About the author: In 1973, Alastair McLauchlan completed a BA in French and a Diploma in Teaching and became a secondary school teacher. In 1980 he moved to Christchurch Polytechnic Institute of Technology and since 1992 has studied part-time for his BA (Hons) in Japanese, Master of Education (Distinction) and most recently his PhD. He has published many journal articles and spoken at four international conferences on the buraku issue.2003 0-7734-6568-5
The buraku issue is a continuing thorn in the side of the Japanese government’s human rights record, although it is seldom discussed by Japanese politicians, academics, the media, or society in general. A buraku is an enclave (carrying social overtones of ghetto) where some, but not all, residents claim ancestral association to the leather workers and butchers (then called eta, a very insulting term which means ‘much filth’ and which is only used today in graffiti and discriminatory insults) of the Tokugawa Era (600-1868). Prejudice and discrimination against buraku residents continues to this day.