2021: Jap. Burakumin Reconsidered

Minderheiten in Japan: Ainu, Buraku, Ryukyu people, Koreans
Source: The Asia-Pacific Journal | Japan Focus Volume 19 | Issue 9 | Number 2 | May 01, 2021

Introduction to the Special Issue
Refuting Mark Ramseyer’s Interpretation of Japan’s Burakumin

Tomomi Yamaguchi (Special Issue Coordinator)

This special issue, “Japan’s Burakumin (Outcastes) Reconsidered: A Special Issue Refuting Ramseyer’s Interpretation”, edited by historian Ian Neary and sociologist Saito Naoko, brings together eight papers by a range of Japanese and Anglophone scholarship.

This is the second in a series of special issues addressing the work of J. Mark Ramseyer, the Mitsubishi Professor of Japanese Law at Harvard University. The first, which examined several controversial papers on Japan’s wartime “comfort women”, appeared in a recent supplement to a special issue edited by Alexis Dudden entitled "Academic Integrity at Stake: The Ramseyer Article – Four Letters” .

As the problem of Ramseyer’s “comfort women” analysis drew international attention, his problematic scholarship on issues related to minorities in Japan, notably Okinawans, Zainichi Koreans, and Burakumin, have also drawn fire from scholars, journalists and activists.

Since 2017, Ramseyer has published four articles about the Buraku question. This special issue features seven responses to the articles by historians, sociologists and anthropologists of Buraku issues, together with an introduction by Ian Neary. While a few statements criticizing Ramseyer’s scholarship on Buraku have already been published by journalist Kadooka Nobuhiko, IMADR (The International Movement Against All Forms of Discrimination and Racism) and the Headquarters of Buraku Liberation League (in Japanese), this special issue is the first attempt to bring together multiple statements criticizing Ramseyer’s works on Buraku by leading Japanese and Anglophone specialists. Some of the statements published in this volume have been sent to the journals that published Ramseyer’s articles. Beyond refuting Ramseyer, the special issue introduces recent scholarship on the Buraku issues in bilingual Japanese and English texts.

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