by

One of the things Western visitors notice on their visit to Japan is the homogenous population. As an urban-living American, walking through the streets of the U.S. and seeing a wide, diverse range of ethnicities is an everyday occurrence that doesn’t cause more than a blink of an eye. Not so much in Japan. To the unknowing, one may think that Japan is populated with ethnic Japanese and a few expats mixed in. However, among the Japanese population exists a few minority groups. Some of the ones you may have heard are the Zainichi Koreans, Chinese, Brazilians and Filipinos. And the ones you may not have heard about are the Ainu, Ryukyuan, and Burakumin. Each of these minority groups have their own interesting history and current affairs, but for today we’ll focus on the Burakumin.

Popularly labeled as Japan’s “invisible race”, the Burakumin is Japan’s 1.5~2% or 2 to 3 million people strong. The term invisible race means just that, the general Japanese population itself is unaware of their existence (the stigma behind the name is so bad, individuals of Burakumin origin do what they can to hide their ancestry) or choose not to address it. Although ethnically Japanese, the label that beset the people has been a product of religious and social beliefs that stems back to the beginnings of the Tokugawa era (1603). Throughout most of the group’s existence, they have suffered severe discrimination and prejudice by the majority of society. Although, today it seems that this discrimination has somewhat subsided partly due to lack of education on the matter. The group’s name often conjures up associations with being delinquents, uneducated, crime-ridden, violent, and ghetto. You could say the Burakumin to the Japanese is the rough equivalent to the popular generalized social views of the African-American to the Americans.

If these people are ethnically Japanese, then what makes them different from the rest?

Origins of the Eta Class

Mentioned earlier in the article, the group was a product of religious and social beliefs at the start of the Tokugawa era in 1603. To put it more specifically, Shintoism and the concept of kegare with a side of Buddhism. Death and anything associated to it is considered is considered “unclean.” Individuals that are in contact with this state of life are considered defiled, polluted, and tainted. Previously labeled as the more derogatory term, Eta (filthy mass), these individuals worked in necessary and instrumental occupations, such as leather workers, executioners, undertakers, butchers, sewage removal, etc. I think you got the point. They were the bottom of the barrel in an ancient social caste system; simply put, they were outcasts. As per the Tokugawa’s feudalistic social structure, individual status and occupation were assigned and permanently unchangeable. For those who are familiar with Indian culture, they are sort of the equivalent to the untouchables.

Eventually, those that held tainted and death occupations, started forming their own small villages or hamlets, known in Japanese as buraku 部落 (ぶらく). The min 民 (たみ) stands for people or nation. Thus the etymology of the word, Burakumin, people of the hamlets.

Although there has been no physical distinction between a Burakumin and a non-Burakumin in today’s age, during the Tokugawa regime it was easier to distinguish the group. Aside from living in known hamlets, each individual was required to wear designated clothing, slippers, and hairstyles. In addition, they were banned from having rice field rights and had curfews they had to abide.

The Burakumin were officially proclaimed emancipated by the government following four years after the Meiji Restoration in 1868. Unfortunately, the group’s assimilation into the new Modern Japan hasn’t seen immediate success and still somewhat lingers to this day.

Though the discriminatory situation has been getting better, there are a few practices that still exists. For example, a few major and minor Japanese firms employ background checks (via koseki) on potentials and the hired suspected of Burakumin origin,  to determine if any ancestry exists, either to exclude the individual from being hired or use as leverage to under compensate or restrict their career path. Some families also employ background checks to ensure that anyone marrying into the family isn’t of origin.

Education-Wise, How Is The Issue Being Addressed Today?

To put it simply, the issue isn’t being openly addressed in Japan’s compulsory education system. There exists two popular approaches among Burakumin organizations, scholars, and politicians: be overt or be silent. Japan’s Ministry of Education and a few of the major Burakumin organizations embrace the “if the issues are never discussed, then it never happened” approach.  The idea behind this approach is that awareness of discrimination and prejudice may contribute physical and psychological separation of those with Burakumin origin and those who are not. In other words, ignorance is bliss. And any mention of the issues would be considered an act of prejudice against the group. This is often why the common reaction among many young Japanese are of astonishment when they hear discriminatory issues of the Burakumin still exists. It is also a stark contrast to the approach many U.S. minority civil groups take when publicly dealing with social issues.

