Dowa Measures Department Officer Sends Discriminatory Message

About 300 people, including members of the Buraku Liberation League and 20 concerned local government officials, attended the first fact-finding meeting on December 11 regarding a discriminatory email message sent by a Dowa Measures Department officer of Wakayama City.

The E-mail, which stated, "Exterminate Dowa district residents and Eta (1) and Hinin (2) who live outside the town's Dowa districts", was sent to the Internet homepage of Uchita Town in Wakayama Prefecture and was discovered by another employee of the Town in February last year. Upon questioning, the Internet provider identified the sender of the message as officer X in March 2002.

X admitted to sending the message through X's personal home computer and subsequently apologized during the meeting. X said that the act resulted from prejudice and stress in the workplace. "I felt that my colleagues in the Department of Dowa Measures ostracized me after I was transferred to the Department," X said. "My experience of being ill-treated by a teacher while I was in primary school also contributed to the act," X added.

Being asked why these incidents would result in inciting people to exterminate Buraku, X admitted to being prejudiced and holding Buraku in negative regard, saying, "I was threatened by a landowner upon buying land," "I was told by my uncle to stop breathing while passing through Dowa districts when I was a junior high school student," and, "my neighbors also taught me that Buraku are fearful places."

As to why X sent the E-mail to Uchita Town (home town) instead of Wakayama City (work place), X acknowledged that X attempted to get revenge against the teacher who ill-treated X. "The teacher, who is from a Dowa district, holds an important position in the Town and wrote an arrogant essay to the municipal newsletter, so I got angry," X explained.

Wakayama City reportedly conducted nine hearings with X since April 9, when the Wakayama Prefectural Government informed it of the incident. The fact-finding meeting was postponed, however, as X took a long period of leave due to emotional instability. (Source: Kaiho Shimbun No. 2108, February 24, 2003)

(1) Eta and (2) Hinin

The words Eta and Hinin literally mean "full of filth" and "non-human", respectively. During the Tokugawa regime (1603-1867), Eta and Hinin class were placed at the bottom of the rigid class system. The former was assigned duties such as disposing of dead cattle, leather production, being security guards and sweeping, while the latter made their living as security guards, executioners and performers. With the promulgation of the "Emancipation Edict" by the Meiji Restoration Government in the late 19th century, the Eta and Hinin class were abolished. However, despite strong protests by the Buraku Liberation Movement, the term is still used to derogate Buraku people. Buraku people are generally recognized as being descendants of Eta and Hinin.