2nd Quarterly, 2006 No.140

Discriminatory Messages on the Internet

High school students are posing discriminatory messages such as "They are Buraku," and "They are a group of 'eta' (an old derogatory term for Buraku)" on high school discussion boards with increasing frequency. These messages are often posted anonymously with the intention to discriminate against, exclude and defame other people.

Concerned about this matter, BLL-Fukuoka strongly urges the Fukuoka Prefecture Board of Education to take a firm legal measure and effective action to change high school students' attitudes.

This problem first emerged sometime between 2002 and 2003. Anybody can freely post and read messages on the open discussion corners for graduates and present students within these message boards. Message can also be posted anonymously is the user wishes to do so.

At first, these discussion boards were mainly used for exchanging information between high school students. However, they are recently being increasingly used to defame and abuse other students and teachers by name and to incite the exclusion of other people. Some examples of messages that clearly aim to discriminate against, exclude or defame certain persons (in addition to those mentioned above) are:

"Even if you are a high-achiever, that means nothing if you are from a Buraku." "BuXkumin, eXa and hiXXn are really disgusting!" One message included a picture made from text of four fingers pointing upwards (an insulting gesture alluding to the four legs of an animal that is used to indicate a person is from a Buraku community).

After the discovery of the problem, school authorities and the board of education used a number of different initiatives to combat it, while teachers associations, such as those that promote human rights education, began to work to find a solution. As a result of these efforts, students are gaining an awareness of the problem and are beginning to disapprove of the discussion boards. However, the existence of the problem suggests that schools face a number of challenges in raising human rights awareness among students and teaching students about the Buraku issue. BLL Fukuoka has also informed Fukuoka prefecture residents about the misuse of anonymity in posting such discriminatory messages.

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