On May 15th of 2019, television announcer Hasegawa Yutaka made a discriminatory remark at a political meeting, and then uploaded it to YouTube. The remark: Japan had a bit of bad history in the Edo period. There were persons of subhuman existence. These were the eta-hinin, statuses set under the Bushi: farmers, artisans, and merchants (Shi-nou-kou-shou). Despite being subhuman, they had strong sex drives. They might rape women. How did bushi defend their wives and daughters? They made one custom: “Walk three feet behind men." The eta-hinin, as professional criminals, wielded swords. A three-foot distance deemed safe enough. This order to the women proceeded from love.
Hasegawa's comments are ridiculous. Firstly, there is no such historical saying, “Walk three feet behind men." “Walking with your teacher, you have to be three feet behind him not to step on his shadow" is a saying, but it is based in Chinese Buddhism. Secondly, bushi wives and daughters did not walk with their husbands and fathers. Even inside the house, they could not share tables. Women lived in segregation. Thirdly, the Edo status system was not “Shi-nou-kou-shou-eta and hinin". There was a system of Bushi and chounin (citizens); another status system including the eta and hinin existed within a particular criminal law system. Fourthly, the eta and hinin were not in one category. Frequently, they conflicted in courts for their interests. Fifthly, they were not criminals or from criminal communities. Despite being of a lower stratum, they organized to make a secure society. They were for clapping down on criminals.
Hasegawa's statements were made in the context that contemporary Buraku originate from the Edo-period eta and hinin system, and that Buraku have criminal connections. This is the sixth and greatest misunderstanding. Today's Buraku is a construction of modern society, with no relationship to the Edo period. In addition, there is no evidence that Buraku were ever criminal communities. Around 1980, a pair of journalists insisted, without any evidence, that yakuza members originated disproportionately in Buraku. In 1981, David E. Kaplan and Alice Dubro wrote that “police believe that in the Yamaguchi-gumi, for example, burakumin comprise some 70 percent of the membership". The two journalists, however, never showed the reason for their assertion. Theirs was a simple baseless discourse. As I have already revealed, Buraku in fact have a lower rate of criminality than average.
Hasegawa excused himself. He said he was only stating facts, and he himself never discriminated against Burakumin. But his statement was bereft of fact. Since the Meiji period, Burakumin have received just such baseless discrimination. By repeating this nonsense, Hasegawa committed enough discrimination.
Hasegawa had plans to run in the Upper House election in the summer of 2019. His party disavowed him, feeling that he invoked mistrust among the citizens. So the country is spared, for now. Hasegawa, however, has not abandoned his ambitions.
Hasegawa's mouth has gotten him in trouble before. He once opined that the government should withhold care from dialysis patients. Their illness, he said, was their own private interest. It may be said that Hasegawa is an equal-opportunity discriminator who will talk foul of anybody.