2nd Quarterly, 2006 No.140

Researchers of Buraku Problem and Human Rights Issues Shared Results of Researches

The Buraku Liberation and Human Rights Research Institute conducted a number of research projects during the 2005 fiscal year. We held a researchers' conference on Buraku liberation and human rights issues on July 9, to share the achievements of these projects with BLHRRI members. Four researchers gave presentations on the achievements of the respective projects. The following articles are brief summaries of those presentations.

The first report

Summary of the Interim Report with Constitutional Amendment Proposals - Project on the Issue of the Constitution

Report by Masayoshi Kaneko, faculty at Hosei University
Comments by Masumi Takano, Professor Emeritus at Kagawa University


Over the last few years, dispute has intensified over the issue of amending the Constitution. The Project discussed the issue from the viewpoint of the Buraku liberation movement; specifically, which aspects of the Constitution should be preserved and which should be changed. Evaluating the current Constitution, we identified that Article 14 has provided the Buraku liberation movement with a road to independent liberation. This is one positive aspect of the existing document. However, various problems still remain. While constitutions, in general, serve to place controls on those who hold power, they often fail to provide measures against human rights violations and discrimination committed by those who are not in power. It is hoped that the Japanese Constitution can work more effectively in terms of human rights relief. Specifically, the Project discussed the incompatibility of the emperor system with the constitutional principle that sovereignty resides in the people, the conflict between the pledge against war under Article 9 and the Defense Force, and the great contributions made to the post-war Buraku liberation movement by several provisions prescribing respect for fundamental rights (especially, Article 14 prescribing equality, Article 24 prescribing essential gender equality, and Article 25 prescribing the right to life).


Our basic stance is that the resolution of discrimination and provision of equality should be considered foremost when interpreting the Constitution. Items such as nationality, disability and age should be added to the existing items against which discrimination is prohibited in order to promote of elimination of discrimination. It is anticipated that the debate over constitutional amendment in the political arena will get into full swing next summer. It is important for us to discuss this issue in more depth, taking these and other such issues into consideration.

The second report

The Revolution at the time of the Meiji Restoration and the Buraku Problem - Project on Buraku and the Revolution at the time of the Meiji Restoration

Report: by Toyoji Kitazaki, Professor Emeritus at Osaka Economics University
Comments by Midori Kurokawa, Professor at Shizuoka University


This research project focuses on the transition period at the time of the Meiji Restoration, which we have found to be of significance to the Buraku liberation issue. The Emancipation Decree, issued in 1871, was one of the instruments of significance as it was used by the Levelers Association during the period of denunciations against discriminatory incidents. It is important to clarify how Buraku were changed by the revolution during the Meiji Restoration. The Meiji government issued many instruments from the Charter Oath of Five Articles to the Emancipation Decree. While these instruments had many inherited limits, they should be seen as progressive policies in the sense that they contributed to the elimination of discrimination based on the social status and to the official abolition of the lower classes. The family register system underwent several revisions after the issue of the Emancipation Decree. However, many questions remain to be answered, including the question of how the land-tax reform, the school system and compulsory service impacted on Buraku communities during this period. The project was successful in that it uncovered differences between and unique characteristics of local regions and assisted in the re-evaluation of the Emancipation Decree. However, more research needs to be conducted into the livelihoods, education and culture of Buraku communities during this period.


Historical research into this period of division is of great significance. The involvement of historians of the last medieval period and modern period has been vital to the project. One of the factors that sustained Buraku discrimination was that the middle class became the lower class after the Matsukata Deflation circa 1882, and Buraku were subsequently identified as the symbol of poverty. The situation faced by Buraku prior to the Matsukata Deflation had not been clarified by prior research so it is a significant step that the Project has uncovered this information.

