Through the Eyes of Liberty Osaka: Presenting Minority Rights in Japan Open Access

Chen, Samantha (2016)

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This project covers the museum Liberty Osaka and its presentation of minority issues through handouts, which I use to analyze how Liberty Osaka views these issues, as well as how this comes across to readers. My primary argument is that there is a gap between Liberty Osaka's goals in promoting human rights, and how their reality shows a strong will to create change, but weakness within Japan in implementing such policies. I use this museum as a lens through which to analyze these topics because their perspective as a supporter of human rights, as well as their position as a legitimate source of knowledge on human rights, allows for a not entirely unbiased, but a more objective view of these issues, instead of telling these issues through the perspective of the minorities or from the perspective of the nationalists. This thesis covers the Japanese colonial era before World War II to the present day. I trace these events and their impacts on the colonies of Japan, who have become the minorities living within Japan today. The Resident Koreans, a product of colonialism; the Ryukyuans, who became Okinawans with their country's annexation; and the Ainu, who lost their homeland when Japan began expanding its territories to secure its northern and southern borders. The last group are unaffected by this colonialism, but are a remnant of the feudal era in Japan - the Burakumin are the earliest group to suffer discrimination due to certain characteristics deeming them social outcasts. I define discrimination as any act that either isolates a group or places one group above all others, and in which notions of equality are rejected. From this definition, equal treatment is an important point, because as a Westernized, democratic country, the troubles facing minorities are issues that should be able to be resolved. However, Japan has not been able to adequately make peace with the issues raised by their colonial policies, and the aftereffects are still being felt - these minorities suffer discrimination in various ways, and each of these cases reveal more about the societal intolerance within Japan today.

Table of Contents

Introduction. 1

Chapter 1: Resident Koreans. 17

Chapter 2: Okinawans. 34

Chapter 3: Ainu. 51

Chapter 4: Burakumin. 69

Conclusion. 85

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