A recent example of keeping the Burakumin issue silent occurred in 2009, when Google released a version of Google Earth with an ancient Japan overlay, which detailed locations of Burakumin hamlets and districts. A huge outcry from civil groups and the Ministry of Education followed, which eventually led to Google giving into their demands by removing the feature.

I can see the reasons instituting ignorance, but is it the best approach? As someone who was raised in a Western society, especially the U.S., it is somewhat odd that an answer to discrimination is ignorance. But perhaps this is due to cultural differences. There’s a lot more to this issue than what is covered in the scope of this article.

If this has sparked any interest, or if you are even considering making Japan your home someday, then I would like to suggest doing some research on the Burakumin and the other minority groups via journal article databases or a simple Google search. It’s a large can of worms, but it does give some insight on how the Japanese approach and deal with issues and problems.

P.S. For more posts about Japanese society and history, follow us on Twitter.
P.P.S. Perhaps Facebook is more your style?

  • Anonymous

    Very very interesting read! Thank you Viet! 

  • LongTimeReaderFirstTimeComment

    The approach makes sense to me, at least. Addressing the discrimination issue only perpetuates the concept. (Saying ‘don’t do X’ just reaffirms the validity of X as an idea.) The only way to destroy an idea is to remove it from the collective psyche of a people, to make it effectively ‘unthinkable.’ By refusing to teach it to the younger generations, the idea of such discrimination will eventually die out. 

  • Anonymous

    It’s amazing how many “groups” exist within a given country. In my home country, for example, we have tons of these groups, but there, they are accepted into society as the norm, for the most part. Many indigenous tribes roam the cities, towns, and urban areas of Mexico and most people seem to be very accepting of these groups/societies.

  • Tara Z

    The Burakumin get discussed in many cultural anthropology classes. They’re a perfect example of supposedly racial in-group discrimination: they’re no genetically different or phenotypically different from Japanese people, yet they’ve had a horrible history of mistreatment. It’s fairly comparable to the untouchable class in India, although there are obvious dissimilarities, and reducing the complex issue to such a comparison is unfair to all sides. (Often, American citizens aren’t aware that, until post-World War II, there were several classifications of “white” that were treated as ethnic minorities that shouldn’t breed with the “superior” Nordics and English. My class uses the Burakumin as a decent modern analog.)

    From what I’ve been told, the common Burakumin survival technique is to simply move so many times that their original address cannot be ascertained. The Google maps overlay was a big deal because it reveals, in great detail, the old neighborhoods of Burakumin and puts those living there currently and in the past at great risk of either mistaken identity or exposure.

    For anyone who follows Japanese politics, the ascension of Hiromu Nonaka in the late ’90s was quite a surprise, as no outed Burakumin had reached such a high level of political influence before (chief cabinet secretary).

    Honestly, I find the subtitle – “Japan’s Invisible Race” – a little…awkward? There’s only one human race, as defined by biology and the UN after WWII. There’s no genetic difference between Burakumin and “typical Japanese,” so calling Burakumin a different race just kinda compounds the current issue, you know? In anthropology and cultural studies, it’s more correct to use “ethnicity” or “minority group,” since race has such a huge connotation in the English language.

    It’d be interesting to hear more native opinions of the Burakumin – especially education about them. My host sister and brother had never heard of the Nanjing event – shocking, considering how insane it was – and yet they had heard of Burakumin. None of what they knew, however, was from school – it was through social interactions, parental influence, and thankfully, from Burakumin themselves. I feel as though the West likes schools to get involved because there’s some sense of clean standardization to the information being presented, but we all know that’s rather farcical.

