Multiple Discrimination is Addressed at 'Beijing + 5' in New York. (2nd Part)


 Parallel to the UN-sponsored Women 2000 Conference held in New York in June 2000, the International Movement Against All Forms of Discrimination and Racism (IMADR) organized a workshop focusing on multiple discrimination against minority women, at the Beijin Plus 5 Global Feminist Symposia (5-8 June 2000, City University of New York Graduate Center).

In the workshop, women from minority communities from different countries shared their experiences regarding multiple discrimination in a hope to build a network of movements to connect racial and gender dimensions of discrimination.

In the previous issue (Buraku Liberation News No.115), we published a report made by the IMADR-Japan Committee. In this issue we carry a report on multiple discrimination from the perspective of Korean women residing in Japan and Buraku women in Nagano Prefecture.

An Issue Challenged by Korean Women in Japan

Kaiho Shimbun (Liberation News) of the Buraku Liberation League

 There is deep-rooted discrimination against Korean residents in Japanese society. First of all, we do not have suffrage in Japan.

We face many kinds of discrimination, such as in employment for government offices on the basis of the nationality. As North Korean schools are not recognized as a school defined by the Fundamental Law of Education, they are not entitled to receive subsidy from the Japanese government.

Foreigners with permanent residency, including Korean permanent residents, are required to obtain a reentry permit whenever we travel even to our homeland. The Immigration Control and Refugee Recognition Act and the Alien Registration Law strictly restrict our rights.

The ethnic educational programs that facilitate us to have identities as Koreans and learn our own language and history are not guaranteed.

There are so-called Japanese names for Korean residents which we have been forced to use since the time of Japanese occupation of Korean Peninsula. It was only after 1990's when the Ministry of Education expressed its position to respect that Korean children are encouraged to use our Korean names, instead of Japanese names in school.

As these examples illustrate, policies of assimilation and naturalization have been forced upon us. We were told to live as a Japanese, or to go back to our own country.

There are many negative factors in Japanese society preventing us from realizing our own identity, strength and dignity.

In order to combat such a discriminatory nature, Korean residents in Japan cannot help but having a strong sense for a Korean community. Our families have worked as a system of mutual-aid and we have had a strong tie among family members.

On the other hand, preservation of ethnic identity means that we have to take over its tradition and culture unconditionally.

In addition, we have to take over customs which are based on patriarchy system and Confucian. In order to succeed and maintain our own culture and ethnic identity, Korean women are forced to accept of male-dominant society and strong family tie based on patriarchy.

Korean residents have been oppressed in Japanese society. At the same time, from the viewpoint of the gender issue, Korean women have been subject to discrimination against within Korean communities.

To solve this problem, it is necessary to raise awareness of Korean women and to modernize Korean family. In addition, we find it important to reorient educational policy that used to alienate foreign people in addition to solving disadvantageous situation for foreigners in employment, and fundamentally changing the control and assimilation policies. Korean women should be given a respect as an individual in society.

Korean women were empowered through the trend of feminism worldwide in 1980's and 1990's and the campaign regarding the issue of the ex-Japanese Army's "comfort women".

Nowadays, Japan has taken the reins of government of state power, which reminds us of its participation in wars before. In May Prime Minister Yoshiro Mori made the comment that Japan is a divine nation centering on the Emperor.

We know what the really is. The same ideology exists that has never recognized Japan's state responsibility for the war and that has alienated 0.6 million Korean residents who are members of Japanese society.

Several local assemblies passed a resolution against the historical truth regarding "comfort women" that should be put on school textbooks and should be taught to children

At the same time, they adopted a resolution against the will of women who wish to keep their family names even after marriage.

The ideology to exclude foreign nationalities corresponds with the idea to damage women's dignity.

We would like to cooperate not only Korean women but also all the women in Japan, in order to eliminate the root cause of discrimination.

Buraku Communities and Zori, or Japanese Sandals

Junko Takeuchi
Secretary -General of the Women's Dept.,
Nagano Prefectural Federation of the Buraku Liberation League

For some time after World War Two, people were engaged in making zori (a pair of traditional Japanese sandals made of rice straws) in almost every Buraku communities in Nagano Prefecture.

While men worked as a day-laborer, women made zori. Those are the quickest cash income in Buraku communities. Making zori supported the basic needs of Buraku people who had a very hard time to get jobs those days even though they wanted to.

However, as sandals made of rubber became popular in the market, the demand for sandals made of rice straws decreased. As a result, both the production and production skill of zori gradually disappeared in Buraku communities. In this process, space and opportunities where people got together to communicate with each other also were lost.

When the Women's Department of the BLL Nagano conducted interviews in Buraku communities as a part of our activities, elder people recalled that they had felt afraid to see sunrise because they had to engage in making zori over and over again. They said that they didn't have enough time to think of their hardship of making zori. Some people said that they were very proud of themselves when completing good ones.

At present we are trying to make zori for the purpose of taking over their spirit as well as succeeding our culture.