The Creation of Another from the Others

An Analysis of a Small Buraku in a Precarious Community


Without belonging to the general community, it is impossible for the members of a small buraku, consisting of only seven households, to conduct daily life. An additional prerequisite of success is their voluntary involvement in the controlling neighborhood association. This community is in a farming area. There, burakumin behave largely as has been expected of them by the general public. Traditional gemeinschaft relations, however, are insufficient to relieve community anxiety and solve crises. Burakumin did join the neighborhood association, and did assume heavy responsibilities. The general public also benefited from the dowa policy, and the burakumin were encouraged to enlarge the dowa district. These things seemed to remedy buraku / non-buraku relations. However, burakumin hopes were not actualized. Attitudes of the general public toward burakumin have been shifting from general inclusion to specific, targeted exclusion. The broad public has persuaded the burakumin to “monsterize” one of its own. In short, through “monsterization,” they have created a new other from out of the others.

Keywords: small buraku, the general community, neighborhood association

1. Examining Small Buraku in the Context of the General Community: Toward a New Method

1.1 The Location of the Small Buraku

The presentations of buraku are diverse. This is first apparent in the dimensions of households and population. In 1965, an investigation of 16 buraku, undertaken as a basis for political argument, was published by The Dowa Policy Council of the Cabinet as, “The Report of the Dowa Policy Council” (Report). Of the 16 studied, the largest buraku had 6,742 households; the smallest had 33 households. [Report 1965: 111]

A 1993 Cabinet Office investigation found, among 3,975 buraku surveyed, that those buraku consisting of fewer than 49 households made up 68.6%. In the Chugoku region alone, they made up an impressive 79.7% of the total, while buraku of fewer than 9 households made up 38.4% of the total. These ratios were higher in Chugoku than in any other region [Buraku Liberation and Human Rights Institute 2001: 505]. The object of the present paper is a certain buraku consisting of 7 households. It is located in Hiroshima Prefecture, in the Chugoku region. According to a 1973 investigation by Mihara City (Hiroshima Prefecture), the smallest buraku there consisted of only 7 persons. Buraku of fewer than 20 persons made up 28.1% of the Mihara City total. [Mihara City 1973: 195-201]. In Hiroshima Prefecture broadly, before the Second World War, there were 138 buraku consisting of 2 or fewer households, and these made up 20% of the Hiroshima Prefecture total. [Amano 1975: 159]. A 7-household buraku, therefore, is not exceptional.

However, there is no definition of small buraku. Frequently, the residents in small buraku are not able to organize irrigation associations autonomously. In the agricultural areas, they do not keep the agricultural water right opposing the general public communities. On common sense, the forming of the neighborhood association by 30 households scale buraku is impossible. Generally, the neighborhood association includes small buraku. But, there are times that the general public organizations refused initiations of burakumin. Then, they have no alternative but to organize own neighborhood association. In other words, such scale buraku has possibility to organize a neighborhood association even if forced. Therefore, this paper, according to the 1993 investigation, designates less than 9 households buraku the small buraku. In the buraku of such a scale, there is no precedent that a neighborhood association is organized.

It is impossible to analyze 9 household buraku located in agricultural district by the urban large-scale buraku model. In a buraku having autonomous neighborhood association and a buraku being included in the general public community, because the quality of daily relations is different, appearances of discrimination include differences. This paper, therefore, will analyze the relationships between one of small buraku and neighborhood association focusing on two points. First, this paper analyzes integrative function of a neighborhood association with transformation of agricultural community. Second, based on it, it will analyze the metamorphosis of relationship between buraku and non-buraku communities.

1.2 About established studies

The previous small buraku studies are very few. While being few, Kiyohide Ishimoto’s work has organized discussions. His field Mitsugi-cho was an area 30 km from this paper’s field. There, he analyzed agriculture and other occupations, employment patterns and economic status [Ishimoto 1991:48-9]. He described the 1 or 2 households buraku [Ishimoto 1991:48-9]. He however did not discuss about the relationships among buraku and non- buraku after publishing of “Report”, huge number of local governments implemented many fact-finding investigations, but they did not analyze the relationship of both communities. In these senses, analyzing small brake is beneficial.

1.3 “The General Community” and the Neighborhood Association

In this paper, the general community and neighborhood association are the key words. An ambiguous noun “the general community” in this paper, is a traditional folk living environments constructed historically and geographically1. Recently, these communities are destabilizing confronting with the crises of the agriculture that was a basis of existences of public. These communities have been mediating the nation states and residents. Even if society transforms, relations of the state and the general community have been always reconstructing depending on the transformations. Frequently, practicing policies, the local governments utilize the structure of power in the general community. Katsuo Nakagawa analyzed the transfiguration proses of a neighborhood association in a business castle town [Nakagawa 1989]. In often function, the neighborhood association acted on interests of the local government. When the local governmental policies changed, the acts of neighborhood association shifted. Yuichi Ueda mentioned an affinity between both organizations [Ueda 1989: 439-61]. He also analyzed the neighborhood association as pressure groups and as basis of candidates or as electoral cooperation organizations [Ueda 1090: 442-59]. A view in common of both works is that the “neighborhood association” adjusts interests between the local powers and residents.

More importantly, the general communities have a function as an inclusive and an executive organ controlling community. The collapsing “Ie” system and personalizing society discomfort people. Therefore, dispelling the discomfort, people intend to reintegrate the function of “the general communities”.

1.4 About the Investigation

This paper samples a 7-household buraku in a northern suburb of Fukuyama City. As this buraku does not have a particular name, it shall herein be referred to as, “Buraku A.” It is, to downtown, approximately one hour by train or bus. Members of Buraku A live in the two bordering districts of Nishimine and Higashimine. They are not presently organized with the Buraku Liberation Movement. This paper will focus on residents of Nishimine from 87 households, including 5 households belonging to Buraku A.

Participant observation and oral testimonies by residents of both the general community, and Buraku A, go into this paper. Recorded talks of the general public about buraku and burakumin are especially essential parts.

2. Buraku A within a Destabilized General Community

2.1 Buraku A and the Process of Dismantlement

Until the early 1970s, 24 persons from 5 households formed Buraku A, which was, at this time, in Higashimine. Relationships of mutual cooperation were spontaneously established and continued. Inhabitants were few; therefore, agricultural tasks were joint operations. Family unity was strong. Harvests were shared. Buddhist ceremonies were well attended.

Buraku A was located on steeply-sloped land, which has been considered to be a geographical circumstance specific to buraku [Report, 1965: 10]. Other inhabitants of Higashimine lived on flatter land by the river. However, in Nishimine, building on steeply-sloped land was a geographical and socio-economic necessity, and hence common among the general community. Up until the 1970s, most homes were built on steeply-sloped land. The evidence remains in the old house foundations. The preservation of farmland was a precious priority. Even today, many Nishimine residents live on land so steeply-sloped that damages occur from landslides. The general Japanese public must often take such risks, for, according to the Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries, a full 65% of the country is steeply-sloped land, and these lands are very valuable in the nation’s agriculture.