The third report

Corporate Protection of Employees' Personal Information, Initiatives and Future Agendas - Project on the Protection of Personal Information of Workers

Report by Kiyoshi Takechi, Toyama University
Comments by Yoshiharu Utsumi, Council of Osaka-Based Corporations for Human Rights


In April 2005, the Law for the Protection of Personal Information was fully implemented. However, it is of limited scope in that it mainly focuses on the protection of information of business customers. The question arises as to how the business sector has worked for the protection of the personal information of their employees? Because of the not-specific provisions and the many responsibilities required by the law, its implementation has inevitably been accompanied by a number of difficulties. The project conducted a survey to examine how corporations have taken initiative to protect the personal information of their employees in accordance with the law and guidelines. It also interviewed corporations to ask about the difficulties they faced in doing so. The project has identified challenges faced by corporations and public offices based on the results of the survey and interviews.

The study found that the development of protection policies and handling rules, and the appointment of controllers are conducted fairly. However, many corporations have failed to take action with regard to the acquisition of sensitive information that may result in discrimination. Also, while many corporations have acquired such sensitive personal information directly from the persons in question, some have done so from other sources.

The mechanism for the protection of personal information is in its infancy. Thorough and repeated training initiatives are required for its full implementation. In order to protect the information of business customers, it is essential to fully protect the personal information of employees. The government must also clarify the provisions of the law.


Listening to the presentation, I discovered the project research was conducted to a much greater depth than we expected. However, it would be interesting to learn about initiatives taken by small businesses, which were out of the scope of this research. Sufficient study has yet to be made for small businesses that hold fewer than 5,000 files of personal data.

Among corporations that have made progress in the implementation of the law, job interviews are still being conducted inadequately. The challenge to these corporations is to incorporate the objectives of the law into their practices. The business sector is also challenged to view the protection of personal information from the perspective of human rights. Most corporations probably act simply to come into compliance with the law, not to protect and promote human rights.

The fourth report

Disparity in Society and Crisis among the Youth - from the Studies of "Freeters" in Osaka and Career Consciousness among High School Students - Research Project on Career Consciousness among High School Students

Report by Yoshimasa Nishida, Associate Professor at Osaka Prefecture University
Comments by Masataka Katsura, Professor at Takarazuka Art and Design University


With market competition sweeping the nation, the labor force is being made to pay the cost under the justification that the life-employment scheme is no longer working. In such situations, young people, especially those with disadvantageous backgrounds, are the most negatively affected. According to an investigation to assess the conditions of Buraku areas in 2000, the unemployment rate among youth in general was relatively high, but was three times higher for youth in Dowa areas. Interviews made with "freeters" (people aged 15-34 who do not start a career after high school or university, but usually live with their parents and work in low skilled and low paid jobs) have uncovered that they faced difficult and complex situations. They had already deviated during the early stages of school education and were excluded from the labor market as a result. Exclusion from the school system leads to exclusion from society. Children born out of such families are again excluded from education. Each situation is inter-related with the other as both cause and effect.

The study was conducted by the Project in order to quantitatively verify the extent of this problem, and to find out how youth become freeters. It was conducted through surveys of third grade high school students that asked how they thought about their careers. The study found that young people who were from unstable families and who left school due to bad relationships with teachers and poor academic performance entered into commercial schools and later become freeters. Female students in such situations often embrace the traditional gender role.

Freeters who completed their schooling at junior high level or who dropped out from junior high were not included in the scope of the study. More research should be conducted on how these children can be supported and how we can prevent them from becoming freeters.


This study was realized thanks to the commitment to Dowa education and other initiatives undertaken in Osaka. In Tokyo, no research has been conducted into the actual situations faced by people who are the targets of discrimination. The study has been very successful in that it incorporated the life histories of affected children into the study. In Dowa education and liberation education courses we have had extensive and deep discussions about the problem of lifestyle. Fostering the academic abilities and guaranteeing a future for concerned children have been a challenge for educators. It will be a major challenge for those involved in school education as to how to respond to the results of this research.

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