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FOCUS June 2008 Volume 52

Minorities in Japan


Minorities are usually defined as groups of people whose ethnic, linguistic or religious identity differs from the "majority" members of society. There are several such groups of minorities in Japan who have a history of being discriminated against in various forms.

Measures have been implemented to address the discrimination suffered by these minorities. Korean residents who arrived in Japan before the second World War and their descendants who were born and raised in Japan are given special visa status. Education about different cultures has been introduced in schools and public activities. "Ethnic" schools are also allowed, though they are not yet fully supported by the government.

The "Dowa Measures" were implemented to improve the physical condition of the Buraku communities.

New groups of minorities are becoming increasingly visible, particularly those based on sexual orientation and religion, which brings a new set of issues.

Whether old or new, the discrimination minorities face can be persistent; for minorities, the problem lies with the attitude of the majority.

Some members of minority groups may decide to avoid discrimination by simply refusing to be identified as a minority; others see the need to take pride in belonging to their respective minority group, which deserve the respect and protection of society as a whole.

There is still much to do to fully address the plight of minorities in Japan.

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