• Kyodo

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— A member of a U.N. committee that on Thursday began examining reports submitted by various governments on the issue of discrimination, has expressed concern over derogatory remarks about foreigners made by Tokyo Gov. Shintaro Ishihara.

Luis Valencia Rodriguez, a member of the U.N. Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination, expressed concern that no action had been taken over the remarks made by Ishihara, who accused foreigners of committing heinous crimes.

On April 9, 2000, Ishihara told the Ground Self-Defense Force to be prepared for rioting by illegal foreigners in the event of a major disaster.

Ishihara has been under fire for using the term “sangokujin,” which literally means “people from third countries.” The term was used as a derogatory label for people from Japan’s former colonies, Korea and Taiwan, after World War II.

In a later statement, Ishihara expressed regret over his comments, saying his use of the word was “inappropriate.”

On Thursday, the committee started its examination of the initial and second periodic reports on the prevention of racial discrimination in accordance with the International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination.

Rodriguez also said Japan is holding back on the implementation of Article 4 of the convention, which stipulates a ban on remarks or the publishing of books that could fuel discrimination, and urged Japan to abide by the whole convention.

He also said the report submitted by the Japanese government lacks information on the descendants of people from “buraku” communities, which were populated by the country’s former social outcasts.

Rodriguez said the report did refer to the turning away of foreigners with regard to the renting of houses and access to public swimming pools, but he pointed out that similar incidents occur in restaurants as well.

Koichi Haraguchi, ambassador and permanent representative of Japan to the United Nations Office in Geneva, told the committee that Japan has been striving to create a society without any form of racial or ethnic discrimination through measures including amendments to legislation.

Japan acceded to the convention on Dec. 15, 1995, and Thursday’s examination was the first of its kind for the country.

The committee was expected to finish its discussions Friday and issue recommendations on its findings in late March.

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