According to the Jan. 25 Associated Press article “Discrimination claims die hard in Japan,” politician Hiromu Nonaka pulled out of the 2001 prime minister race after Taro Aso, now the prime minister, allegedly referred to Nonaka’s roots as a “burakumin,” a descendant of former outcasts.
In my opinion, racial prejudice is a significant problem, but when it occurs within one society, it is absolutely horrible. What is most upsetting about Aso is his denial that he made the comment despite evidence that he did. For this reason, how Aso became the prime minister is still a mystery to many.
As an American born and raised in Japan, and having gone through the Japanese elementary school system, I am not necessarily criticizing the Japanese. I would like to point out that we Americans just voted in an African-American as president. Not so long ago, black Americans suffered under rigid discrimination policies. Although we do not know if Barack Obama will be successful, we are willing to make a change.
Human beings must learn to accept each other, even those said to be different from the majority, for the sake of peace. Although Nonaka missed his chance, I wish others with so-called burakumin roots will consider running for public office to let all Japanese know that they are capable of leading the country successfully.
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