1st Issue of 2008 No.146

Buraku Discrimination by Municipality

Hagi City, which is located in Yamaguchi Prefecture, formed a marriage agency service in May this year. It was recently discovered that applicants to the service were required to submit a copies of their family register and driver's license (those that have one), as well as complete a form that asks for information about their registered domicile, religion, medical history, family structure and occupations, disabilities, physical condition, and marital history etc. The Yamaguchi Association of the Buraku Liberation League contacted the Yamaguchi Prefectural Government to express their concern regarding these practices, which were subsequently amended. Applicants may now submit a copy of a non-marriage certificate in place of their family register, and are only required to present their driver's license for identity verification instead of having to submit a copy. On the application form, many sections that asked for personal information have been removed.

BLL Yamaguchi has met twice with city authorities to request clarification on the background of this issue. During one of the meetings, BLL Yamaguchi explained the problems associated with requesting copies of family registers. BLL Yamaguchi subsequently discovered that personal information was also requested on the application form. City authorities explained they wanted copies of family registers to verify whether or not applicants were single. As to the request for personal information, city authorities said they believed bio-data forms normally require such information. The request for religious affiliation was intended to exclude believers of certain religions from candidate lists for strict followers of other religions.

The service, along with the information required for registration, was announced on the city's public bulletin. Authorities had not considered that this might constitute or encourage human rights violations. City officials who read the announcement on the bulletin did not think it was a problem.

When questioned, city officials said they did not know in detail the related issue of illegal acquisitions of family registers by administrative scriveners in Mie and other prefectures. BLL members informed the officials that an administrative scrivener in Mie Prefecture successfully obtained ten different copies of family registers from Yamaguchi Prefecture alone, and that most went to people who had requested them to identify whether or not the person whose register was obtained was from a Buraku. City authorities do not yet appear to consider the issue to be a serious problem. BLL Yamaguchi will continue to meet with city authorities to clarify the problem.

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