by Yuka Shiokawa
Until I read and watch the video, I did not know the existence of affirmative action in Brazil and the United States. After I learned a little about it, I start to relate this system to the ethnic minorities in Japanese society such as Okinawans or Zainichi Koreans. Then I thought whether Japan should adopt the affirmative action or not and my conclusion is no, because of the difficulties of categorization and some risks that might be caused.
Before the presentation, I did a brief research about the population in Brazil based on CIA’s data. According to that, there is a clear border between the blacks and whites drawn by Americans. However, in reality, it is not as simple. As it was described in the reading, since Brazil has very mixed colors for the historical reasons, it is hard to distinguish who is black and who is not. In addition, the ways they categorize themselves is totally different and vary for hundreds of types. So it is hard to decide who can be supported by the affirmative action and not.
I think more or less the same thing will happen in Japan too. If we adopt the affirmative action, some people might be categorized in the socially weak position. However, those people may not think they are. In fact, I have many friends who are Zainichi Koreans but I do not see any difference from myself. People around them would not even recognize them as Koreans or Okinawans if they do not claim it. Also, I do not think they would categorize themselves as socially weak people neither. As a result, I think it is going to be hard to draw the line for categorization since the self identification and identification by others varies as it does in Brazil’s color differences.
In addition, I think there are some risks too. Considering this type of situation around me, I am afraid that by taking affirmative action, it emphasizes the difference more than today and it simply ends up labeling them as inferiors. Also, there are some people who are ethically privileged in this society but struggling with some problems. It is possible that those people might get jealous of getting an affirmative action just because of their roots and this could be the cause to create racists. In conclusion, I think Japan should not take affirmative action because I do not think there is such clear distinction between the privileged and non-privileged in a sense of race inside of this country. It might help those who are socially weak systematically, but it can draw clearer borders and widen the distance mentally among people than today.