Currently, 7 households, consisting of 21 residents, form Buraku A. Table 1 demonstrates transitions of population, and the age hierarchy of Buraku A. Table 2 explains each family member’s age, sex, educational attainment, and occupation. “The first generation” includes all persons born prior to 1945. Buraku A has representatives of generations 1 through 4. However, this paper treats only of the first and second generations. Alphabet letters O through U are used to designate each household. The lower space for each household has the names of persons who have moved away, for marriage, business, etc. All names are pseudonyms.

By the 1950s, the sisters of the first generation had all left to other buraku, for marriages. By the mid-1970s, Buraku A had experienced a great structural change as the remaining members of the first generation moved from Higashimine to Nishimine. Mitsuhiko Takayama (S), a dealer in school uniforms, was the first to leave. He moved 600 meters off, to a new shop and house built beside the main road. Takeshi Takayama (T), feeling his house had gotten too old, built a new house, and moved into it. Mitsuo Takayama (P) moved to a public housing unit, 1.5 km from his former house. The local government had constructed three units of public housing in Nishimine, for “Dowa-taisakujigyo,” a kind of affirmative-action program. At about the same time that Mitsuo moved, his son, Hitoshi Takayama, also moved into another unit of public housing, having just married. Soon after this, Mitsuo’s daughter, Yoko Takayama, moved to Fukuyama City. In the 1990s, Nobuo Takayama (O) and his family moved to Nishimine. Their house had become too old, and the move was convenient for their agricultural activities.

Nobuo Takayama, Mitsuo Takayama, and Goro Takayama were brothers. They each had their own families in the 1950s. The eldest brother, Goro, inherited the family home. He lived there, and took care of his parents. Nobuo had a small house on an adjacent plot of land. Mitsuo, because of bad health, lived with his family in Goro’s house, in a semi-independent 6-tatami-mat room. (Table 1 shows these three nuclear families.)

Family circumstances in Buraku A were not markedly unlike those of other Japanese families after the Second World War. As Mami Iwakami noted, “The eldest son inherits all the estate entirely, and other brothers leave the “Ie.”” [Iwakami 2007: 79-81] Sisters marry into their husbands’ families. In those days, when the first generation of Buraku A was getting married, Japan was still a youthful society. Few families consisted of three generations. The Report indicates such. [Report 1965: 10-11]

Two families moved into Nishimine from other districts. Tsuyoshi Takayama (Q) had a good, stable job in a time of strong economic growth. He built a new house on land inherited from his father. Kiichi Yamaguchi (R), benefiting from affirmative action policies, was able to have the last remaining of the three public-housing units.

Buraku A’s population peaked at 33 members during the 1980s, and has since decreased to 21 members. (See Table 1.) Distance crept in among the households, and even blood-relatives have let relationships go cold. Buraku A has, now, lost its functions as an organized settlement, and is characterised, rather, by disorganization. Buraku A has even failed to maintain its branch of the Buraku Liberation League. (Its BLL branch had once been a strong uniting factor; but the BLL branch itself required union among its members. As the settlement broke up, so did its BLL branch.) Nevertheless, for the purposes of analysis and description, this paper treats Buraku A as a settlement still.

Table 1
Age\Date Early 1960s Mid-1970s Mid-1980s Mid-1990s Mid-2000s Early 2010s
0 - 9633242

Table 2* Name, age, sex, educational attainment, and occupation
Belonging to Nishimine Belonging to Higaishimine
  O P Q R S T U
1st *Nobuo Takayama
80, M
Senior elementary school / Farmers

*Sayo T
80, F
Senior elementary school / Farmers
*Mitsuo Takayama

Deceased, M
Senior elementary school / Factory worker

*Fumiko T
Decedent, F
Senior elementary school/ Part-time worker
*Tuyoshi T
Deceased, M
Senior elementary school/ National Railway worker

*Sachie T
Decedent, F
Girls’ school/ Unemployed
*Kiichi Yamaguchi
80, M
Senior elementary school/ Foundry worker

*Kiyomi Y
Decedent, F
Junior high school/
*Mitsuhiko T
Deceased, M
Senior elementary school/ Retailer

*Sonoe T
80, F
Senior elementary school/Unemployed
*Takeshi Takayama
80, M
Senior elementary school/Unemployed

*Yuko T
Deceased, F
Elementary school/Unemployed
*Goro Takayama
Deceased, M
Senior high school/Farmers

*Tokie T
Deceased, F
Senior elementary school/Unemployed
2nd *Yoshito T
50, M
Senior high school / Farming family
(Factory worker)

*Setsuko T
50, F
Senior high school / Farming family
(Part-time worker)
*Hitoshi T
60, M
Junior high school/ Pants press
*Ryouichi T
60, M
University/ Business manager

*Yoshiko T
60, F
Civil servant
  *Minoru T
50, M
Senior high school/ Farming family / Retailor

*Yumi T
50, F
Senior high school/Inoccupation
*Kazutaka T
Senior high school/ Japan Tobaco- Contract employee

50, F
Junior high school/Unemployed
*Tadashi T
60, M
Senior high school/Japan Tabaco

*Ikuko T
60, M
Senior high school/Unemployed
  *Yoko T
50, F
Senior high school
  *Kenzo Y
50, M
Senior high school /JR worker

*Sanae Y
50, F
Technical academy/ Waitress
*Aiko T
40, F
Senior high school/ Salesclerk

2.2 Shifting Occupations, and Destabilization in Nishimine

Most of the flat land in Nishimine is given over to agriculture. The government, in 1969, working on the Land Improvement Act of 1949, began an Agricultural Structural Improvement Project in Nishimine. Therefore all of its rice paddies (30 ha. total) are nice and rectangular. Its roads are all wide and straight, and well-surfaced. Irrigation wells, with electric pumps, provide a stable water supply for the paddies. This infrastructure building project ended in 1982. Lands cultivated by residents of Buraku A all lie within the area of this project, and were improved by it.

The residents’own lives were much improved. Nishimine, in this period, was converted from a pure farm economy into one with multiple inputs. In 1965, Fukuyama City received a steel plant from the Nipponkokan (NKK) Corporation. (Now JFE.) This enormous plant promoted a great diversity of occupational opportunities, and not only for Fukuyama City. From neighbouring towns, workers rode in on buses provided by employers. There were jobs enough for everyone.