    Thanks for writing this post, Viet! I’m so happy that Tofugu isn’t afraid to tackle difficult issues, and you did it well. I’m glad things like this receive so much exposure, especially since Japan is viewed as so homogenous to outsiders! Whole books have been dedicated to how multicultural Japan actually is. Hopefully this contributes to the conversation! <3

  • http://www.vietamins.com Viet

    The approach definitely makes sense, but it comes at a price. The question is if the price is worth it?

  • http://www.vietamins.com Viet

    Thank you for the informative comment! The burakumin topic is indeed a sensitive topic that can often turn heated. All I’m aiming for in this post is to raise awareness, encourage others to do their own research on the issues, and hopefully have a civil discussion about it.

    I do agree that in the literal sense, “invisible race” is a little awkward. However, it is a common term used in many of the higher education/research institutions and journals when describing the Burakumin.

  • Anonymous

    To be honest I feel that this is a very Asian way of doing things. Racism, discrimination is usually ignored than dealt with. There is a fine line between tolerance and harmony. 

    Secondly I don’t understand what is so bad about people who took up occupations like being an undertaker or sewage cleaner. Doesn’t anyone understand how important these occupations are? Can you imagine if there were no sewage cleaners or undertakers? 

  • http://www.vietamins.com Viet

    You are also right about the Indian untouchable comparison. I meant to add an adjective in  the sentence, but forgot to! My mistake!

  • http://www.vietamins.com Viet

    You are also right about the Indian untouchable comparison. I meant to add an adjective in  the sentence, but forgot to! My mistake!

  • Anonymous

    And by the way I am an Asian.

  • Anonymous

    And by the way I am an Asian.

  • Davidicus

    I completely agree with LongTimeReaderFirstTimeComment’s words. Is addition, reasoning for the way that Japan handles minority discrimination makes sense juxtaposed to Americas approach. Simply because(And I mean this honestly and not to be insensitive) Japan is kind of a purist land where it is known that 98.5% are Japanese and 1.5 is other(though this does not include native minorities such as Ryukyuan, Bruykumin, Ainu, or Illegal Aliens). However because their population is so Japanese internal scrutinization should not come as a surprise whereas America has been entirely made up of foreigners from the beginning. We had slaves, we hated selective foreigners and then we fought in many wars and grew to eventually be a superpower. At this point we felt the obligation to be the perfect example and ridicule those of us who were judgmental of minorities. We all know that it’s impossible to completely stamp out discrimination but today it sure seems like Americans are more open. Just as Americans and Japanese differ in evasive vs direct lingo, I believe they should too differ in the way they handle discrimination in similar fashions. America with through it in your face and force to to manage it… Well I think Japan should not revive something that poisons the hearts of the youth by reviving the rejection of a group because of a past they had no control over.

  • http://twitter.com/hj871 hj871

    “Secondly I don’t understand what is so bad about people who took up occupations like being an undertaker or sewage cleaner”

    Well, I guess even in modern times, there are still occupational hazards dealing with such jobs, so I’m gonna say it probably stemmed from health hazards that people might have experienced back then from germs, disease, etc. People coming in contact with sewage or dead bodies probably got sick more often, so people realized there was something potentially hazardous about those jobs….but society didn’t have modern science to explain why or put things into perspective…so over time they became superstitious and learned to stay away from the people associated with those occupations, out of fear.

  • Sophie Kallmeier

    In a way, it makes sense to me.
    I’m just used to a totally different approach. I’m German, and we deal with the whole WW II matter – and consequently also with the prejudice against Jews – by discussing it again and again and again at school. I’m used to being able to ask questions and talk about everything related to it and just handling it openly.
    You might say that it’s the opposite to the japanese way (though the context is slightly different, don’t want to compare WW II to a past unfair social system) and I really like our way. So I would deffinitely suggest it :)

  • http://www.callistospatches.com Callisto

    Thank you for posting this! While I’m aware that these sorts of things do exist in the world, I know I will never know about all of it. On one hand it seems a good idea to sweep the issue under the rug and pretend it never happened so that the idea of Burakumin being any different than anyone else dies out and we can all move on. But on the other hand, I feel that may be a very bad idea. Those who ignore history are doomed to repeat it. Besides, we should celebrate the people who do the necessary work that makes our way of life possible. Maybe make the TV show “Dirty Jobs” required curriculum for schools around the world, haha.

