Akuzawa-Saito: Letters to the Editors...

Minderheiten in Japan: Ainu, Buraku, Ryukyu people, Koreans
Source: The Asia-Pacific Journal | Japan Focus Volume 19 | Issue 9 | Number 7 | Article ID 55928 | May 01, 2021
Mit freundlicher Erlaubnis von Japan Focus

Letter to the Editors of the Review of Law and Economics:
“On the invention of Identity Politics: The Buraku Outcastes in Japan” by J. Mark Ramseyer

Mariko Akuzawa, Naoko Saito

Introductory Note by Akuzawa Mariko

This letter is more than our expression of dissent to the article, “On the invention of Identity Politics: The Buraku Outcastes in Japan” by J. Mark Ramseyer; it is meant to call for the participation of Japanese scholars in fact-checking. It is a matter of academic integrity for all scholars who are engaged in research on Buraku issues to have their voices included. We need sociologists, historians, and scholars from other disciplines to fully examine this highly problematic article. By writing this, we want to get the ball rolling.

Therefore, the letter, sent to the editors-inchief of the Review of Law and Economics, was also published in full on the website of IMADR, an international human rights NGO. For publication in The Asia-Pacific Journal: Japan Focus, we have made minor modifications by adding some endnotes. 

In addition, our letter does not just address those in the academic community. The general public has no access to such an academic paper, let alone the people from Buraku communities. We believe it is the responsibility of academics to provide evidence of the author’s academic fallacies to the broader society, as part of our shared challenges against a dangerous form of historical revisionism.

A key point is that Ramseyer, writing almost two decades after the termination of the last Dōwa Special Measures Law, asserts that Burakumin identity is “fictive” and seeks to nullify it. When the law was still in effect, empowerment and “coming-out” by Buraku communities and individuals with Buraku origins were preconditions for designation as recipients of Dōwa Special Measures Projects. However, since the termination of the law, many schools stopped teaching anything that might lead to identifying Buraku (communities or personal origin) on the assumption that it was wrong to identify them without legal foundation.

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