The Fukushima District and Hate Crimes

A district of Fukushima, in the west of Hiroshima city, consists of four towns: M-cho, O-cho, MY-machi, and F-cho. Hiroshima citizens call these towns, collectively as one district, Fukushima. It is a large area with a high population. At its peak it had more than 6,000 residents. Fukushima is synonymous with Buraku in Hiroshima city. Recently, its population is decreasing. It now counts about 4,500. The reason for the population decrease will be explained later.

Some Hiroshima citizens consider Fukushima to be the most dangerous part of the city. Opinions posted on social networking sites (SNS) are very revealing of people’s thinking. Some of these SNS in Japan are a paradise for racists and segregationists. Perhaps this is the same in other countries. Users enjoy the sufferings of others. It is easy to find hate crimes against Koreans, Chinese, Jews, Muslims, and foreigners generally. Hatred is also directed against Japanese nationals, especially at Burakumin, who are perfectly Japanese. Every social science admits this. Burakumin are a social construction of the late modern area. Please read the following three posts from social networking sites.

Even if Fukushima-cho and Miyako-machi have places with good food, the general Hiroshima citizens never step into there. Because there is a slaughterhouse, they know how dangerous those towns are. Hiroshima City has other dangerous districts, such as the Motomachi apartments district and Wakakusa-cho, but Fukushima-cho and Miyako-machi are the most dangerous by far.

I had to visit Fukushima-cho on business about 2 decades ago, I asked a taxi driver to take me there. When we arrived in front of Nishi-ward office, he told me, "I’m so sorry. From here, I would like you to get there by yourself, please, sir" That is my expression about Fukushima-cho.

The slaughterhouse of Fukushima-cho is within a patch of concession hunters, who are Burakumin, and the commoner not only cannot work there, but also is not even allowed to enter.

Probably, persons who have never visited Fukushima posted those opinions, and they do not know the reality of Hiroshima city. The first person wrote about a slaughterhouse, but it is no longer there. It left more than a quarter of a century ago, long before the post. The Motomachi apartment district, a post-disaster housing area after the atomic bombing, is becoming a huge district for elderly housing. Some of the aged residents may be in crises, but they pose no danger to anyone who visits there. Wakakusa-cho is on the north side of the JR Hiroshima Station. Compared to the south side, the north side is less developed. With lighter traffic, a large police koban, commercial architecture, and other amenities, the north side is more comfortable to live than the south side. Neither the Motomachi apartment district nor Wakakusa-cho has any problem of social violence. Speaking of Fukushima, there is no deference comparative those two area. Therefore, it is not understandable to compare those to other districts. Finally, there is the question whether Fukushima has good food. This is a purely subjective matter.

The second post opinion is too simple a lie. The Nishi-ward office is within Fukushima, and two taxi companies have their offices in this district.

The third is also easy to expose. As above, no slaughterhouse exists in Fukushima. Originally, the organization that managed slaughterhouses was a public agency, not a private institute. It never belonged to the district of Fukushima or its residents. The investors were/are non-Burakumin. The Burakumin who got jobs in the butchering industry were only 0.11% of the Fukushima population.

In this writer’s experience, Fukushima residents are kind and gentle. The growth rate of the population was 1.5 times the whole city because it was accepting of outsiders. Why could Burakumin in Fukushima not become managers and entrepreneurs? Because they were poor, and engaged in physical work and various random tasks, and lacked capital. Some residents were landowners. However,the average price of land in Fukushima was only a quarter of the city average. Agricultural land prices were even lower. Therefore there was little ability to use land as collateral even if anyone did want to start up a business. Discrimination against Fukushima depressed land prices, and the value of labor. This was one of the reasons for the huge number of bottom-level workers. In spite of this, the crime rate in Fukushima was lower than the entire Hiroshima prefecture.

At the limits of the old town, Fukushima has two stops of the Hiroden tram line. These go directly to Hiroshima station, and to Itusukushima Shrine, on Miyajima Island. Fukushima has a general hospital and other healthcare facilities, a fire office, a large citizens’ center, a big post office, public and private nursery schools, two private academies, public schools, Nishi-ward office, and so on. Hiroshima Peace Memorial Park is nearby. Investments in redevelopment are growing, and land prices in the district are increasing, with rents. Some established are moving to nearby districts.

The three above examples of SNS postings are baseless. Additionally, hate is directed not only to Burakumin there, but to all people who move in. Some may wonder if these examples are atypical. This is a rational question. However it does not dispel the concern that hate and discrimination have a sad place in Hiroshima city.

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