2nd Quarterly, 2007 No.144

Real Estate Agent Contacts City Hall for Information on Dowa District Locations

A man working at "Y" Construction Company in Osaka City contacted the Izumisano City Hall by telephone to ask if there was a Dowa district in the city's X school district. He stated that he was inquiring because he was considering purchasing a property in the district.

In January 2005, the same man contacted the city hall, saying, "I am going to buy a property in Izumisano city as the land there is less expensive. Please let me know if a Dowa district is located in X district. Half of my current property is located in a Dowa district. I want to move to your city, so how can I locate Dowa districts there?"

The city official who received the phone call investigated further and discovered through subsequent telephone conversations that the man lived in Higashi-Osaka City. The official made an appointment to meet him at the Higashi-Osaka City Hall in May 2005. The man came to the city hall expecting to receive information relating to his inquiry. He was accompanied by another man from a construction company in the city. He was immediately questioned about the circumstances under which he made the discriminatory inquiries, but left before the questioning was over. He has since refused all requests from the city official to meet for further questioning, stating he was too busy.

BLL Osaka held a number of meetings with the presidents of both companies involved. In the meetings, BLL Osaka inquired how the incident developed and asked about their understanding of the Buraku problem.

The man stated he had learned little about the Buraku problem, and was only taught about fundamental human rights at school. After he began working in the real estate industry, he gradually became aware of Buraku communities in Higashi-Osaka City and Osaka City. His perception of Dowa districts was that "houses in Dowa districts have good facilities and low rent," and "the people who live there pay less tax." If asked by a client whether a property was in Dowa district, he would provide as much information as he had.

Through the meetings, it was discovered that although the second man had identified himself as an employee of "Y" Construction Company, in reality, he was a contracted agent paid by commission. During his inquiries at Izumisano City Hall he was looking for a property not for himself, but for his client. It was also discovered that information on Buraku districts locations was being exchanged on a daily basis among local real-estate agents.

Other facts that were discovered include: i) clients tend to ask for information about the locations of Buraku districts when looking for properties, ii) agents willingly provide information about Dowa district locations if they have relevant information, iii) information on Buraku district locations is exchanged between agents on a daily basis, iv) agents sometimes investigate if a location is inhabited by many non-Japanese, v) many people in the real estate industry are paid on a commission basis, and vi) "Y" Company, which is relatively small in the industry, occasionally sends its employees to human rights training programs organized by the industry, but does not perform any in-house training.

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