March 19, 2006
Written by C.N.
I’ve written before (see here and here, for example) that in many strange ways, Japan seems set on politically and culturally isolating itself from its Asian neighbors and in fact, on antagonizing them at almost every opportunity. Thankfully, a new proposed comprehensive law prohibiting discrimination against ethnic minorities in Japan seeks to point Japan in the opposite direction:
Japan’s constitution already prohibits racial discrimination, but activists told reporters in Tokyo that a more comprehensive law is needed to protect human rights and punish offenders. . . . A U.N. mission on racism in Japan concluded in a report in January that minorities — including ethnic Koreans and Chinese, the Ainu indigenous group, and the so-called “untouchable” underclass — suffer discrimination in education, housing, health care and employment. . . .
Still, the activists said the bedrock xenophobia of Japanese society was getting worse, fueled in part by fear of foreign terrorists, the growing conservatism of the government and worries about foreigner-linked crime. “The Japanese government is getting more and more racist and more and more anti-foreign, but there is a realization that Japan cannot remain closed to foreigners,” said Mushakoji.
Proposing a law is one thing — getting it passed and enacted is another. We’ll have to wait and see if Japanese lawmakers are serious about joining the rest of us in the 21st century and institutionalizing anti-discrimination practices into their society. At the least, it’s an encouraging sign that some Japanese recognize that there is a problem, that the problem is getting worse, and that something needs to be done about it, sooner rather than later.
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Suggested reference: Le, C.N. . "Japan’s Proposed Anti-Discrimination Law" Asian-Nation: The Landscape of Asian America. <http://www.asian-nation.org/headlines/2006/03/japan-antidiscrimination-law/> ().
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