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Nippon Sei Ko Kai calls on Japanese government to end racial discrimination

Nippon Sei Ko Kai calls on Japanese government to end racial discrimination

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.”

ENS:

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.”

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Leslie Marshall

--Being born in Japan is not qualification for Citizenship. It goes by blood, not birth (even if both parents, grandparents, and great grandparents were born in Japan!) This is what has created the prejudice agains all non-Japanese. Citizenship for natural born of Korean descent is near impossible (same for any other 'foreign' group).

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Marshall Scott

I think that is an important part of the context that most Americans don't have.

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Leslie Marshall

To be fair, nearly every country in the world is poisoned by the same affliction. My husband (non-American, non-white) has lived & worked in 9 different countries. He says USA has most open-door- to opportunity of all, even of his home country.

[edited]

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Richard Edward Helmer

Context is important here, and I commend it for consideration:

- Japanese nationalism has been on the rise in recent years, and, like nationalism in other countries (including our own), it tends to be xenophobic and is marked by hate speech and bigotry.

- Christians comprise less than 1% of the population (Anglicans a mere fraction of that), and, historically, they have taken peaceful stands in opposition to the more violent tendencies of the broader society, including xenophobia and unchecked nationalism.

I think it a profound mistake to conflate the prophetic voice of some of our sisters and brothers with co-opting Caesar.

Bottom line: look where the power resides.

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Paul Powers

This article from the Asahi Shimbun ( major Japanese newspaper) gives some insight into the issue of hate speech in Japan.

http://ajw.asahi.com/article/behind_news/social_affairs/AJ201305100069

Article 4 of the International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination (which is referenced in the article) states:

"Article 4

"States Parties condemn all propaganda and all organizations which are based on ideas or theories of superiority of one race or group of persons of one colour or ethnic origin, or which attempt to justify or promote racial hatred and discrimination in any form, and undertake to adopt immediate and positive measures designed to eradicate all incitement to, or acts of, such discrimination and, to this end, with due regard to the principles embodied in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the rights expressly set forth in article 5 of this Convention, inter alia:

"(a) Shall declare an offence punishable by law all dissemination of ideas based on racial superiority or hatred, incitement to racial discrimination, as well as all acts of violence or incitement to such acts against any race or group of persons of another colour or ethnic origin, and also the provision of any assistance to racist activities, including the financing thereof;

"(b) Shall declare illegal and prohibit organizations, and also organized and all other propaganda activities, which promote and incite racial discrimination, and shall recognize participation in such organizations or activities as an offence punishable by law;

"(c) Shall not permit public authorities or public institutions, national or local, to promote or incite racial discrimination."

http://www.ohchr.org/EN/ProfessionalInterest/Pages/CERD.aspx

The upshot of the Asahi Shimbun article, as I see it, is that the Japanese Government has not recognized that there is a problem. The Nippon Sei Ko Kai, along with other Christian denominations is trying to change that.

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David Allen

Seems to be a convention that the US particularly, and some European nations, could not be party to.

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Paul Powers

Enforcing hate speech prohibitions without trampling on freedom of expression or religion does present a dilemma.

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David Allen

It appears that there is something in all three sections which you site which would inhibit freedom of speech. Also, freedom of religion.

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Paul Powers

And yet, the US is, and all European countries are.

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Jos. S. Laughon

Well it seems now my comments are being moderated so I have some doubts if it will get approved.

David,

I have read it and it remains one of my favorite political essays. I was responding to Mr. Ryle's contention that I would be one of the white men who shamed Dr. King. That comment is extremely disrespectful and frankly uncalled for.

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Jos. S. Laughon

Ann,

It seems I have confused Mr. Fisher's name with "Ryle" due to the similarity to Bishop Ryle.

Either way, thank you for informing me of that.

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Ann Fontaine

All new commenters are moderated.

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Anand Gnanadesikan

Seems to me that without knowing exactly what constitutes "hate speech" in this context and most particularly *to whom it applies*, it is hard for us to make a call.

For example, the US federal code of judicial conduct says " A judge should not hold membership in any organization that practices invidious discrimination on the basis of race, sex, religion, or national origin." At some level that's a violation of the First Amendment right of freedom of association, but it is justified on the basis that judges must be seen to be impartial. If the Anglican Church in Korea were saying that similar laws or codes of conduct needed to apply to government officials, (given the Trump-like attitudes that have sometimes been expressed by Japanese politicans) then they may very well have a point.

On the other hand, generalized hate speech laws (or for example campus speech codes) are more problematic for a number of reasons. First, they tend to stigmatize lower class discrimination, but leave the often more problematic upper class discrimination untouched. Using racial slurs- bad! Redlining a neighborhood- just the cost of business! Second, they can often be used against the people they are supposedly designed to protect. In the US, for example, African-Americans are charged with more "crimes against society" than whites- which suggests to me the use of hate crime law to reinforce social control.

Modern liberals often have a touching faith that we can solve problems by banning impoliteness. And in some circles that can actually work-making discriminatory attitudes seem "lower class" has had some good effects. But when it comes to facing down entrenched injustice, sometimes it's not enough.

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