Buraku Liberation News, May 1997 issue (N0.96)

5. Buraku issue Q &A

How Many Discriminated-against Buraku Areas?

Q: How many discriminated-against Buraku areas are there throughout Japan ?

A: The government made a nationwide survey on Buraku areas seven times during the period from 1921 to 1993. While 5,371 areas, the biggest number, were recognized as Buraku areas in 1935, 3,570 areas, the smallest number, were recognized in 1967. The latest survey in 1993 showed 4,442 areas. These numbers, however, do not necessarily reflect the transformation of the reality of Buraku areas. What do the number mean ? In short, these indicate the numbers of areas where the administration found it necessary to implement Dowa projects. In 1971, for instance, the government surveyed only areas that were considered to be prospective beneficiaries for Dowa projects as well as areas that had been the beneficiaries of on-going Dowa projects, with a criteria stipulated by article 1 of the Law on Special Measures for Dowa Projects that Dowa areas shall be areas where stable improvement of living environment has been hampered by historical and social background. As a result, those which were considered by the government as areas that have achieved the economic stability were excluded from the survey. Dowa projects were, in fact, the products of the persistent campaign of the Buraku liberation movement. Therefore, many of the actual Buraku areas where the liberation movement is not so strong or where some of the residents do not want their places to be classified as Dowa areas have been excluded from the objects of the survey by the government that unilaterally denied the necessity of Dowa projects. In addition, the government has had a policy not to newly recognize Buraku areas since the enactment of Law Regarding the Special Fiscal Measures of the Government for Regional Improvement Projects in 1987.
Generally speaking, more Buraku areas are located in the western part of Japan than in the eastern part. However, there are Buraku areas even in the Tohoku district, the north-eastern part of Japan, even though the number is small. It can be said that there are only two prefectures throughout Japan which historically have no Buraku areas ; Hokkaido and Okinawa, the northernmost and southernmost prefectures respectively. When it comes to population, there are 892,751 people in the 4,442 Dowa areas, according to the government survey of 1993. By prefecture, Hyogo has the biggest population of 117,000, followed by Fukuoka, 112,000, and, Osaka 87,000 people. The population of Buraku people surveyed by the government has been underestimated since many Buraku areas are not covered by the government survey as mentioned above and a lot of Buraku people live in communities outside Buraku areas. The BLL estimated as many as 6,000 Buraku communities with over 3 million population.