Accepted Paper:

Buraku futures in a multicultural Japan  


Joseph Hankins (UCSD)

Paper short abstract:

This paper examines how the recent end of the Special Measure Law, an end which renders Buraku issues less visible, competes with rising demands to present a Japan that is multicultural.

Paper long abstract:

In the past several years, the Japanese government has implemented tabunka kyosei (multicultural co-existence) programs at prefectural and municipal levels. These programs understand social difference in terms of nationality, primarily, and are directed to in some form easing the life of non-Japanese nationals - such as foreign workers - in Japan. This version of multiculturalism typically leaves untouched forms of social difference such as the Burakumin, resident Koreans, or indigenous Ainu. In 2002 the government ended a set of laws that directed funds to registered Buraku neighborhoods that had existed since 1969. With that legal shift, Buraku neighborhoods and organizations have been facing a reduced funding stream, making it progressively more difficult for them to fulfill their mission of eliminating Buraku discrimination. This paper examines these shifts together: what does it mean that Buraku difference is being erased at the moment that multicultural co-existence programs are taking off? What part might Buraku difference play in the making of a multicultural Japan?

Panel P117
Buraku futures: navigating the changing landscape of law and economy