Plunge Pontificates

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Monday, April 10, 2006

UN Reports on Severe Racism Problem in Japan

This was not unexpected, probably wasn't to anyone. Yet, despite the way this report plays to my prejudices, even I found it overly vitriolic. Anyone who knows a Korean who has lived in Japan in the past and now knows that major strides have been made. So, this report has me quite conflicted. I guess one of my biggest problems is the person who wrote the report spent 9 days, yes 9 days in Japan and comes out with this rather scathing report.

How can you spend 9 days in a country and come away with the understanding needed to produce a report on racism and xenophobia? Who did he meet with? What agendas did they have? How balanced was the groups he was meeting with? Sorry, even though there are parts of the report I agree with, all things considered, I would rather distance myself from it.

Another UN failure.

In July 2005, the United Nations special rapporteur on discrimination and racism, Doudou Diene, went on a nine-day tour of Japan and talked to minority groups, anti-discrimination campaigners and government and police officials around the country. After releasing his preliminary findings to the press last year, Diene handed the completed 23-page report based on his research to the UN Commission on Human Rights in January. [Doudou Diene Report]

Japan has been condemned before for its failure to humanely accommodate the descendents of its former colonial subjects in Asia, and for its willful neglect of its own minorities in Hokkaido, Osaka and elsewhere, and for its restrictive policies toward immigrants and refugees. Still the blistering tone of the UN report caught many by surprise. The country was criticized in quite forceful terms for its "deep discrimination" which Diene said the government was not doing enough to combat.

The report was especially harsh in criticizing Japan's treatment of the over one-million people of Korean and Chinese descent in the country, many of whom still feel pushed to the margins of Japanese society even as they move into their third and fourth-generations. But he also called for measures to protect the rights of Japan's indigenous Ainu and Buraku minorities and small but growing number of foreigner immigrants.
The end of the article prints pieces from those supporting and those opposing the report. While it galls me to do so, I think I agree with the following reply more than any other:

William Wetherall: A seriously flawed report

There are serious flaws in the " Mission to Japan" report recently submitted to the United Nations by Doudou Diene. I have written a counter report in which I evaluate, paragraph by paragraph, the credibility of Diene's observations, analyses, and recommendations. The counter report also examines the phrasing Diene has adopted to essentially "minoritize" and "racialize" people in Japan in ways that do not reflect legal and demographic realities.

The counter report concludes that Diene came to Japan, not to objectively study minority issues, but to follow the bidding of the activist organizations that have been lobbying the United Nations human rights committees for the past couple of decades -- mostly participants in the BLL/IMADR-led "minority solidarity" movement in Japan.

Ironically, Diene has done a lot of damage to BLL/IMADR's cause -- which is not entirely without merit. It was a grave mistake to allow someone who apparently knows so little about Japan to write a report under the auspices of an objective UN mission.

Diene's "mission" was basically a ploy to embarrass the Japanese government in the eyes of the world, knowing that the content of his report will be disseminated in global mass media through press conferences and other venues. However, his report spreads all manner of misinformation, and invites all manner of misunderstanding, about Japanese and East Asian history, about Japanese law and society, and most importantly about racial, ethnic, national, and other minorities in Japan.
For a report like this to be meaningful, it needs to be given the time needed for such an in-depth subject. Agendas must be dispensed with and proper research needs to be conducted. Both sides of each issue needs to be thoroughly examined. Having read the report, I would have been embarrassed to be the one that wrote it.

Does racial discrimination exist in Japan? Duh. It is a serious issue causing problems for untold numbers of people. Let's deal with it properly and not with the histrionics and easily seen agenda as the one contained in the Doudou Diene Report.