  • Xじゃない

    Except that people who discriminate against Burakumin probably aren’t too interested in ending discrimination against them, so I doubt they’ll stop enforcing it. And then it’ll just be people saying ‘do X’, and the only time people hear about it is when it’s being presented as a Good Thing.

  • http://twitter.com/hj871 hj871

    Interesting read.

     Well, in the USA, there is a school of thought among some, that the
    best way to overcome discrimination here is to encourage the idea that
    we are all Americans first, and that everyone ought to be treated the
    same, equally, and as individuals, without taking into account ethnic
    heritage or dwelling on the past, etc. In this view, focusing on people as
    part of a minority group only encourages discrimination and segregation
    more, because it encourages people to think of others as being
    different and separate. This is a controversial view, though.

    So I wonder, is this idea of stamping out discrimination through
    silence, really about encouraging ignorance, or more an attempt to
    create solidarity and social harmony by refusing to single people out,
    and calling attention to the fact that they were a marginalized group?  I guess in that sense, I think it can be a reasonable approach, as long as
    information isn’t actually being censored or outright scrubbed from the history books. There’s a lot of history that doesn’t get taught in American schools either. But the information out is there if you go looking for it.

  • Kellylav143

    It’s not that there’s anything wrong with those occupations, there’s something wrong with the idea of one group not having any opportunities other than those occupations because of being discriminated against…but of course you’re right, it’s really important and respectable to do those types of jobs.

  • Kellylav143

    I think there should be a balance where people are aware of history so that we can learn from it, without putting groups of people in a box because of that history….but of course that’s difficult realistically. Ideally speaking it would be good though! =)

  • Anonymous

    What

  • http://www.tofugu.com/ Hashi

    Similar to what you’re talking about with the US, French culture encourages people to think of themselves as French first, and whatever other identity second. The problem with that is defining what is “French.” More often than not, being French means abandoning any sort of other cultural associations you might have, which leads to ugly situations like the headscarf ban.

    Finding a cultural/national/ethnic identity seems like a pretty dicey issue no matter how you look at it, unfortunately.

  • http://twitter.com/mayliu Mayliu (ソフィー)

    What an insight! I’ve always lived in France, but I’ve never been able to explain the situation quite as clearly as you just did. Thank you Hashi! ♥
    On a related note, there’s a controversy going on these last few weeks here, because starting from next January, anyone who wishes to obtain French citizenship will have to sign a paper stipulating that they “can’t claim that they belong to any other nationality while on French territory”. This is a terrifying measure, because making it a governmental issue obviously goes a lot further than just “encouraging” people to think as themselves as French first…

    (…And that was a bit off-topic. Sorry about that. Very interesting article, by the way!)

  • Lyon Kuralapnik

    Very interesting post! Thanks Viet!

  • Lyon Kuralapnik

    I also wanted to add, that according to a law enforced in the 70s by the Japanese ministry of health and welfare, employers are prohibited from asking prospective employees to show their koseki.

  • http://www.fatblueman.tumblr.com fatblueman

    Really interesting article. I’ve been in Japan for ten years now, and i always find this an interesting subject, mostly because the young know so little about it, and the old want nothing to do with it. The weirdest experience I had with it was early on, during an eikaiwa class. I was reading a book that dealt with the subject, so I brought it up in my class of four business men. One of the men responded with sudden and passionate anger, tears brimming in his eyes, telling me that word should never be discussed in Japan or anywhere. Of course the mood of the class has really gone to hell, so I awkwardly moved on, with everyone, I am sure, thinking that I had likely just accidentally outed someone who was working hard to hide his past…

    At the end of the class he came to me personally and repeated, “Please just remember: Never ever mention that word again. It is a terrible, terrible word.”

