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Changing Forms of Buraku Discrimination in Contemporary Japan
- Mariko Akuzawa (Professor, Osaka City University)
What does Buraku discrimination look like today? Originating in the feudal class hierarchy of 16th and 17th century Japan, Burakumin were outside of the class division and assigned to duties considered impure in Buddhist beliefs. It is descent-based discrimination against those with feudal outcaste ancestry as recognized by the UN Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination (CERD). Discrimination still exists one-and-a-half century since the edict of emancipation, but the forms and discourse of discrimination have changed over time.
This lecture will discuss some of the ways in which Buraku discrimination now manifests. First is the still-prevalent negative attitude toward the “land” of Buraku communities. This attitude is based on the fixed nature of social class, occupation, and place to live under the feudal system, which led to old family addresses becoming an indicator of someone’s former social class. Secondly, the internet has magnified the impacts of dissemination of sensitive information. The lists of Buraku communities have been repeatedly posted online, which were edited to add discriminatory information and spread by anonymous online users. A third form of discrimination is the way in which modern racism discourse takes the form of political dissent (such as criticizing affirmative action policies) and uses “rights languages” (such as the freedom of speech) to justify their position. Mariko Akuzawa of Osaka City University will discuss these issues based on her research and experience in human rights awareness in the region.
Professor, Osaka City University
Mariko Akuzawa is a professor of the Graduate School of Urban Management, and the Research Center for Human Rights, Osaka City University.
She holds B.A. in law (Sophia University), M.Ed. (Nara University of Education), and Ph.D. in human science (Osaka University). Based on her combined academic background in law, education, and sociology, she has specialized in the study of human rights education and training. She has made policy recommendations for promotion of human rights as a member of advisory panels in different local governments in Japan, including Sakai-city in 2015, Himeji-city in 2016, and Nara prefecture in 2018. She served as a Deputy in Asia-Pacific Human Rights Information Center (July 2015- June 2017), and is still an executive board member of the organization.