Prejudice and Discrimination in Japan: The Buraku Issue

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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.


“The conditions under which Dr. McLauchlan carried out his interviews, though of only twenty-one people selected by his BLL facilitators, make his report all the more remarkable. Not only does he let us hear their voices as clearly and uncensored as possible, but he refuses to let his indebtedness to BLL stop him from biting a couple of its fingers….Dr McLauchlan may have gotten as close as anyone, outsider or insider, is likely to get to a small but diverse sample of Buraku X residents wiling to talk about their circumstances and feelings.” – Professor William Wetherall, Abiko, Japan

Table of Contents

Table of Contents (main headings):
Foreword; Preface
1. The Buraku Issue: Class or Caste?; Quandary for Modern Japan; Fieldwork and Data Collection; Literature Review; Word of Caution on Buraku Statistics
2. Daily Life in Japan’s Buraku: Mainstream Prejudice; Education; Employment; Social Welfare; Marriage
3. Buraku X: Physical Environment within Buraku X; Human Environment Outside ; Human Environment Inside
4. “Self” and “Other” in Buraku X: Construct of Buraku X Residents and Mainstream; Life in Buraku X; I Owe it All to the BLL
5. The Psychology of Discrimination: Incidents of Discrimination; Mainstream Dislike Us Because…; Lack of Confidence
6. Eradicating Anti-Buraku Prejudice: Suggestions; a Message for Mainstream Japanese
7. Conclusions: The Residents of Buraku X; The Government’s Role; The BLL’s Role; Final Comment
Bibliography; Index

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