  • Kmost0

    I first learned of this term in Haruki Murakami’s book. Once in high school, he was too naive to raise this term and hurt a classmate deeply. This pissed off several classmates with a strong sense of justice. I LOVE almost everything about Japan. But this burakumin prejudice, judging a person merely by his/her blood, is not only ugly and cruel, but also stupid to me. Hopefully this is really no longer an issue anymore.

  • Tuzi

    If you want to explore this subject further, pick up a copy of ‘The Broken Commandment’ by Shimazaki Toson, University of Tokyo Press.  It was first published in 1906, and has been in print ever since, which tells you its a powerful story.  Read it – its a story you won’t soon forget.

  • Anonymous

    This is an often raised and very difficult topic to get information about when in Japan. Don’t mind if I do a supplementary blog on this.

    The issue of “buraku” discrimination is more often raised in academic writing about Japan, and through most excellent blogs like this, than it is in Japanese society generally. The result is it can create very awkward situations with curious foreigners in homestays wanting to talk about it.

    I think this gives an excellent overview of the origins of the issue – the only thing really missing is mention of the Dowa Discrimination Law, which as it stands, is the only law in Japan aimed at prohibiting any kind of discrimination, and is at the root of the prohibition of things like keeping such lists and companies checking employee backgrounds today. 

    Anyway, good topic, and thanks for inspiring me to do a response. I’ll ping you when it is up :)

  • Anonymous

    I did a bit of a response blog on my experience of this subject, intended as a supplement to the excellent information provided in this blog.

    Please enjoy, and I hope it adds to the discussion;
    http://hikosaemon.blogspot.com/2011/11/when-talking-about-burakumin-never-say.html

  • http://www.vietamins.com Viet

    Thanks for the comment and a follow-up on the topic. It’s always a great read from those who have actual real-life experience on the issue, other than through academic sources.

  • Anonymous

    The word itself is very strong – it is banned from broadcasting, and really not appropriate in polite conversation. The word itself is considered discriminatory, much as the most racist terms for minorities are considered in the US. 
    The politically correct term if you want to enter the minefield of that subject is “Douwa People” or “Douwa Mondai” – and you should be very careful about broaching the subject.

  • http://www.fatblueman.tumblr.com fatblueman

    I wish I had this post and the one you just put up about ten years ago! Actually, your comparison of the word to the dreaded “n” back home gives me a much better sense of the gravity of the situation. 

  • nagz

    good article. soo….there is a good handful of people whose ancestors were no different, only by that they did jobs back then which are considered humane and totally acceptable, so they are looked down on today? this is… well… yea. differnet culture for sure because i don’t understand This at all :)

  • nagz

    *considered Today :)

  • http://twitter.com/shollum Shollum

    I just wish more people would look at human difference in a “They’re there, what’s the problem?” approach. It bothers me that discrimination is still such a big deal over the world. We’ve got some of everyone in SC and people still discriminate, even if it isn’t intentional.

    In my opinion discrimination should be approached with an “It happened. Accept it.” attitude. To me, it just doesn’t say much about your will to improve if you won’t accept your past mistakes.

    I think in America we’re doing better about race and social status but we still need to work on accepting mental differences.

  • http://twitter.com/shollum Shollum

    I think it should be taught as national history giving it a subtle hint of “That was in the past, how simple minded our ancestors were about that.”. Kind of like slavery and segregation in the U.S., even though it was only a short time ago, only the nut cases who would think like that anyway are truly racist.

  • Rolandfison

    it’s horrible but they were the ainu suffered worse IMO
    http://www.japansugoi.com/wordpress/ainu-are-japans-indigenous-people/

  • Bruce Smith

    I used to wonder sometimes in Japan whether or not I should tell people that my father was a butcher. But I really loved my father and am very proud of him so I always told people anyway. And nobody seemed to care that this gaijin was the son of a gaijin butcher. I wonder what it’s like for Japanese people who work in the meat industry nowadays. Do they get discriminated against ?

