3rd Quarterly, 2007 No.145

Memorial Lecture on the occasion of the 67th General Meeting of BLHRRI

Proposals for the Buraku Liberation Movement

Analysis of Scandals and Direction towards Restoration of the Liberation Movement

by Masaaki UEDA, Professor Emeritus, Kyoto University

Since 2006, the media has uncovered a series of scandals. During the time when I began to feel this could be the most serious crisis of the post-war liberation movement, the BLL Headquarters asked me to be a member of the Ad-hoc Advisory Committee for the Restoration of the Buraku Liberation Movement. The Committee's first meeting was held on March 5 2007, and I was appointed to Chair. By November 26, the Committee had convened seven times with heated discussions. A sub-committee was then formed to develop a draft set of proposals, which was submitted to Mr. Kumisaka, the president of the BLL Headquarters.

My first encounter with the Buraku problem was in 1949 while I was a history teacher at a high school located in Kyoto. A discriminatory incident occurred during the students' association officers' election, and the Buraku Liberation Committee in Kyoto organized a denunciation meeting. Through these events, I learned of the existence of Buraku discrimination even under the newly enforced Constitution, which prescribes equality and rejects discrimination. Since then, I have been engaged in research of the Buraku problem and the history of Buraku.

The subsequent liberation movement has generated the opinion that "discrimination exists in the real daily life and there will be no liberation of Buraku unless the civil rights of Buraku people are fully guaranteed." As a result of this idea the movement made significant achievements in campaigns such as the free school textbook campaign and the high school student scholarship campaign. However, major mistakes were also made to which the movement must admit. I personally raised the following six points:

1) The Buraku Liberation Movement should reject Buraku-centricity, and instead play a central role in deep-rooted human rights community building within the community.

2) International solidarity efforts have lacked an Asian perspective. The movement should place more importance in developing solidarity with oppressed people in neighboring Asian countries.

3) For 33 years, Dowa measures projects were implemented under a special law. As a result, suspicions arose that the movement has tended to focus on securing projects. The movement therefore needs to return to its roots of human liberation.

4) In 1993, the movement initiated an overhaul campaign to review all Dowa measures projects. The movement must admit that the campaign did not stagnate, but was in fact defeated.

5) In 1981, a serious scandal was revealed relating to the resale of properties involving the movement in northern Kyushu. Faced with the scandal, the movement realized it needed to reform. If the organization had been more thoroughly self-critical it could have prevented today's scandals. To develop self-criticism now, the BLL must modify its organizational policies and movement theories.

6) The so-called "theory of hurt caused by discrimination" has led to a loss of sympathy, and now functions as a means of alienating others.

I raised these six issues as my personal opinions, and asked other members to use them as the basis for developing proposals. A full text of proposals from the ad-hoc Committee is available everybody here, so please read it carefully.

The series of scandals in the movement was not incidental. Some branches have said that their branch activities are their own affairs, and have never held general meetings or audits. This is partly due to the absence of BLL policies stipulating such practices.

It is not only the BLL that is at fault. Local governments also share blame. Have any local governments developed their own visions and administrative efforts for resolving the Buraku problem? I wonder if they had promoted their Dowa programs under their own initiatives, there had been no collusive relationship generated with local leaders of the BLL. After all, both the administration and the movement have failed to evoke the sympathy of thinking citizens.

To conquer these challenges, it is important to establish the leadership of the BLL Headquarters, develop human resources, and modify policies. Above all, an attractive and appealing liberation movement must be developed. The movement should play a central part in campaigns against discrimination, solidarity activities with other human rights movements, and local initiatives for human rights community development. The movement should be a leader in the creation of a human rights culture. The organization must develop a movement that is disciplined, reliable and transparent. It is important for it to establish its own course of action under which it will develop its own struggle with the involvement of other people and organizations.

I would urge the organization to remember the platform of the Levelers Association, which states, "We shall awaken to the fundamentals of human nature and march toward highest human perfection."

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