"Der verwundete und zu Boden gefallene Mensch, ist das nicht Jesus selbst?" (Pfr. SEKI, Kyoto, 2002)
"Anerkennung verweigern nicht zuletzt viele Christinnen und Christen" (M. Sonntag)
"Ich bin doch ein Mensch" (Kalligraphie aus der Befreiungsbewegung der Buraku)
2006: ISHIKAWA Kazuo vom "Sayama-Fall"
ein Symbol der Diskrimierung noch 40 Jahre danach
Tim und Yuko Bayle sind Missionare und Mitarbeiter im Buraku Kyodan Liberation Center in Osaka. Sie berichten von einem 40 Jahre alten Prozess und seinen Folgen:
Rally for Justice
To Our Friends and Supporters:
Greetings from Japan to our Supporters around the world. On October 31, representatives from almost every district of the United Church of Christ in Japan met in Tokyo for a rally in support of Kazuo Ishikawa, who was wrongly convicted over 40 years ago of a crime he clearly had no part in. The “Sayama Case”, as it’s become known, has become a focal point for the struggle against “buraku” discrimination.
Briefly, this miscarriage of justice stems from a botched police investigation of the kidnapping and eventual murder of a teenage girl in 1963. The local police were under severe criticism for allowing the kidnapper, who had written a ransom note, to escape. They were under extreme pressure to solve the case. Their “solution” was to look for a suspect in a nearby “buraku” area (a poor neighbourhood of people descended from those who had been designated “unclean” by ancient religious traditions), and Kazuo Ishikawa proved to be a convenient scapegoat. He didn’t have a provable alibi, and since he was “one of those people” that society thought of little worth anyway, it was easy for them to justify extracting a “confession” out of him. You can read more of the story by going to <http://www.imadr.org/sayama/story.html>.
It boggles the mind to think of a young man’s future being taken away from him by clearly trumped-up charges. After being tricked into signing a confession after many days of gruelling interrogation, he was actually sentenced to death. This was in spite of the clear evidence that he could not possibly be the real culprit, and was based entirely on his “confession.” The sentence was later reduced to life imprisonment, and after spending 32 years behind bars, he was finally paroled. His unjust sentence, however, was not overturned, and in fact, the court has continued to refuse to even open up the case again so that he can clear his name.
The court is in effect following a choking at the facts of the case. It’s hard to imagine a more obvious case of frame-up. In fact, the frame-up was so poorly done that it is clear that it was done totally ad hoc and under pressure, with little if any real planning. This is not a case of simply “reasonable doubt” concerning his guilt, but clear and compelling evidence of his innocence! Even in this situation of “guilty until proven innocent,” that would be very easy to do if only given the chance. People all over the world are being urged to show their support in this effort to put pressure on Japanese authorities to come clean and admit this injustice. Previous efforts have been stonewalled, and the court has steadfastly refused to even look at the evidence.
We urge all of you to go to the website <http://www.imadr.org/sayama/> and sign the petition on line. Just click the “Sign the petition” button on the right under “More Information” and type in your name and email address and submit. At the rally, we spent more than an hour appealing to passers-by to add their signatures to the list, and gathered more than a hundred from our one spot. Next, we went to the main rally, where well over 1000 supporters from various religious and secular groups were gathered to listen to speeches in support of the cause. Kazuo Ishikawa himself came to express his appreciation for all of the support he continues to receive.
Ishikawa is only one victim of a wide variety of subtle and not-so-subtle forms of discrimination still present in Japan against people of buraku descent and other marginalized groups. His story, however, has become a central symbol in the struggle to liberate not only the people who suffer such discrimination, but also those who still engage in it.
The goal is not retribution or revenge against those who directly perpetrated this injustice. It is to set all of us free from the fear and misinformation that is at the root of the problem in the first place. And as Christians, our goal is to introduce people to the life-changing power of Jesus Christ, who is the ultimate answer to this age-old problem.
Grace and Peace,
Tim and Yuko (Juji) Boyle