Buraku Liberation News July 1999 No.109

Keynote Address on Discriminatory Background Investigationby BLL at Seminar

The following is the Keynote address on the discriminatory background investigation by the BLL at a seminar organized by the International Movement Against All Forms of Discrimination and Racism-Japan Committee held in June 1999.

Outline of the incident

One year has passed since the discriminatory background investigation was disclosed in Osaka (Please refer to BL News No. 108). The Buraku Liberation League has been trying to investigate the facts of a serious discriminatory incident that reminds us of a series of incidents of Buraku Lists that were first disclosed in November 1975.
The following are the findings of the incident so far.

  •  The discriminatory background investigation was conducted by P, a business consulting firm, and its investigating arm Q.
  •  More than 1,400 companies registered at P as member companies. Those include 900 companies in Osaka, 230 in Nara, 130 in Hyogo, and 70 in Kyoto. Among those companies, even some of the Osaka City and Prefectural Government -owned enterprises as well as member companies of the Osaka Dokiren were their clients.
  •  The clients sent personal vitae to Q to inquire whether or not their job applicants are of Buraku origin or Korean, or if they belong to a religious organization, a trade union or political party, without the knowledge of the applicants.
  •  Such practices blatantly violate the 1985 Osaka Prefectural Ordinance to Regulate Personal Background Investigation Conductive to Buraku Discrimination due to the fact that they conducted inquiries that lead to Buraku discrimination and they have not registered with Osaka Prefecture as an investigative agency.
  •  The Osaka Prefectural Government entered and inspected the two agencies, proving that the agencies conducted investigations that lead to Buraku discrimination. Osaka Prefecture reported the incident to the Osaka Prefectural Police, in addition to giving them administrative guidance not to conduct such an investigation again. In response, the Osaka District Public Prosecutor's Office charged the companies on 31 March 1999.
  •  In December 1998 the Osaka Regional Legal Affairs Bureau of the Ministry of Justice gave them a warning. On the other hand, the Labor Minister sent a letter on 1 April 1999 to 107 economic and industrial associations, requesting them to establish a fair screening system in employment.
  •  The BLL tried to shed light on the background of the incident by organizing denunciation sessions against the two agencies.

Gravity of the incident

We could see the gravity of the discriminatory background investigation in several aspects.

  • Although 23 years have passed since the Buraku Lists were disclosed and 13 years have passed since the Osaka Prefectural Ordinance to Regulate Personal Background Investigation Conductive to Buraku Discrimination was enacted, investigations that led to Buraku discrimination have been conducted by investigative agencies. It suggests that Buraku discrimination has been deeply rooted in society.
  •  The incident was disclosed in a year of the 50th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights as well as the 4th year of the UN Decade for Human Rights Education. The reality of the human rights situation in Japan contradicts efforts towards the elimination of discrimination and the promotion of human rights made in the international community.
  •  The discriminatory investigation includes not only inquiries that led to Buraku discrimination but also those on ethnic origin, thoughts and creed, even though Article 14 of the Constitution of Japan stipulates that all people are equal under the law and there shall be no discrimination in political, economic, or social relations because of race, creed, sex, social status or family origin. It suggests that Buraku discrimination appears together with other kinds of discrimination, such as ethnic discrimination.
  •  More than 1,400 companies registered at the two agencies as their clients, of which 70 to 80 percent requested the agencies to conduct background investigations of their job applicants. Considering the fact that there were about 200 companies that purchased a series of Buraku Lists from the 1970's to 1980's, this incident is much larger in scale.
  •  Among the companies that registered in the agencies, there were even corporations owned by the Osaka Prefectural and City governments, in addition to member companies of the Osaka Dokiren, a liaison federation of private corporations established in 1978 for the purpose of eliminating Buraku discrimination as well as to promoting human rights in corporate activities. The incident shows that a discriminatory nature is hard to eliminate in corporate activities. 

(to be continued)

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