Representatives from 20 Japanese churches, including the Nippon Sei Ko Kai (NSKK – the Anglican Episcopal Church in Japan), have called on the Japanese government to “eliminate racial discrimination” in the country, come to terms with it’s colonial past, and to introduce laws to “outlaw hate speech and other forms of discrimination.” They make the call with a confession that, in the past, the churches “stood aside and watched as minorities suffered under the violence of hate speech.”
The demands were made in a communiqué issued after the 3rd International Conference on Minority Issues and Mission held at the end of November at the Korean YMCA in Tokyo.
The Anglican Church of Korea was one of 20 overseas partner churches and organizations who also took part in the conference.
“We believe that hosting this conference is one of the constructive ways for our church to respond to the call for mission given to us by God,” the Revd Kim Byungho, general secretary of the Korean Christian Church in Japan (KCJJ), which hosted the conference, said. “Many conflicts in today’s world stem from the discriminative policies and actions toward minorities, and specifically in Japan there is growing concern around the increasing militarization of Japan which has yet to fully acknowledge its past crimes and make necessary actions to amend the wounds.
“We hope this conference will provide an opportunity for the churches in Japan and the world to share our common concerns and build bridges of solidarity so that minority communities in Japan can fully realize and enjoy the fullness of life as citizens with equal rights, and it is the desire of the KCCJ to contribute to this ultimate goal.”
The KCCJ organised the conference because of “the alarming rise of hate speech against the Korean ethnic community in Japan” at a time when “discriminatory hate crimes against ethnic and racial minorities are on the rise in different parts of the world.”
“It is clear that historical revisionism that tries to obliterate historical awareness of Japan’s colonial rule, war and war responsibility, and of its victimizing past of violations against human dignity, serves to legitimize hate speech,” the churches say in their communiqué. “In order to root out hate speech and build a society in which human dignity and equality are realized, it is imperative that the state and society of Japan examine historical facts again, and establish a legal framework for the protection of human rights, beginning with a law to prohibit racial discrimination.”