Buraku Liberation News, May 1998 issue (No.102)

Essay by a youth (4)

When I Became Aware of Myself
---discrimination in marriage

By Manami Mori

We publish the English translation of an essay written by a woman from a non-Buraku area who married a man from a Buraku area. She wrote this essay in 1997 during a class of the Lecture Course for Buraku Liberation and Human Rights, sponsored by the Buraku Liberation Research Institute. The course has workshops for self-awareness in addition to a series of lectures. This is the first part of the essay.

My marriage

I recall that I tried to put questions to myself during the days of attending the Lecture Course for Buraku Liberation and Human Rights. In the evening after the second day of the Course, Ms. Yasuko Inoue, a lecturer, talked about the experience that she had through the difficulties of joining hands with her fiance in spite of opposition from her parents, brothers and sisters to the marriage just because he was of Buraku origin. I confessed a similar experience to my co-attendants.

In response, one of them contended that I was really a bad daughter because I married a man whom my family strongly opposed. He added that we should move to a distant place, such as Hokkaido or Okinawa Prefecture, where there is no Buraku community, rather than clamor against the discrimination, since we were already mature.

I was shocked to hear those words and all at once I lost my expectation and hope to attend this lecture course. I wondered why a man who had such ideas had enrolled in the course. Since that day, I hesitated to express my ideas because of fear and kept on regretting in anger and sorrow that I confessed my story. I repeatedly thought of that whenever I commuted to the class by train.

As I attended, however, the classes of several other lecturers, I realized that I should not make a fuss about his words even though I could never forgive him.

The days when we were almost forced to be separated

I first encountered the Buraku issue when I got acquainted with my husband. After he acknowledged to me that he was of Buraku origin, I told this to my family.

Then, they changed their attitude quite abruptly, saying that I should not go out with him any more, although they said before that he looked gentle and good. My family called him to our house to request him not to meet me. I was not even allowed to make a phone call to him.

They insisted that we had to break off our relationship. They continued to explain to me about their prejudice toward Buraku people, even without any accurate knowledge about the Buraku issue.

When they realized that I would not separate from him, they asked me if it was all right with me if the marriage ceremony of my elder brother, scheduled a month after, would be canceled. I therefore decided to visit my brother's fiancee in the hopes of persuading her to understand my side.

I explained my feelings to her, with the hope that she would understand and support me because she was a kindergarten teacher. Her response was, however, quite negative. She asked me if I intended to marry my boyfriend.

I answered that I was not very sure at the moment but I wanted to do it. After a short silence, she said, "It is all right with me as long as you just go with him without any plan of marriage. If you plan to marry him, I want to cancel my engagement to your elder brother."

My elder brother, who is a police officer and quite feudalistic in character, started to take aggressive actions to break off our relationship. He resorted to violence toward me when I did not obey him.

One night my family called my boyfriend to our house to attend a family meeting where my parents, my elder brother and the matchmakers between him and his fiancee were present. All of them requested that he leave me.

However, he firmly responded that nothing was wrong with us. In reaction, they insulted him by saying bad words and shouted at him, "You have ruined our family."

He patiently held back his anger with his clenched fists trembling on his knees.

It depended on his will whether we would separate or not. I continued to exchange shouts with my parents, my brother and the matchmakers until early the next morning.

My brother, who had been violently treated me because of my persistence, suddenly knelt down on the floor in tears, saying "Separate from him, please. Don't destroy our marriage, please."

The Unforgettably sad face of my boyfriend

When I heard his words, I was so fazed by what he said that my mind ceased to function. I had resented and hated my family who never tried to understand me. I really could not understand what made them harbor such ideas.

I came to think that I made them unhappy and that it would be all right if I gave up going with him. Finally I said, "I intend to separate from him."

My boyfriend looked all the more sad because he left our fate for me to decide. I will never forget his sad face.

When it comes to my father, when he was young he received opposition to marry his fiancee due to a disability in his eyes. Because of that, he understands the pain of being discriminated against. Nevertheless, he discriminated against Buraku people.

On the other hand, my mother, who she said went through hardships just because marrying a man with a disability, opposed our relationship so that I would not face similar difficulties. My brother's fiancee tried to convince herself to give up their marriage, thinking that she should not make her parents unhappy, although she was looking forward to the wedding.

Nobody in the family was able to explain rationally why they discriminated against Buraku people.

I was disowned by my family.

In the end, my elder brother and his fiancee held their wedding as previously arranged. I became ill and was diagnosed with automatic imbalance. I was asked to consult the doctor regularly (I have been suffering from a bad headache).

Observing my suffering, my father gave me permission to see my boyfriend. However, I later realized that it was a mere tactic to slowly separate us.

When we became exhausted, we resorted to the final action. One morning I went out of my house with only three pieces of clothes in my bag and two hundred thousand Japanese yen cash after I left a letter to my family.

We registered our marriage at the town office that day. In reaction, my father and brother denounced me, "You have disgraced our family registration," "You are no longer allowed to enter our house." I was disowned by them.

(to be continued)