Buraku Liberation News March 1999 No.107

Efforts should be made to pave the way to a comprehensive solution to the recent discriminatory background investigation.

Suehiro Kitaguchi
Secretary General of the BLL Osaka

In July 1998, the Osaka Prefectural Government entered and inspected the investigative agencies on suspicion of violating the 1985 Prefectural Ordinance to Regulate Personal Background Investigation Conductive to Buraku Discrimination.

Prior to the inspection, the BLL started to investigate from early June, when we got information concerning the investigation. At the end of June, some of the facts were disclosed when the two agencies voluntarily reported their discriminatory inquiries directly to the BLL Osaka.

An employee of one of the agencies took copies of the curriculum vitae of job applicants out of the company when he resigned. The client companies sent the investigative agencies curriculum vitae by mail or fax to verify its credibility and to learn some other information about their job applicants. The survey staff made a report by adding the results of the investigation to it, such as family background, ethnic background, and political affiliation.

The former employee demanded that the agencies give him a large amount of hush money in connivance with a third party. In fear of ceaseless demands, the agencies got in touch with the BLL instead of paying the money, seeking for a solution.

They submitted information, including a list of their clients. We gradually learned the facts as they attended the fact-finding sessions and denunciation sessions organized by us.

The two agencies, provisionally called P and Q, are parent company and subsidiary. P, seemingly acting as a business consultant firm, took on the discriminatory inquiries on Q.

Q made inquires by dispatching their survey staff to the place where job applicants for their clients lived in order to verify information, mainly about the job applicants' reputation, work performance in their previous workplace, and family background.

After taking several factors into consideration, they made ranks from A to D (A: excellent, B: ordinary, C: attention is needed, D: advisable not to hire). In some occasions, they put a mark * and a comment "It is no longer possible for us to inquire", suggesting that applicants live either in a Buraku community, a dangerous area whose environment is not good, or they belonged to a gangster group.

A female applicant, for example, received the * mark due to the fact that her father operated a leather goods shop located in a Buraku community, even though her family is not of Buraku origin.

According to Q, they seldom received a complaint from their clients even when they reported *mark indicating impossible to inquire.

In a denunciation process, it is important for us to find the facts and to identify the discriminatory nature of them. I am going to point out the characteristics of these discriminatory inquiries.

First of all, the discriminatory investigations were conducted not on the decision of the survey staff, but in accord with the policy of the two investigating agencies.

The second point is that the agencies precisely violated the Osaka Prefectural ordinance which prohibits conducting background investigations that lead to Buraku discrimination, while they themselves pretended to be business consultants.

The third point is that there are more than 1,400 companies, registered as clients of the agencies, that supported business-related discriminatory investigations. While we call this incident a "discriminatory background investigation", it should be regarded as a discriminatory incident in employment.

The fourth point is that in addition to excluding Buraku people from employment, many firms screen their applicants based on their religion, political affiliation, and ethnic background, in order to avoid recruiting 'dangerous elements'.

More recently, it is said that companies pay attention to applicants' mental state and personal debt in recruitment.

The fifth point is that there are unusual relations between the two agencies and their clients because of the absence of a written contract. The client companies might enter into business relations with a guilty conscience.

The sixth point is that the privacy of the job applicants was gravely violated. The clients handed over their curriculum vitae to the investigating agencies without any sense of protecting one's privacy.

In order to avoid the reoccurrence of such discriminatory investigations, we must reform several practices and systems in society as shown below.

  1. The two agencies should substantially reflect on their past conduct.
  2. Drastic measures should be taken to improve the business ethics of investigating firms and to eliminate the discriminatory nature in investigation.
  3. Comprehensive measures should be taken by concerned government agencies to avoid similar incidents, while reflecting on this incident.
  4. A law should be enacted to regulate nationwide discriminatory investigation.
  5. The business sector should take a drastic action in relation to employment;

and, social practices that bring about discriminatory investigations should be changed.

We continue to discuss what should we do, together with people from the business sector and the government, in order to find a comprehensive solution.