But this period of government stimulus and steel-plant investment ended. In 1980, NKK employed 24,575 workers at Fukuyama. By the end of the decade, in 1989, NKK employed only 18,137 [Yamagaki, 2005: 36]. The Annuals of the Japanese Workings for 1988, published by the Ohara Institute of Hosei University, designated iron manufacturing a depressed industry. It showed how NKK’s management planned to cut both its output and its workforce. NKK Fukuyama’s crude-steel production was cut from 90 million tons in 1988, to 80 million tons in 1989. Its workforce was cut by 5,000. The heretofore perceived diversity of occupational choice was, perhaps, a bit unreal.

Returning to agriculture was no longer an option for most. Nishimine’s agricultural scene had collapsed even while NKK was being built. Up until the late 1960s, most farmers were “double-cropping” (producing two crops per year). Additionally, the neighbouring town of Shin-ichi was a major producer of kasuri, a traditional textile. Under the historical influence of Shin-ichi, many residents of Nishimine had been, since the Edo period, engaged, at least part-time, in indigo-dying. But this is all past. Double-cropping is hardly done anymore. Vegetables are produced, but mostly for private consumption. If any are sold, it is only to small community markets. And, at present, there are no more textile-dyers. Nishimine has lost its traditional work-style, and its regional characteristics.

Noboru Hosoya notes that the term “farm household” even disappeared from documents of the Ministry of Agriculture, Foresty and Fisheries (MAFF) during this time, and the term, “agricultural management entity” was invented to supplant it. [Hosoya 2005: 2] MAFF, that is, came to understate aspects of “Ie” or family, so important to the character of Japanese agriculture. In Nishimine, too, the decreasing importance of agriculture was becoming an evident, and officially recognized, fact. The census found it quite impossible to analyze little Nishimine. After hearing from residents, census-takers had to come up with the following eight categories. 1. Farmer. 2. Farmer with sideline. 3. Employed, with agriculture sideline. 4. Self-employed, with agriculture sideline. 5. Self-employed. 6. Having uncultivated farmland. 7. Employed, non-farm. 8. Other, and Unclear. Figure 1 shows the proportions.

Collapsed, too, was the practice of the eldest son inheriting the “Ie,” including responsibility for the family. If some eldest-sons did inherit the “Ie” with agricultural lands, they generally refused to inherit the concomitant occupation. Many of the same refused to inherit the family duties. Now, those of the “baby boom” generation are inheriting agricultural lands, but no skills. They will not be able to hand any farm techniques to the next generation.

One such “baby boomer” is resident Okada. Following high school, Okada worked at a company in downtown Fukuyama. Then he retired back to the land. But neither Okada nor his wife were instructed in agriculture. They simply fumble along, inventing techniques ex nihilo. “As a teenager, I helped my father in the busy season. But I know nothing about farming. There are a lot of people like me, with fallow land and no skills.”


2.3 Decreasing fertility and increasing longevity

The Fukuyama Council of Social Welfare has the 65-years-and-older demographic, for the school area including Nishimine, to be 31.1%. This is 8.1 points higher than the national average. A precise figure for Nishimine’s village limits does not exist. However, looking at the Nishimine neighborhood association, the population 65 years and older is 104 out of 255 people, or, 40.8%. This is less than 10 points away from “marginal village” status - which Nishimine may well yet achieve, as its “baby boomer” generation continues to age. The population under 50 years old is already under 50%.

The decline in births, too, is noticeable. In 2012, 23 boys and girls from Nishimine were going to elementary school, with six children graduating that year, and only 3 entering. In 1983, expecting more children, Fukuyama City Hall purchased a site for a new nursery school in the Nishimine area. Contrary to official expectations, there were fewer children, and the plan was scrapped. There were about 180 children of nursery-school age in the Nishimine area, in 1983. Now, there are approximately 80. Parents, these days, are anxious about the consolidation and elimination of school clubs and activities - and even of school buildings. Anxiety also extends to the continuance of reputable juku, or private preparatory schools.

Nishimine used to have 3 food retailers, a bakery, an electronics shop, and a school-uniform supplier. There is now only 1 food retailer, which also caters lunches to the schools and nursery schools. Until the early 1980s, Nishimine shops seemed immune from mass-merchandise shopping malls. The local people provided a fixed market. But this has all changed, due in part to the busier schedules of farmers’ families, and dwindling demand for the “grandparents’ markets” where snacks and toys were purchased for grandchildren.

Under these circumstances, some shocking new incidents have occurred. There was a house fire, in which one old man, who lived alone, went missing. Someone has been stealing vegetables from Nishimine gardens. And several homes have been burgled and vandalized. Even during the 1980s, it was not considered necessary to lock the door when going out. Now it is essential. At the nearby (unmanned) JR train station, a molestation incident has residents discomposed. News of suspicious persons in the area is passed from door to door. Anti-crime signs invite residents to raise the alarm. At meetings of the welfare association of Nishimine, a main concern is the worries of single-person (and elderly) households.

Nishimine is no longer a genuine agricultural community; therefore it will not be attracting or creating any agricultural corporations. Nor is Nishimine a bedroom community for people who work downtown. Indeed, as a community, Nishimine has no identity, and neither any vision. This is an existential problem that lies quietly, but heavily, on Nishimine’s remaining people.

2.4 Agricultural Management Changing and Stratum Reconstructing

Because the Agricultural Structural Improvement Project in Nishimine was financed from the national treasury, the government prohibits diversion other than agricultural lands. Weeds are sources of agricultural pests, and the owners of deserted cultivated lands get accusation. Therefore, for disses and aging, if they became not to be abele to cultivate their farmland, they entrusted cultivation to other farmers being younger than them and having heavy agricultural machineries. They call this relationship “kosaku”, a sharecropping contract. This contract is different from feudalistic sharecropping. The mean ratio of farm rent that is trust charges is seven for the entrustee to three for the entruster of the cropping. The ratios are different every testimonies of the entrustee and entruster2. However, it is clear that the entrustee have an advantage in their relationship. The entrustee sells the rice consumers directly.In Nishimine, two households entrusted about 10-cho (26 acres). They have consignors in other areas of Nishimine district. Yasushi Uekusa, one of two 10-cho farmer, begun agriculture by a sharecropping contract in 1995. Koubun Watanabe, a chairman of Nishimine Neighborhood Association testify that other famer are “san-tan hyakusho” having only less than about 0.8 acres agricultural land. In this condition, entrusted households are concerned over the possibility to buy rice for their daily table from other. In a decade, the government will lift the legal regulation for conversion and buying and selling, therefore, owners persist in maintaining their land expecting rising in price.

When Uekusa became an entrustee, worldwide and heavy pressure, which was mainly Uruguay Round in GATT, goaded Japan market liberalization of agricultural commodities market. In 1922, the government released a document, “The New Model of Foods Supplying, Agriculture and agricultural villages” that showed business expansion plan to be able to endure international competitions of agriculture.

