Man Arrested for Continued Mass-Sending of Discriminatory Postcards

The Asakusa Police Station of the Metropolitan Police arrested a 34-year-old man on October 19 and charged him with continued mass sending of discriminatory postcards. The case began on March 10, 2003 when an anonymous letter was sent to a Tokyo meatpacking market and local federations of the Buraku Liberation League stating, "As Eta (a term referring to Buraku people that literally means 'extreme filth') are not human, they are not entitled to human rights, so it is not a crime to kill them." This was followed by the similar postcards to individuals and groups. Approximately 400 of these cards were sent throughout the country to people and groups connected with the BLL, and also to former Hansen's disease patients.

As well as discriminatory postcards, there were many cases of harassment such as postcards being sent to neighbors of BLL members in Tokyo stating, "Your neighbor XX is from a Buraku area ...... Remember that you live very close to a dangerous guy," items being ordered in the names of targeted persons without their knowledge, and electricity companies being informed to stop electricity services for targeted people's residences due to fabricated reasons such as a shortly scheduled move. More seriously, death threats were sent to some people stating, "I will drown you," or "I've got a gun to kill you with."

In June this year, a city employee witnessed a man writing a discriminatory letter in the canteen of Ome City Hall in Tokyo. The employee immediately called the Ome Police Station, which sent police officers to the canteen to talk with him. The man denied the allegations. Ome Police Station passed information about the man to the Asakusa Police Station, to which one of the affected BLL members had already lodged a complaint. The man was subsequently placed under police surveillance.

The suspect has since admitted that he sent more than a hundred discriminatory postcards and letters. The police confiscated two unposted letters that were addressed to a BLL member in Tokyo, a half-written letter and books about the Buraku problem from his house.

This discriminatory crime caused tremendous damage to many people. Some victims suffered from insomnia due to anxiety, and others complained of subsequent health problems. A number of people were irreparably defamed. It took one and a half years for the suspect to be arrested. The Tokyo Federation of the BLL strongly demands clarification of the full circumstances of the crime at court, and the early establishment of remedial machinery to redress victims of such human rights violations.