Today I would like to introduce a book titled “Sabetsu to Nihonjin” – Discrimination and Japanese people” in English – published by Kakugawa, written by Hiromu Nonaka and Shin Sugok.
Mr. Nonaka was born and grew up as a Buraku child, while Ms. Shin, as you can guess by her name, is Zainichi Korean. Despite of their different status in society, there is something they share – the experience of unfair treatment due to what they were born with.
This book is very easy to read. 80% of the book is written in conversational style based on their experience of discrimination, with 20% of explanation to make it easier for readers to understand the background and history.
Among all the stories they tell, there is one story that shocked me the most. It is a story about 1923 Great Kanto earthquake and discrimination associated with it.
In the panic of the quake, there were many Koreans who were killed not by the quake, but by Japanese people.
In that time period, there were so many cases of thefts – there was a huge shortage of food and goods; people were struggling to survive after their properties were all broke down or lost; some people had stolen things from broken houses. (Maybe some had no choice but to do so against their will?) Japanese made all of these cases Zainichi’s fault. Japanese said “it’s no one but Zainichi who do such things.” And in the end, those who believe the story DID kill innocent Zainichi Koreans.
This story is not well-known particularly among the younger generation of Japan. But I believe this is the story we should tell from generation to generation.
This year, we had 311 – the Great East Japan earthquake. I haven’t heard any sad stories like the one above. But there might have been victims of discrimination even if no one was killed – we don’t know yet.
Earthquake is a tragedy – it can kill many people. Why do we make it more tragic by killing innocent people who survived the quake? We have to look back at the reality and rethink about it.
This untold tragedy of Great Kanto earthquake is just one of the stories discussed in the book. I really recommend this book since it provides many opportunities to reconsider the issue of discrimination against social minorities. If any of you would like to read further, you can buy the book online or at most of bookstores.
Nonaka, Hiromu, and Shin Sugok. Sabetsu to Nihonjin. Tokyo: Kakugawa Group Publishing, 2009. Print.