Incomes of already-described 10-cho model is probably the following. In Nishimine, profits per 1 cho are 1,260,000 yen. Production costs per 1 cho are 120,000 yen. Heavy agricultural machineries were 8,000,000 yen, and they amortize those in 8 years. 30% of profits belong to landowners. Therefore, their annual pre-tax profits are about 7,300,000 yen. In a case of “3 tan hyakusho”, their annual incomes are less than 300,000 yen, and they did not live by only agriculture.

The Land Improvement Act of 1949 prohibited buying and selling of farmlands. However, under certain conditions, it is possible. Because usually owners and farmers were different, under the long relation of “kosaku”, it is uneasy to recognized tradition of land ownership rights. Actually, the households went into adversity put their agricultural lands for sale clandestinely. Ryouichi Takayama and Yoshito Takayama experienced sale talks for agricultural land for a song in Nishimine. At least, such things can confirm two cases in these three years. A bankruptcy and two cases of flit occurred. The domestic accounts in Nishimine, probably, will be changing for the worse. Originally, there is no individual belonging wealthy class. Recently, families receiving public assistance appeared. Other hand, such as Uehara, persons who have management abilities for proactive agricultural management entity are born. The shifting structure of agricultural management brought dissolution and reconstruction of the stratum in Nishimine.

2.5 Circumstances of Agriculture in Buraku A: Small Conflict

Of the 5 households of Buraku A in Nishimine, 3 have persons employed in agriculture. The only kosaku contractor is Nobuo Takayama, of household (O). Takayama got into it in the early 2000s, slightly later than Uekasa. Agricultural lands contracted by Takayama amount to 2 tan (0.54 acres). Takayama says, broadly, that he loves farming, and always wanted to increase his lands. He is, or was, a proud kosaku farmer.

Takayama’s first assignor was the late Kazuma Taue, an executive at an Osaka textile firm. From the beginning of their contract, Takayama and Taue held very different perceptions concerning their kosaku relationship. “I let that idiot farm in order to provide for his family,” said Mr Taue. Of whom it was said by Mr Takayama, “No ability, no knowledge of farming he had - only a lot of land. I plow it for him, out of kindness.” Taue used to treat Takayama as an employee. Now, however, that the Taue family has grown old, and the Takayama family has young workers and heavy machinery, the relationship’s dynamic is substantially changed.

A keen student of world agro-politics, and understanding the national policy from 1992, Takayama chose to penetrate, aggressively, the kosaku market. He was well prepared to adjust himself to the abolition of affirmative action, in 2002. From the 1970s, Takayama had made effective use of the Dowa-taisakujigyo. The national and prefectural governments had aggressively moved to improve infrastructure for buraku, and had invested heavily in communal machinery for buraku. Other of Takayama’s neighbors, who did not make use of these programs when they existed, now cannot.

Nobuo’s son, Yoshito, is a taciturn man. But when the conversation gets around to farming, Yoshito becomes quite eloquent. He has studied agriculture since high school. In 2012, the aging Nobuo gave his land contracts, and the management thereof, to his son. Yoshito and his wife Setsuko cultivate a total of 4 cho. Yoshito is ambitious. He has already invested 20 million yen into threshing and drying machines. Anxious for his parents, and expecting no help from them, Yoshito is trying to streamline his production. It is tough. His annual income from farming is 2.9 million yen. Existing equipment loans lay heavy - and more are planned. Additionally, as landowners continue to lose agricultural skills, there is growing competition for kosaku rights. Setsuko has had to take a part-time job from 2012.

3. Co-ordinating Functions of Neighborhood Associations

3.1 Outline of the Nishimine Neighborhood Association

Nishimine, with 10 other communities, belongs to the Yamada School District. The population of this district is 3,883 persons, in 1,406 households. Each of the 11 communities has its own neighborhood association. Major residential developments will form new, independent neighborhood associations. Each neighborhood association has subordinate bodies, called, “jokai.” Each jokai is split into several squads. The hierarchy of board members, then, is this - from the top down: neighborhood-association chairman; vice-chairman; jokai chairmen; and squad leaders. The Nishimine neighborhood association has 4 jokai, named geographically. A jokai has 3 to 6 teams, and each team consists of about 10 households. So much for vertical relations. There are also, within the Nishimine neighborhood association, horizontally-aligned bodies devoted to various issues. There is a hygiene committee, a women’s committee, a traffic safety committee, an athletic committee, and a welfare committee. Every committee has its own board members. The list of board members includes the name of a (volunteer) national-government social worker, and a legal adjunct local-government officer.

Residents of Buraku A belong to their various teams and bodies, depending on place of residence. In the Yamada School District, there are no other buraku apart from Buraku A.

Nishimine folk may also belong to the koujin (a denomination of Shinto) shrine parishioners’ association; the commonage association3; the agricultural affairs union; and the irrigation association. There was also, until recently, a taxpayers’ union4, the membership status of which was supreme. But it became redundant. Traditionally, the shrine organization used to be the most important. Nowadays, however, the neighborhood association is paramount for influence, money, and power. The neighborhood association informally coordinates these (formally) independent organizations.

The neighborhood association also serves the local government, administering various programs, eg. health, fire prevention, and disaster training. In Nishimine, since 2012, there has been a great increase in activities of the neighborhood association’s welfare committee. City officials, concerned about the aging population, encourage these events.

Occupations, lifestyles, and values, both personal and social, are being transformed together with the changes to agriculture and industry. One result is that it is becoming increasingly difficult to maintain all of the many neighborhood association functions. To fill the 25 one-year positions of the board of the association, households, reluctantly, take turns.

3.2 Neighborhood Associations’ Function and Meaning of Existence

The Nishimine neighborhood association decides all matters unanimously. Usually, decision-making is kept nice and simple. Infrequently, however, the association’s meetings do become heated.

The right of joining the association, and the right of withdrawing from it, belongs to each individual. Theoretically, then, the organization is democratic. In practice, however, participating neighbors will be witnessed backbiting non-participating neighbors. Backbiting occurs, for example, when a next-generation branch household (an eldest son and his wife, say) insists that it still belongs to the household of the parent generation. Or, to cite another example, when a household moves into Nishimine from a neighboring area, and does not join the Nishimine neighborhood association. Such non-joiners are criticized as free riders. Members pay annual fees to their neighborhood association, and volunteer their time and effort to it. Those fees and labors go into neighborhood programs that benefit all, including non-members. Resentment, naturally, is felt.

Happily, incidences such as these are rare. There have been, anyway, in the last four decades, only 10 new households to Nishimine, which has a total of 78 households. The newcomers generally work hard to prove themselves in the eyes of the established families. Indeed, it is this paper’s opinion, formed from observation, that the newcomers work rather harder in the neighborhood association than do the old-timers.

It is, generally speaking, impossible to dissolve a neighborhood association5, for 2 reasons. One, a fair distribution of the assets accumulated by the association is almost impossible. Two, a neighborhood association is an organ of power. Members do not so much exert power against each other, as individuals. Rather, the administration of discipline forms a complex of relationships. Most residents feel comfortable in this network, and would neither wish to leave it nor dissolve it. The neighborhood association therefore exists as a power apparatus of self-government.

