 the matter of compensation and clear recognition of government involvement is an ongoing controversial issue.
Churches and other Religious Organizations Working to End Discrimination in Japan
The United Church of Christ in Japan (UCCJ) is the largest Protestant denomination in Japan and is a union of thirty-three diverse Protestant denominations forcibly merged by the Japanese wartime government on June 24, 1941. The UCCJ, is a member of the World Council of Churches and works ecumenically with partners both in Japan and around the world. The United Church of Christ in Japan recognized Buraku discrimination as an important mission in concern in 1975 and the Buraku Liberation Center was established in 1981 .
In 1996, the Hokkai District of the UCCJ established the Ainu Peoples Resource Centre in an attempt to work with the Ainu people for the restoration of their rights and an end to discrimination.
The Korean Christian Church in Japan (KCCJ) was established in 1909, one year after Korean students in the Tokyo area began worshipping together. Today the KCCJ is a self-governing denomination having special fraternal relations with the Methodist Church, the Holiness Church and Presbyterian churches in Korea, as well as with churches in both Japan and North America. with a primary focus on the situation of Koreans in Japan. Its commitment to human rights and social issues began in 1968, when the church celebrated its 60th anniversary under the theme "Forward, Following Jesus Christ into the World". The KCCJ is deeply involved in campaigning for the rights of foreigners residing in Japan as well as opposing incidents of hate speech
The Council of Religions in Solidarity with Buraku Liberation (Doshuren) is an interreligious organization established in 1981. While respecting the faith understanding of its various members, the Council seeks to stand as one in its opposition to discrimination of all kinds and in its affirmation of human rights and dignity for all.
The Buraku Liberation League The Buraku Liberation League (BLL) grew out of the National Leveler's Association (Suiheisha) which was established in 1922. It was the Levelers Association which issued the Suiheisha Declaration in March of that year. The Levelers Association was actually disbanded in 1942 but in 1955 it was reborn as the Buraku Liberation League. In 1988 the Liberation League and other related organizations founded the International Movement Against All Forms of Discrimination and Racism (IMADR), a non-governmental human rights organization to promote the rights of all persons subjected to racism or discrimination of any kind.