4th Quarterly, 2005 No.138

Special Exhibition of Documents from the Old Collection of

the Matsumoto Jiichiro Memorial Hall

From February 22 to 28, 2006, the BLHRRI held a special exhibition of documents relating to Jiichiro Matsumoto. Here, we would like to show some of the documents that were shown at the exhibition:

Poster for the 13th National Convention of Buraku Liberation League in Septemer 1954 in Tokyo. Right is Jiichiro Matsumoto as the president.
"Thirty Years towards Buraku Liberation," a book written by Matsumoto in 1948.
Meeting Josephine Baker in her backstage room at the Tokyo Imperial Theater.
On April 29, 1954, Matsumoto visited Josephine Baker, a famous artist and campaigner against racial discrimination, when she performed at the Tokyo Imperial Theater.
Calling for goodwill and friendship among peoples in Asia.
After WWII, groups and organizations emerged striving for peace and human rights and seeking goodwill and friendship among different nations. Matsumoto made great contributions to these organizations. Matsumoto's initiatives led to the formation of the Asian Peoples Friendship Association in 1953 and the Associations creation of the Asian Declaration (draft).
Participating in the Convention of the International League against Racial Discrimination and anti- Semitism in Paris Matsumoto participated in the Convention in Paris in March 1956, and again met with Josephine Baker. The local newspaper reported his participation.

Meeting with Prime Minister Zhou Enline

Matsumoto met with Prime Minister Zhou Enline when he visited China as the leader of delegation sent by Japan-China Friendship Association in 1957.

Postcard from Hitoshi Ashida.

Matsumoto was also associated with Mr. Hitoshi Ashida, who became Foreign Minister for the Katayama administration in 1947 and Prime Minister in 1948. On June 1, 1945, right before Japan's defeat in the war, Ashida wrote to Matsumoto asking him to pay a visit.


Jiichiro Matsumoto (1887?1966) was a prominent campaigner in the Buraku liberation movement. He was adored as a father of liberation by many people. He was also a member of parliament both before and after the war.

Jiichiro Matsumoto was born in a Buraku district in Fukuoka. His parents were engaged in farming and the wholesale of wooden materials. Since his family was relatively wealthy, he was able to enter higher education in Kyoto and Tokyo. During his school days, he often faced discrimination because of his Buraku origin. Due to this, he failed to complete his schooling. In 1903, he formed Giyuu-dan (brethren group), an independent organization of young men opposed to official youth organizations. After undergoing the conscription examination, he left for China to travel around the country as a free journalist, a street fortune teller, and sometimes selling medicine. In 1910, the Japanese Consulate in China deported him to Japan, where he began working in his brother's business as a builder and constructor. During this time he organized a group called Daiyo-sha to seek the liberation of Buraku. In 1922 when the National Levelers' Association was founded he also initiated the levelers campaign in Kyushu. In 1923, the All Kyushu Levelers Association was established and he was elected as the first president. In 1925 he was elected as the President of the National Levelers Association at its 4th general convention. In 1926 he was arrested on a fabricated charge and was jailed for three years from 1929 to 1931. In 1936 he was elected to the House of Representatives, followed by two consecutive terms of office.

In 1946, immediately after the Japan's defeat in the war, Matsumoto participated in the formation of the Buraku Liberation National Committee (predecessor of the BLL). He was elected as President of the Central Executive Committee, and remained president for 20 consecutive terms. Meanwhile, he also joined the foundation of the Japan Socialist Party in November 1945 and ran in the first national election for the House of Councilors under the new Constitution, winning a seat in 1947. He became the first vice speaker of the House of Councilors. In 1948, during the opening session of the Diet to which the Emperor was invited, he refused to ceremonially walk sideways, as was traditionally practiced at the opening to show loyalty to the Emperor. His refusal eventually led to the abolition of the tradition in the Diet. He also worked hard as a member of the Royal Family Economic Conference to reduce privileges that had been given to the royal family for the purpose of realizing popular sovereignty. In 1949 the Yoshida Administration removed him from public office. However, Matsumoto returned to the Diet in 1951 after a long campaign by the BLL and other democratic organizations calling for the reversal of his unfair removal. He was re-elected to the House of Councilors in 1953, 1959 and 1965. He made great contributions to the government's creation of the Cabinet Dowa Council, which was followed by the enactment of the Special Law for Dowa Measures and the implementation of Dowa projects by the government.

He was committed not only to the Buraku liberation movement, but also to the labor/ peasant movement and human rights movement. In 1953, he became the first president of the Japan-China Friendship Association. He traveled to different countries and attended many international conferences. He personally met Mr. Nehru, Prime Minister of India, and Dr. Ambedkar, the leader of Indian Dalit liberation movement, for the promotion of what he called "the world's levelers movement." He also made efforts to establish friendship with various other countries. Among many leaders, he enjoyed an especially close relationship with Zhou Enlai (Prime Minister of China). Matsumoto always stood fast in his beliefs of peace and non-aggression.

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