By unwritten rule, residents of Nishimine consider teir various behaviors to be “public” or “private.” It goes like this, according to one participant’s observations. “Public” acts are for maintaining the circumstances of the community, or for discussing matters pertinent to the entire community. Members come together, each expecting equal treatment, or equal service, from an association program. “Private” acts are those which are unrelated to the maintenance of the community. Sports meets are therefore “private,” even if every household happens to join. Irrespective of religion, funerals are “public.” Weddings are “private.” The Nishimine neighborhood association organizes funeral committees. These are attended by Buraku A members. However, Buraku A members are never invited to the weddings of their non-buraku majority neighbors. In 2010, following a sports meet of the school district, Kazutaka Takayama - a resident of Buraku A in Higashimin - held an “after-party” at his house. Kazutaka was the vice-chairman of the planning committee for the sports meet. Many non-buraku neighbors came, making the event a notable first-time occasion. Prior to it, Nishimine residents had never come to a Buraku A party - this according to Ryouichi Takayama (related), a retired city hall official, and the source of this information.

Residents of Buraku A belong to the irrigation association, and the agricultural affairs union, which are public organizations. In Nishimine, it is common for households to share farm equipment through mutual ownership, for the purpose of collaborative work. These arrangements are “private,” however. Buraku A residents have never belonged to such sharing co-operatives. The administrator, to help with this, undertook some programs of agricultural- and environmental improvement, such as the “Dowa-taisakujigyo.” As a result, beginning in the 1980s, Buraku A has enjoyed better agricultural circumstances.

The public programs of the Nishimine neighborhood association may be put into two categories. The first is compulsory programs. The second is voluntary programs.

An example of compulsory programs is the twice-annual keburiyaku - a program for the cleaning up and maintaining of main drainage canals. Participation is an absolute duty for every resident. Households that are unable to perform their duties must pay 3,000 yen to the neighborhood association. These fines have both a compelling function, and a rationalizing or excusing function for those persons too old to attend - or too frail, or too busy, or absent from town, or what-have-you. The hygiene committee also has a strong constraint. Members must keep clean their garbage station. They must also enlighten residents concerning the segregation of domestic refuse, prohibited materials, and so on - all rules which must be obeyed by all.

The voluntary category includes such things as athletic programs. Residents may not - it is true - be able to refuse their selection as members of the athletic committee. However, failing to attend the school district’s four seasonal athletic events does not bring condemnation or criticism. Compulsion is unnecessary, anyway. These events are always well-attended. Residents sincerely believe that they are important players in municipal events. “Without us, city hall could do nothing,” is a frequent observation. Residents believe that is is they themselves who make things happen in their neighborhood. From this attitude proceed protests and complaints against city administrators. Where protests exist, power arises. [Foucault 1984a: 262]. Therefore, the neighborhood association functions as an alternative apparatus of administration, and provides a space in which residents create power from the base of their common life. In this space, residents individualize power. Residents of Buraku A certainly co-exist in this same realm.

The neighborhood association allows people to cast away anxieties, and to create cozy human relationships - different from blood relationships - with the active discipline of self-government and mutual surveillance. Residents of Buraku A, sharing no blood relationship with other residents in Nishimine, are thereby able to be fully engaged in the programs of the Nishimine neighborhood association.

4. Inclusion Includes Exclusion

4.1 The Reality of Discrimination outside of Nishimine

Residents of Buraku A do not receive discriminatory treatment as public acts of the Nishimine neighborhood association. They do, however, often encounter unfairness in business. Company G, managed by Ryouichi Takayama (Q) once made some certain deals with the head office of Company C, in Hiroshima City. Toward the end of the Bubble Era, an anonymous letter arrived at Company C. “One of Company G’s officers comes from a dowa district. Not to contract with this firm would be the best choice. You are a respectable company listed on the first section of the Tokyo Stock Exchange.” At the same time, Company G received this anonymous message: “You are a filthy dowa. Don’t deal with Company C. This is a warning.”

Before it penetrated into Fukuyama City, a popular department store offered to do business with Copmany G, through a third company, an agency of corporate image strategy. This was on the referral of the main bank of Company G and the agency, also a client of the bank. Takayama employed two people, and trained them as industry-ready planners for that department store’s entrance to Fukuyama. However, the agency rescinded the contract unilaterally. According to the testimony of one bank worker, the reason lay in Takayama’s birthplace. At this time, small businesses did not normally make contracts with clients. As a result, Company G experienced great loss.

Another example: Yoshiko Takayama (Q), in a furniture shop, was given a look of disgust and denied shipping of anything to her own address.

4.2 The Look in District Eyes, and “Talking”

Beginning in the 1980s, Fukuyama City Hall has had each neighborhood association organize.

annual human rights study sessions. Till the end of the 1990s, the discussion was to be on the resolution of the buraku issue. In Nishimine, Buraku A residents participated. Few residents expressed their actual opinions on the buraku issue, however. Having (frequently) guilty consciences concerning historical buraku discrimination, many people could say nothing even if they wanted to. The leaders of the sessions would make prefacing invitations to speak up, such as, “During this session you can say what you want. Even if your ideas are considered to be discriminatory, you still have a right to say it.” But participants, suspicious, declined. “Guarantee our right to make any statements,” became a common call. Since the 2000s, Fukuyama City Hall has failed to send its staff to sessions. Board members of neighborhood associations engaged in co-ordinating sessions for themselves. Gradually, the topic shifted away from the buraku issue, and toward topics such as the aging population, and universal-access design, city officials having decided to designate these as a kind of human rights issue. Residents of Buraku A allowed the topic to be shifted. They were aware that touching on the buraku issue brought, or would bring, confusion into their community.

Recently, however, people have come to speak up about the buraku issue, and other human rights issues, without hesitation. One study session in September, 2012 shows the difference from before. The discussion was supposed to be on sexual harassment. Fifty Nishimine residents participated. The following dialogue emerged.

Man 1:I know that legislation prohibits sexual harassment. But if we are going to stick, always, perfectly to the rules, then society won’t be able to go on.Companies won’t be able to function. I think men and women have different roles. It’s easy to talk about equality, but in real life…

Woman 1:What did you just say? What you have just said, there, is a typical sexist remark. And aren’t you guilty of sexual harassment on your own wife, at home?

Man 2:These days, sexual harassment brings the threat of litigation.

Man 3:It isn’t very easy to make a policy that would deal with sex pests. Except, maybe, in big companies.

Woman 2: That’s not the point.

Mihashi:Come to think of it, I don’t get any more kikiawase these days.

Takayama:Kikiawase? You mean inquiries for background checks?


Takayama:Like for marriage and employment?