  • jeffaral

    Compaired to the white trash and niggers in America the Burakumin represent the cutting edge of civilisation!

  • Tanya

    Someone other than me could say this so so so much better. And this is actually pretty much pointed at Shollum’s and LongTimeReaderFirstTimeComment’s, but I feel like the two are also pretty connected so I’m not sure where to cut up the whole comment (which was longer and then I accidentally deleted so I have to reconstruct the whole thing and it’s probably not as organized ugh)

    Okay, so I started out this post differently but then I realized that Shollum didn’t mean that Burakumin history shouldn’t be talked about past ‘That was in the past, how simple minded our ancestors were about that’ and that it should actually be covered (although it seems unlikely because (and I could be wrong) last I checked Nanking isn’t even talked about)

    But anyways, (I’m not sure where to cut this comment, so I’m leaving it, although maybe this is more directed at LongTimeReaderFirstTimeComment at this point)) I feel like what was said about ignoring a concept and letting it disappear from the psyche is a lot like when people try to say everyone should just be color (or gender, etc) blind. It totally discounts the experience of people to say ‘Oh our ancestors were so stupid’ and leave it at that like it WAS in the past and can’t ever happen again because then you get what you see in the media today where people will try and act like it’s worse to be called racist or homophobic or misogynistic, etc than actually owning up to it when they behave that way. And instead of saying the perpetrator of a crime is any of those things, reporters tip toe around it with ‘This crime may have been racially motivated’ And while color blindness (and other privileged ideas) is nice in theory (except not really that nice because maybe people actually want to celebrate their heritage…I know the Burakumin apparently DON’T, I mean in general (which I know that color blindness is supposed to keep people from discriminating against other people based on the idea that everyone is ‘just human’, not prevent them from celebrating their diversity) it really doesn’t help anyone (except for keeping the person who’s not going to be discriminated against from feeling guilty, like ‘la la la x? what x? That’s a totally old idea’) because not everyone is going to be color blind (and really, even if people want to be color blind, there are still all these stereotypes being perpetuated and bad (or absolutely no representation) in the media and ideas become internalized, things get excused, etc) and then when something does happen and someone points it out people sigh and roll their eyes because ‘not everything is about x!’
    I know this is totally off topic and I’m not suggesting that anyone go into Japan and demand Burakumin rights, (especially since it’s against what the Burakumin themselves want and because it’s totally not a non-Burakumin’s business unless they decide they want to be considered equal and even then people shouldn’t steamroll their cause) it’s just that…well for one, slavery and segregation weren’t the idea of nut cases. It was society thinking it was totally normal for certain people (people they thought were lesser than them because of differences, and they had the Bible mentioning it like it was normal to back them up (which is a small example of slavery, especially since it still exists today and I’m not saying the Bible started it because slavery has been around longer than the Bible and actually the majority of the world’s history would probably think someone today was a nutcase for thinking of human rights, I’m just saying as an American example) to be treated a certain way. Which isn’t really…I don’t want to say that’s what it is, that feels off and like I’m leaving out a lot but I’m not sure how else to word it.
    Also on the idea that ignoring something makes it go away…I’m not sure that’s at all possible unless you plan to go live in the wilderness because for one thing, you’d have to totally disregard history up until the point you decided you didn’t want the concept to be thought of..and I think you’d have to totally rip up/burn books/movies/etc because the othering or discrimination of people is everywhere and even if you did somehow manage to completely purge your section of the world of all that, it’s mostly likely still going to exist in another portion and so people are going to find out about it and if they aren’t properly educated on what’s wrong about it, they’re probably going to end up following it.

    But..yeah. This came out better the first time. I just really really disagree with the idea that ignoring something will make things better because things just snowball and then when people try to do something it’s kind of like ‘well there’s so much, so what are you gonna do?’ and also that thing about nut cases being truly racist because racism isn’t just a thing you denounce and then you’re done with it, especially with how badly POCs are treated in media and how accepted it is, you have to work at recognizing when it’s happening.

