World newspapers provide extensive coverage about Iran’s nuclear development or its relations with Israel, but it is unusual for the media to focus on the plight of members of the Bahai faith in Iran who are probably the most persecuted group in that nation. Two months ago, seven members of the faith were arrested including Jinous Sobhani who works with human rights groups that were founded by Nobel Prize winner Airin Ebadi. The Iranian government charges that Bahais were in the pay of Israeli secret agents and were plotting to overthrow the Iranian government. The Japanese government has joined the European Union, the UN and other nations in protesting the trials of Bahai members as so-called agents of Israel. The Bahai faith was founded in Persia in 1844 and now has about five million members in the world.
Iranian Bahais suffer constant persecution in virtually every aspect of society ranging from education to work to leisure so it would be madness for any member of the faith to work with Israel. This is a trumped up charge to discredit decent people who seek peace and an end to hatred in the world. Most probably, it is those beliefs which are the source of the arrests.
Prime Minister Taro Aso indicated he seeks to establish solid working relationships with the new Obama adminsitration, but he will have problems in achieving that goal. The Japanese prime minister had close working connections with Bush and is unclear as to whether Obama’s policies in Asia will be in line with his goals. Obama needs to focus on rebuilding the American economy, and Japan has enough of its own financial crisis to be of much assistance. Japan is still very much concerned about the kidnapping by North Korea of its citizens, but there is little likelihood this will be of much concern to the Obama administration. Obama wants to end North Korean nuclear programs and will undoubtedly make that his priority, which means he will regard lesser issues of no importance and will avoid dealing with them if they hamper achieving the goal of ending nuclear weapons in North Korea.
The Japanese government has displayed an inept approach to many issues such as the manner in which the history of WWII is taught in its schools which has resulted in anger by Chinese and Korean officials. It is time for Japan to confront issues of the past, put them to rest, and move ahead to focus on contemporary issues. Aso’s buddy, George Bush is history, so begin making history with Obama
Posted in Asia, Barack Obama, Japan, Links, Military, Multicultural, Peace, Politics, Republicans, US Foreign Policy, War, World News
Tagged Aso, Japan, North Korea, nuclear
Many Japanese people are sharing the world wide interest in an African American becoming president of the United States, but few ever pause to think about their own nation’s abuse of people who are from buraku backgrounds. A buraku is the term used to describe an area where many people have ancestral ties to the people who were placed at the bottom of feudal society in the Edo period where they carried out low level tasks considered “tainted” according to Buddhist and Shinto beliefs. Many were engaged in butchery and leather work where the killing and use of animal corpses was involved. The estimate of the number of such people in modern Japan ranges from 1.2 million up to three million.
Few Japanese people will even use the expression and its use is considered a conversation stopper. Most large corporations have finally gotten around to hiring people from a buraku area but few smaller sized companies will hire such people. It is commonly assumed people of this background are linked to organized crime. A recent incident in which a leader of the Buraku Liberation League was found to be connected to crime lords reinforced beliefs in their criminality. As a result of this story, Osaka Governor Toru Hashimoto cut all government assistance to buraku areas.
There is not government legislation to deal with discrimination based on one’s origin in Japanese society nor does Japan have a vibrant multicultural education which would raise such topics with students in school. It is believed silence and not seeing are the best solutions to dealing with hate and discrimination.
There are a significant number of prominent people in Japan who have been attempting for years to sell their nation a version of World War II that few, if any, historians outside of Japan would accept as having any relation to the reality of what happened in the war. Organizers of a controversial essay contest supported former General Toshio Tamagami, who was fired, for insisting in an essay that Japan was a victim and the cause of the war was the United States. According to this version, the United States tricked Japan into attacking Pearl Harbor. However, this version ignores that in 1936, five years prior to Pearl Harbor, Japan invaded China and killed over four million people. Tamagami claims Asian nations welcomed the Japanese taking over their nation. Of course, the revolt against Japanese occupation was led by native Vietnamese, many of whom later became the communist leaders of Vietnam.
It is time for Japanese educators to follow the example of Germany and come to grips with their brutality during WWII. The thousands of Korean women did not welcome Japanese conquerors, the Koreans who were subjected to medical experiments by criminal Japanese doctors did not welcome the Japanese conquerors. The brutality of Japanese behavior in WWII must be confronted in Japanese schools in order to help the nation find its soul.