Mihashi:Right. I used to get 20 or so a year, 10 years ago. But today…


Mihashi: I wouldn’t lie.

Takayama:And did you take these requests?

Mihashi:I did.

Presenter:Ladies and gentlemen, please let’s come back to our original discussion. The harassment issue, please.

Mihashi and Takayama belong to the same jokai. Mihashi is an aggressive retired executive officer of a construction materials company. He presently serves on the board of the Nishimine neighborhood association.

Ten years prior to this discussion, a news program on the Nippon Television Network Corporation had reported on a crime of trading in private information. Aichi Prefecture police arrested a network of “inquiry agencies” and informers. The BLL had uncovered the trade. According to the BLL’s accusation, and supported by the police investigation, the information dealers had earned approximately 200 million yen through selling mass-produced illegal copies of Kosekitohon, or family registers. It was after this clandestine business was revealed that Mihashi’s kikiawase trade began to suffer.

Being a well-informed insider of the Nishimine neighborhood association, Mihashi was undertaking 20-odd kikiawase a year, in a community of 78 households. It is unclear whether he charged money for his services. However, such investigations are not generally performed for free. The procuring and selling of private family information is a form of discrimination commoditized. It is, essentially, a niche economy.

From the evidence, including the conversation above, it cannot be ascertained that Mihashi was targeting burakumin explicitly. But nor would this be necessary, for the point is that the Nishimine residents, themselves, are already very conscious of Buraku A. And some are consciously against Buraku. The residents’ buraku-consciousness is well exemplified by the following discourse. Kono and Takayama belong to different jokai, note; however, they are members of the Nishimine neighborhood association athletic committee.

Kono: By the way, Mr Takayama, do you know how Uesugi is doing?

Takayama: What?

Kono: We went to high school together. He’s stayed me at my place once, too.

Takayama: Well, I know only one Uesugi, but I haven’t seen him in over 35 years. What was his first name… It was Akimoto.

Kono: Maybe. I don’t remember his given name.

Takayama: Big guy. Went to university in Tokyo. Played American football.

Kono: Yes, that’s the guy.

Takayama: Well, I haven’t seen him in a long, long time. I couldn’t say how he’s doing these days.

Kono: Oh. He was a good guy. And how is Mr Ban?

Takayama: Mr Ban?

Kono: Yes, you know. He lives in Miyoshi cho (a district in Fukuyama City). Mr Kawaguchi, Mr Yumamoto, and Mr Matsui, how about them? They live in Yamate cho and Honjo cho. Oh, and that reminds me. Mr Narazu. He’s another friend.

Takayama: Hmm.

Kono: Where does Mr Osaki live?

Kono is asking Takayama about all of his (Kono’s) burakumin acquaintances, and only his burakumin acquaintances. The only one that Takayama knew was Uesugi. Kono assumed that Takayama, as a burakumin, would be friends with all of his (Kono’s) burakumin friends. Kono imagines a vast, tight network of burakumin, and has them all segregated, in a friendly way, in his mind. Takayama’s comment on this exchange: “Now I know how people manage to get my personal information.”

Ryouichi Takayama, Nobuo Takayama, and Yoshiko Takayama all agree that there has been a marked increase, in the past 4 or 5 years, of “talking our matters” - frank, open talk about burakumin - by Nishimine residents. Up until the year 2000, inquiries for background checks were claimed to be for innocent “historical interest.” People, publically, did not talk about burakumin. Emotions concerning burakumin, and discriminative behaviors, were not given vent. Mihashi, however, now talks about burakumin blatantly, whilst ignoring the presence of burakumin in earshot. Additionally, Kono now deliberately questions a burakumin (Takayama) exhaustively about his burakumin, and only burakumin, acquaintances. Hitherto, people spoke about burakumin only when it was believed that no burakumin were present. [Kobayakawa, 2011: 121-2]. Nowadays, such nice considerations are not made. It is manifestly unclear whether the authors of these utterances are aware of their discriminatory consciousness.

In an interview subsequent to this episode, Kono said that the source of his knowledge was his dowa education in junior-high and high school. Kono also had some classmates from buraku. At this time Kono was exposed to the phrase, “Six thousand buraku and three million burakumin throughout the land.” This phrase, taken from the Declaration of Suiheisha, was made boilerplate language in dowa education by teachers, bureaucrats, and BLL members. The figures in the phrase are quite unscientific. They were obviously chosen for their “catchiness,” as they form a simple pun in Japanese. Dowa education also insisted that the most important thing, for the solution of the buraku issue, was the cohesion of the three million burakumin. Kono, therefore, received from his education the image of a buraku monocommunity. Much later, through the neighborhood association, Kono found his opportunity to speak with Ryouichi Takayama from Buraku A. Kono considers himself to be more knowledgeable, in buraku affairs, than Takayama.

Slogans such as “Six thousand buraku and three million burakumin throughout the land,” and, “Brothers and sisters in all buraku,” were adopted into the “scientific discourse” of buraku studies, and regurgitated by the BLM. From academic discourse, they have entered the world of practice, eg. being utilized in training courses in human rights. From there, they get into the public consciousness. Cliché images also enter the public mind by this same route, as is apparent from the following interview. Yamamoto and Nomura were attending on-the-job training in their company:

Kobayakawa: What images do you have about buraku?

Nomura:At first, I conjure up an image of the leather crafts, shoe-making, and meat-packing.

Yamamoto:I have the same image. Most bamboo craftsmen come from buraku, too. So I’ve heard. My image of the difference between buraku and us is industrial.

Kobayakawa:I see. Then you know of some buraku, or residents in a buraku, engaged in such industries?

Yamamoto: I do not, no. Not concretely.

Kobayakawa: From where, then, did you get such images?

Nomura: For me, I have got them from books.

Kobayakawa: What books?

Nomura: I am talking about books about the buraku issue, and history books.

Kobayakawa: Can you tell me the authors? Or publishers?

Nomura: I don’t remember authors’ names, but Kaiho Shuppannsha published them. Also, ah...

Kobayakawa: Akashi Shoten?

Yamamoto: Yes! I have also participated in some study sessions put on by the BLL and city hall.

Kobayakawa: Do you have any friends from buraku?

Nomura: In this district, everyone knows each other. But I don’t have any friends from buraku. Not here, and not in other districts.

Yamamoto: I don’t know. I don’t take notice of whether my friends come from buraku or not.