    I’m sorry for going totally off topic of the Burakumin, it’s just the general idea I really wanted to respond to

  • http://www.facebook.com/jeremy.rawley Jeremy Rawley

    Why did such barbaric social stratification ever exist? America’s a superior nation because we NEVER had feudalism or a caste system!

  • Tina

    Do you mean East Asian countries? Discrimination surely is an issue in East Asia. You can read Hong Gildong, a classic Korean novel that been written by a n aristocrat that dreamed of a free-discrimination utopia, to understand this.

    Well, my country Indonesia is Asian country, but yeah, we are more diverse than any other Asian country (more than 300 ethnicities and languages). Discrimination (if exist) will definitely destroy our country with this kind of diversity, so we have no choice. If we want to stick together, we have to sacrifice our ethnocentric ideas and see people as equals. That’s the risk (and also joy) of being heterogeneous. Find the similarity among the differences, that’s the key. At least that can suppress the discrimination level.
    Yeah…but in the homogeneous Japan, I think we still need more time to see the Dowa people can be seen as full human.

  • Reat

    Hello, this is very interesting blog! So many informations about Japan, it’s amazing! I study culture anthropology, am currently working on my bachelor’s degree and my professor wants me to write about Burakumin. Actually, I never heard of them until now, but it seems to be very interesting topic, especially because in my country, there was a caste very similar to Burakumin. Does someone know about any literature dealing with this topic? Thank you very much, I am now going to explore this blog… :)

  • Majic

    What’s written on the classroom chalkboard.

  • Mari

    I came across this and other articles about the Burakumin . My mother is Japanese and my father is white, I was researching my mother’s ancestry and came upon the history of these people that are just as Japanese as my mother. I am sure if she was alive and knew I was reading and trying to learn more about the Burakumin, she would be upset as I am thinking that she was somewhat prejudice, by the way she treated some of my friends. I don’t blame her she was taught to be prejudice.
    I am not prejudice and I was shocked that Japan had these types of issues. I am currently re-searching the Japanese social reformer” Sue Sumii “for one of my college classes. I was planning a trip to Japan, but now I want to visit the Burroughs where the Burakumin live and maybe I can somehow help to advocate on their behalf, by educating people I meet and telling them they are Japanese and that I have met them myself and there is no difference. It is wrong to deny people work, health insurance, or to consider them disposable. I read that they worked most of the nuclear waste clean up after the Tsunami, with less than adequate protive gear and were not offered any long term health benefits for the exposure to the radiation. If people aren’t educated then nothing can be changed, they deserve to have what everyone else has.

  • Phil

    Do they get the benefits of the education of most, like ESL (I did some of that teaching in Korea, though I really wanted to be in Japan), which still seems important to East Asia? The younger ones may be more integrated than older ones into Japabese classrooms, but younger ones who are not could come to America or another country that knows English and allows anyone to move up, though those with a criminal past might need a trial period at the lower rungs of the business ladder. I’ve heard these Burakumin are the ones doing the dirty work at Fukushima. That’s sad, but Catholics were given lowly jobs in places like Boston and NY, as cops and firefighters. They’ve come to run high-level positions, but their work has gained popularity in the past decade or so, so the Burakumin may have their day, though the institutional silent treatment will make it harder and longer, there. I still love Japan, though.

  • Phil

    I saw a movie called, “Village of Dreams” in English. You can buy a copy from its official American distributor (I forget their name, but check IMDB.com). I believe there is a character of the Burakumin type in it. He doesn’t seem to be playing with the other boys and dresses kind of raggedly.

  • tmkbysh

    thanks for this article! very enlightening.

  • mgw

    One of the reasons why many people and institutions were against the localization of Burakumin districts by Google was to avoid more discrimination to the people who have burakumin ancestry if they happened to be identified.

  • mgw

    Moreover, characterizing the burakumin as a “race” is NOT accurate at all. You claim (more than once) in this article being western and raised in the us as if this meant being pro awareness and information, but please… Accurate information and the right use of words are essential in order to create awareness.