Deep-rooted discrimination: Burakumin problem.

Sae Tamagawa

There was an interesting article on New York Times in 2009. The headline was “Japan’s Outcasts Still Wait for Acceptance”. This article was about a deep-rooted problem: Burakumin in Japan. It was written after Mr. Obama became the first African-American president in the U.S., and the article argued if it is possible for burakumin to be a leader of Japan like in the U.S. accepts the African-American. In Japan, the issue of burakumin is regarded as taboo to talk about, so it is rarely reported on the public news or newspaper. Thus I think what New York Times reported was so significant.

There is another surprising fact. Hiromu Nonaka, who was one of the politicians who never hid his buraku roots, tells his discriminatory experience in his book called “Sabetsu to Kenryoku”. After Mori cabinet collapsed, he came to be a surface to be a next new prime minister. However, Taro Aso said “How can those people be a prime minister?” in the meeting. Almost all the people who attended in the meeting denied the fact what Aso said to Mr. Nonaka, and tried to pretend as if it was not happened. However, Mr. Kamei, who is a politician in the Liberal Democratic Party, proved that Mr. Aso definitely said discriminatory comment. Although what Mr. Kamei did was tremendously brave, Japanese media tried to hide it, so it did not come to light.

Due to lack of education about burakumin, there are a lot of rumors about them, and most of them are based on bias or discrimination against them; for example, burakumin has strong blood relations. Because of discrimination, people who are not burakumin tend not to get married with burakumin from long time ago. Thus, some people believe they get married within very close burakumin community, so they think burakumin’s blood relation is so strong, despite this idea is completely totally wrong. Some scholars prove it that this idea is wrong, and also there are some evidences. According to Ishimoto(2006), burakumin get married not only with neighbors, but also with burakumin who live distant place; for example, burakumin in Osaka get married with one in Tottori.

I noticed through my experience that some people really believe such kind of rumor. The other day, I talked about Burakumin with my friends after I learned about it in the class. To my surprise, my friend believed what I said before. What is worse, she said “that is why, statistically, there are more disabled people in the burakumin community than the others in Japan”. I was shocked into silence. I assume such kind of discrimination or misunderstanding comes from lack of education. Government tries to hide the fact that there is discrimination against burakumin, and behave as if they do not exist. I think right education and accurate knowledge will help to reduce such kind of discrimination.


・Kawamoto,S. (2009,Jan,15). Ningen publication. Burakusabetsu no nazo wo toku.

・Inoue,K. (2009)”Japan’s Outcasts Still Wait for Acceptance” .New York Times retrieved from Last access date:2011/11/15

・Ehimeken Jinkenkeihatsu Center. (2006). Atarashii shiten kara Dowa mondai wo kangaeru, 13-15. Retrieved from last access date: 2011/11/15

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