Surveys on civic attitudes concerning the buraku issue generally contain a question such as, “Where did you learn of the existence of buraku and burakumin?” In Fukuyama City most recently, 42.6% of respondents selected the answer: “In your junior high school or high school classroom.” [Fukuyama City Hall, 2011: 12]. In the previous survey, in 2003, 45.3% of respondents selected the same answer. [Fukuyama City Hall, 2011: 40] Roughly the same percentage of respondents selected the answer, “By your family’s instruction.” Surveys conducted in other cities similarly reveal that many or most respondents are introduced to the buraku issue at school. In Onomichi City, 31% of respondents checked “Educational opportunities,” and this was the most popular answer. [Onomichi City, 2003: 6] In Osaki-kamijima, 39.1% of respondents first learned of the buraku issue at school, and only 26.6% first learned of it at home. Among Nishimine residents, Kono, Nomura, and Yamamoto first learned of the buraku issue through public educational opportunities: Dowa education. It would seem from this that public education is the primary vector hosting and spreading stereotypes and stigma. The teachers dispute this, of course. They claim to teach anti-discrimination, and to struggle against social stereotypes.

5. A Regional Community Creating Another from the Others

One evening in September, 2011, Nishimine residents had a party after their Yamada District’s athletic meet. Ryouichi Takayama was there, being a member of the Nishimine athletic committee. During the party, Mr Tanabe, chairman of the Nishimine neighborhood association, came and sat down next to him.

Tanabe: That was a lot of work that went into today. Thank you for all of your effort.

Takayama: Oh, thank you. But really, I thank you.

Tanabe: By the way, I want to tell you that your community and organization has been a great help to us. I’m always very grateful to your community.

Takayama: Excuse me?

Tanabe: Constructing the burial ground...and the Agricultural Lands Structural Improvement Project...and many other projects. Your father and your community have helped us very much.

Takayama: Thank you for your kind words. But all of that was before my time, in my father’s generation. I did nothing. And really, I don’t know anything about those things.

Tanabe: (Suddenly addressing the young people at the party) Young ladies and gentlemen! Please remember the great services of Mr Takayama and his fellows - for the Agricultural Lands Structural Improvement Project, and for many other projects. They have helped us very much. Never forget! (Turning back to Takayama.) I think that we must treat your efforts as part of our precious heritage. However, there is one thing more I wanted to say to you.

Takayama: Please tell me.

Tanabe: I think your heritage includes some negative parts, and you must draw a clear line concerning those.

Takayama: What do you want to tell me?

Tanabe: It is about Mr Yamaguchi. His behavior is so insane. At the garbage collection site, he behaves in such an autocratic manner. Without any prerogative! He stands out there and looks at people’s garbage. If he sees that anyone has made a separation error, he yells at them. And another thing. He has no rights on the mountain. But he comes to board meetings of the commonage association, uninvited, and without appointment, and talks his crazy talk for hours on end. Seriously, his talks are three hours long.

Takayama: Hmm.ß

Tanabe: He, who has no right of management over agricultural lands whatsoever - he gets up there and criticizes us. It is insufferable. And furthermore…

(Mr Tanabe continues to talk about what he has suffered from Kiichi Yamaguchi.)

Mr Yamaguchi, 83, is visually impaired. He lives alone, and has no relation to the other residents of Buraku A. Mr Yamaguchi is a former member, vocal critic, and self-described “opponent” of the BLM. He has, however, received substantial personal benefits from the BLL’s affirmative-action programs. His two sons graduated from high school, on scholarships established by the BLL and the Japanese government. One of his sons got a job with JR, thanks to intervention from his teachers, advocating for “minority” students. Even detractors of the BLL generally admit that it has worked hard to help its members to be able to occupy good positions in society. The BLL, moreover, receives petitions from non-affiliated burakumin, such as Yamaguchi. As in the following case.

Being a newcomer to Nishimine, Yamaguchi possessed no rights of common use on the mountain commons. The BLL managed to persuade Nishimine inhabitants to offer him rights of usage. Yamaguchi’s son was able to erect his mother’s gravestone there. The gravestone still stands there, in spite of Yamaguchi’s continued protestations that he is denied equal rights. According to Yamaguchi, the residents of Nishimine, including Buraku A, are responsible for his failure to thrive in a good human environment.

In September of 2012, board members of the Nishimine Neighborhood Association discussed “Yamaguchi Case Measures” with geriatric-care managers and officials from the city’s welfare department. Ryouichi Takayama was summoned to attend. He, the association considered, was the chief victim of Mr Yamaguchi’s outrages.

In reviewing Mr Yamaguchi’s public behavior, the following was noted.

1.Mr Yamaguchi claimed to be on the “temporary staff” of a city hall garbage separation program.

2.Mr Yamaguchi patrolled the neighborhood garbage-collection site, daily.

3.Mr Yamaguchi opened neighbor’s garbage bags.

4.Mr Yamaguchi returned garbage to neighbors, with loud rebukes.

5.Mr Yamaguchi rebuked a young child for not saying hello.

6.Mr Yamaguchi further rebuked (the same incident) members of the children’s committee, including one pregnant woman.

7.Mr Yamaguchi visited or telephoned neighborhood association board members at home, in order to rebuke them. He did this, sometimes, for several hours a day.

8.Mr Yamaguchi opposed board members of the agricultural committee, although he himself had no right or interest in its doings.

9.Mr Yamaguchi had tossed many bicycles into a deep ravine in Nishimine. He justified his doing so to the police, on the ground that the bicycles were illegally parked.

10.Mr Yamaguchi’s behavior was threatening a community collapse.

Therefore, it was concluded, city officials must ask Mr Yamaguchi’s son to take custody of him, and force Mr Yamaguchi to come and live with him. Nishimine’s troubles can be attributed to Fukuyama City and Buraku A. City Hall staff approved certain of Yamaguchi’s aggressive demands, thereby encouraging more of them. And residents of Buraku A tolerated Yamaguchi’s actions - also, thereby, encouraging the man. Therefore, City Hall and Buraku A should have accepted some responsibility for the Yamaguchi reality. They did not. Rather, the city, and Buraku A, and Tanabe and company, treated Yamaguchi as a deviant.

But Yamaguchi strove to uphold and protect the social agreement. He wanted to adhere to it - and not to deviate from it. Take the Nishimine garbage-separation plan. This plan was agreed on by the citizenry and the local government. Now a deviant would be one who wished to deviate from this plan. Yamaguchi opposed such deviants. He defended the garbage code. Yamaguchi was a conservative guardian of the social convention. While he may be criticized on other grounds, it is impossible to refer to him as a deviant.

But Yamaguchi strove to uphold and protect the social agreement. He wanted to adhere to it - and not to deviate from it. Take the Nishimine garbage-separation plan. This plan was agreed on by the citizenry and the local government. Now a deviant would be one who wished to deviate from this plan. Yamaguchi opposed such deviants. He defended the garbage code. Yamaguchi was a conservative guardian of the social convention. While he may be criticized on other grounds, it is impossible to refer to him as a deviant.

Takayama asserted that nobody had the authority to demand Yamaguchi’s son to take custody of him. The attendees already knew this. There had already been an inconclusive public argument on the procedures for the designation of insanity. This had been a meaningful discussion for Tanabe and company.

