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FOCUS March 2017 Volume 87

Law Against Buraku Discrimination

HURIGHTS OSAKA

 

The Japanese Diet (parliament) enacted on 9 December 2016 the first law against discrimination of the Burakumin. Similar to the Act on the Promotion of Efforts to Eliminate Unfair Discriminatory Speech and Behavior against Persons Originating from Outside Japan, this law promotes “efforts at eliminating Buraku discrimination.” It does not penalize acts that discriminate against the Burakumin.  

The law, entitled Act on the Promotion of the Elimination of Buraku Discrimination,1 obligates the national and local governments to take measures against this form of discrimination.

Basic Principle
The law aims to make the Japanese society free from Buraku discrimination, an objective that upholds the constitutional principle that “all citizens shall be respected as unique individuals who enjoy fundamental human rights on equal basis.”

The law seeks the improvement of the “understanding of each and every citizen of the need to eliminate Buraku discrimination” in line with the Japanese Constitution. 

Obligation of the Government
The national and local governments are obliged to implement measures for the elimination of Buraku discrimination. The national government shall guide, and also collaborate with, the local governments in implementing such measures at the local level. 

Anti-discrimination Measures
The law identifies three measures that should be done by the national and local governments, namely:
a. Consolidation of advisory mechanisms;
b. Education and awareness-raising; and
c. Survey of the situation of Buraku discrimination.

Both national and local governments are obliged to consolidate advisory mechanisms that can respond to requests for advice and support concerning Buraku discrimination. The law does not describe the types of existing advisory mechanisms that should be consolidated, and the kind of advice and support that such mechanisms should provide.

They are both obliged to work together to undertake necessary and appropriate [to local conditions] awareness-raising and educational measures in order to eliminate Buraku discrimination.

They are also both obliged to monitor the situation on Buraku discrimination through surveys. The results of the surveys should help the implementation of other measures to eliminate Buraku discrimination.

Supplementary Resolutions
Two supplementary resolutions have been adopted to guide the implementation of the law. 

The first resolution provides for appropriate and careful implementation of the law and cautions the government to consider in the measures the various understanding of the Buraku discrimination among people of different generations and the actual conditions of the local communities.

The second resolution, adopted by the Committee on Judicial Affairs of the House of Councillors on 8 December 2016, also provides for consideration of the actual conditions of the local communities and 
a. The taking of steps against obstacles to the elimination of Buraku discrimination given the fact that excessive words and behavior of people in the past and other factors had undermined the elimination of discrimination;
b. The consideration of content and methodologies that would help prevent the occurrence of new forms of discrimination as a result of the awareness-raising and educational activities; and
c. The consideration of scope, methodologies and other relevant matters in holding the survey to prevent the occurrence of new forms of discrimination as a result of the survey.

The recognition of Buraku discrimination as violation of the Japanese Constitution, of the continued existence of this kind of discrimination, and of the change in the situation of discrimination due to increased use of information technologies make the law a significant support for concrete measures at the local community level. 

For further information, please contact HURIGHTS OSAKA.

Endnote
1 The English name and text of the law are from the unofficial translation of the law by the International Movement Against All Forms of Discrimination and Racism (IMADR).
See full text of the law in English in this url: http://imadr.net/wordpress/wp-content/uploads/2016/12/Act-on-the-Promotion-of-the-Elimination-of-Buraku-Discrimination-2.pdf.


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