Buraku Discrimination and I

Buraku Liberation League (BLL)
Statement to the thematic discussion on the ground of descent of the UN Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination (CERD)

By Shigeyuki Kumisaka
President, BLL Central Executive Committee

Geneva, 8 August 2002

Thank you, Mr Chairperson,

I was born in Fukuoka prefecture in February 1943, during World War II. My village is known as one of the Buraku communities located in a purely agricultural district in the northeast of the Chikugo Plain, and there were around 30 Buraku households there.

The Buraku people did not have enough to do because of the rigid discriminatory policies, which divided and ruled the populations under the class system of feudal Japan in the early Edo period (early 17c to mid 19c), and the Buraku had been forced to endure extreme hardships for a long time. Such terrible living conditions continued through the war. In addition to an inferior living environment, Buraku people could not get full time jobs and lived precariously.

My first personal experience of discrimination occurred when I was in high school. I had a girlfriend at that time, and one day one of her friends asked her if her relationship with me was on the understanding that I was from Buraku. When I heard this, I was very surprised but also became angry. After high school graduation, I happened to encounter the girl who said these derogatory remarks, and I made her recognize that it was wrong to say such things.

Moreover, one of my relatives experienced marriage discrimination. Many of his marriage partner's relatives strongly opposed their marriage once they understood that he was a Buraku person, even though they have already decided the wedding date. After this, their wedding was cancelled. This incident of discrimination happened just last year.

What was worse, a house builder, whose head office is in Nagasaki prefecture, Kyushu area, inquired the municipal office where the Buraku community, my town, is. This discriminatory district investigation incident occurred in also last year.

In Osaka, private detective agencies had conducted investigation into the backgrounds 4 years ago and it became a big social problem. Expanding of discriminatory information giving a village-name or a personal name based on Buraku has still gone uncontrolled.

As stated above, Buraku discrimination has yet to be eliminated. It is 80 years since the Declaration of the Levelers Association, the source of our movement, was established. That is why I would like to make a fresh resolution to advance a new step in the name of Buraku liberation and essentially, human beings liberation.

Lastly, I would like to close my speech by expressing my hopes for the International Convention on the Elimination of all Forms of Racial Discrimination (ICERD) and the Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination (CERD).

These Buraku discriminations I mentioned above are also the common experiences of the 3 million Buraku brothers and sisters. The policy on the elimination of discrimination incorporated into ICERD is greatly useful for the elimination of the Buraku discrimination.

As for the examination of the initial and second periodic reports of Japan under ICERD last March, the Buraku Liberation League worked actively on various activities such as preparing NGO reports, attending the CERD and so on. I attended the examination of the Committee, too, and was very moved because not only had the Committee made clear that the Convention covers the Buraku discrimination issue, but also the Committee recommended the Japanese government to struggle against discrimination on the basis of the Convention. Furthermore, the Committee is going to arrange the general recommendation about descent-based discrimination on this thematic discussion. We are convinced that this will be a great contribution towards the elimination of the Buraku discrimination. In conclusion, I sincerely encourage the serious debate of this matter to all the Committee members.

Thank you.

Shigeyuki Kumisaka