Michel Foucault observed that the phenomenon of mass hysteria is always found in places where the strongest forces of compulsion exist; and where there are the strongest forces on individuals, there will be the most cases of madness. [Foucault 1984b: 233] Working off of this analysis, it seems that where the labels of burakumin and deviancy are compelled to go together, it may be possible to observe the construction of actions designated as deviant.

Concurrent with the Yamaguchi case, there was another, arguably more serious, case of true social deviance going on in Nishimine and environs - the case of a certain known thief. She was an elderly woman, and non-burakumin. She was infamous in Nishimine, and in Higashimine, for entering neighbors’ homes and stealing money. Why, demanded Ryouichi Takayama, was this woman not the subject of this intervention meeting? Why was Mr Yamaguchi the only issue?

But the meeting organizers had already decided that Yamaguchi, that Outsider from Buraku A, was the sociopath that needed to be dealt with (from the ten complaints against him outlined, above.) The meeting had no official concern with the woman thief. For, after all, such Insider transgressors can be handled unofficially and discreetly. The real crisis threatening the community was the external crisis, the “Other.” Against him, and him only, Tanabe and his gang needed to herd the public consciousness. For he, and he only, was regarded as a force of destabilization. Michel Foucault analyzed the relation between the mad and men of reason like the following. “The mad were accorded the regal status of minors to pretest them as subjects before law; but when this ancient structure become a form os consciousness, it meant that they were entirely controlled, as psychological subject, by men of reason i.e, both domination and destination.” [Foucault 1972:499]

Tanabe and his group not only alienated Yamaguchi as a mental patient; they also made residents of Buraku A to regard Yamaguchi as an “Other.” Conventional ethics categorizes human actions into a good-bad dichotomy. For the residents of Buraku A, exposing and excluding the Evil among them were necessary steps to relief and stability. Exposing Yamaguchi’s evil (or Yamaguchi as Evil), Tanabe et al. evidenced anew the chasm that lies between buraku and non-buraku.

By habitually talking about buraku, residents of Nishimine came to demand the exclusion of an individual (Yamaguchi) from Buraku A. BLM-style institutional strictures against discriminatory talk have been perceived as decreasing or lessening - the result of a perceived decrease, or lessening, of overt discriminatory talk. The reality, however, is not so simple. In their habitual talk about the buraku among themselves, the residents of Nishimine are repeating, redefining, and re-creating differences. They continually talk about buraku, as against non-buraku, and take hostage whom they will, for the sake of relief and stability. This repetitive vocalization of differences is like an etcher’s awl, stroke by stroke clarifying the image of the “Other.” This is cultural essentialism, classically defined. [Young, 1999: 107-110.] It is a phenomenon of an epoch in which communities and human relationships are swaying and breaking down.

Residents of Buraku A and Nishimine have been sharing their community for a long time. As Tanabe admits, both groups have enjoyed benefits from dowa measures. And yet, between these groups, there is a constant, insurmountable, essential difference. Recently, Mr Yamaguchi was made to stand alone in Buraku A, both as a monster apart from both groups, but also as a representative monster that could only have emerged from the buraku group.

As N. Elias wrote, “The Burakumin minority in Japan come from the same stock as the majority of the Japanese,” and “these groups [burakumin] were probably subjected to some form of hereditary segregation.” [Elias 1965: 24] Similarly, in this late modernity, the majority pressures the minority as “Other” to produce from within itself a new minority-of-the-minority segregated sub-group: “Another.” During the session under examination, Tanabe and his fellows persuaded Takayama to recognize a monstrous “Another” lurking within Takayama’s “Other” community. Residents of Buraku A, for the well-being of Nishimine, were stepped back from the general community. Ethical agreements between both communities were lost sight of, as “Another” emerged from the “Other.” It is possible to designate this phenomenon as a double alienation; or, perhaps, alienation squared. Appropriate terminology should be found for it, as it is a part of recent buraku discrimination.

6. Conclusion and Agenda

This paper has sought to analyze the transformation of buraku discrimination in and around one small buraku located in a precarious rural community. Emphasis has been on the qualitative transformation, not the quantity or severity of the discrimination.

The Nishimine Neighborhood Association and Buraku A created a new “Another” from the “Other” of the buraku. As this creation was taking place, the accepted scientific discourse of buraku discrimination played a major causative role. This discourse raised aggression between the community of Buraku A and the general public around it. Residents of Buraku A became more than before socially alienated from Nishimine. Both communities regarded the emergence of “Another” from the “Other.” Additionally, the district forced burakumin to accept this newly-created “Another” within Buraku A, and to take responsibility for it.

In this qualitative transformation of buraku discrimination, it may be observed how cultural essentialism carves up people groups into “Us” and “You” sub-groups. Neoliberalism does not break down borders. It rather builds them, and enforces them, and stokes people’s anxieties of what lies beyond them. Unfortunately, it is not within the scope of this paper to suggest an argument for resolution. That will be the subject of the paper which is to follow. The present paper is, strictly, a small-sample field exercise within buraku studies.


1.In this paper, “general community” is used fundamentally, as in the theory of Kyoutou-shakai (郷党社会), put forward by Shozo Fujita. Kyou is a rural village, and tou is a group of persons held together by family bonds. It is the base of the pyramid of Japanese national organization. The kyoutou-shakai is essential to the maintenance of the nation, and it applies to its members the tools of governance. Although relatively seldom, kyoutou-shakai residents do sometimes practice formal ostracism, as a spontaneous sanction against deviants. Frequently, as during elections, the organized residents undertake political actions. Consequently, Japan’s rural communities have never quite fully enjoyed modern universalist functions such as democracy.

2.Some landowners pay maintenance fees to tenant farmers. In short, the “entruster” pays fees to the entrusted. Data on incomes and taxes belong to private information, and thus it is difficult to quantify.

3.Heretofore, buraku studies have tended to insist that burakumin do not, for whatever reason, join commonage associations. This is flat wrong. Some buraku and burakumin do participate in commonage associations. Buraku A is a case in point.

4.The taxpayers’ union is an association based on the Association Act of Tax Payment and Saving Act (April 10th, 1951, the 154th Act) that encourages nationals to save money in preparation of payment of taxes. This act facilitated tax collection. The taxpayers’ union receives a bonus, the amount of which depends on the amount of tax collected. Recently, as the unauthorized use of these bonuses has been exposed, the abolition of this Act has been called for. More calls for its abolition come out of concern for the protection of private information.
  Japan’s neighborhood associations were forbidden, following the country’s defeat in World War Two, by Cabinet Order “Cabinet Order Concerning the Dissolution, Excusing or Prohibition Against Organizations, Offices, and Other Matters Relating to Chonaikai, Burakukai or Federation Thereof and Other Promulgated May 3, 1947 Cabinet order NO. 15”. They were allowed again under the terms of the Treaty of San Francisco, 1951.


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