UN racism expert reports on Japan

The Japan Rimes has reported that the U.N.’s expert on racism and discrimination has called on Japan to enact a national law condemning racism. After visiting Japan for a nine-day mission, Doudou Diene says that racial discrimination and xenophobia are deeply-rooted in Japanese society.

Most countries have problems with discrimination, but it’s more marked in Japan because Japan has relatively few foreign residents. To make matters worse, there are also some ethnic minorities and even second- and third-generation people born in Japan who are still considered to be foreigners.

Diene says that Japan is obliged to enact anti-discrimination laws because is is a member of the U.N. International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination. Japan can definitely talk the talk, as demonstrated by this excerpt from a UN press release from last year’s UN General Assembly.

ATSUKO HESHIKI (Japan), stressing his [sic] Government’s efforts to end racism, racial discrimination and xenophobia, said the fight against racism must confront ignorance and prejudice through the understanding of history and the education of succeeding generations about the dignity and worth of each human being. Japan hoped the resolution adopted by the Commission on Human Rights for “a world programme for human rights education” would contribute to the promotion of human rights and to the reduction of violence based on racial discrimination.

The final report on the visit will be published next year. Perhaps the new report will help get the government moving to deal with discrimination.

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5 comments on “UN racism expert reports on Japan”

  1. 1
    SL said (8 September 2007 at 5:22 pm)

    I’m so tired of people labeling Japan as racist just because it is xenophobic. There’s a huge difference. Japan’s homogeneity is one of the things I love most about it, as a foreigner. In America I grew up being taught that I must be extra careful not to step on people’s toes with the language I use regarding anybody who is different from me. Everybody is an (insert ethnicity here) American. Everybody is “special” and we have to be ultra-sensitive to it. I respect Japan more because you actually have to try to fit in. Just being your crude gaijin self is not enough. You have to spend time learning Japanese language and culture and come to understand the Japanese point of view. I would hate for America (A.K.A. The UN, in this case – who doesn’t even accept Japan as a member, but will take in poison-exporting, North Korean ally, China) to impose its will and cultural values on a country it doesn’t understand, hasn’t tried to understand, and probably never will understand. Basically what I’m saying is that it’s far more stressful to have to walk down the street in The States trying not to look at minorities the wrong way for fear of being dragged into a conflict or branded a biggot, than it is to put up with a few awkward stares on your daily Tokyo commute. There, I said what nobody else dared. you can demonize me now.

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