[lg policy] Japan: Korean Schools to Be Excluded from a Policy for All

Harold Schiffman hfsclpp at GMAIL.COM
Sat Mar 27 15:00:11 UTC 2010

Korean Schools to Be Excluded from a Policy for All
Report from Japan

by Yujiro Tsuneno / March 26th, 2010

Last summer, there was a change of government here in Japan, from the
Liberal Democratic Party to the Democratic Party. From the leftist
perspective, it is difficult to see any substantial difference between
the two, aside from the extra word in the name of the former, but the
new administration does employ some new rhetoric. A keyword here is
fraternity (the gender insensitivity is one of the things that have
not changed).

The fraternal spirit is decorated with some modest socialist policies.
One of them is to make high school education “free of tuition.” If
things go as planned, there will be no tuition for all public schools,
starting April; all private schools, international schools included,
will receive government subsidies so that they will be a little more
affordable. I just used “all” twice, because that is what the
government and the ruling parties had been telling us until very
recently. Then some weeks ago, Hiroshi Nakai, a cabinet member, showed
up out of nowhere and opened his mouth. He wants to exclude Korean
schools as part of the economic sanctions against North Korea.

Thank God we have Yukio Hatoyama, who who believes in fraternity, in
power now. One would expect him not to listen to such racist nonsense
and go ahead with the plan, the plan for all. As it turns out,
however, the prime minister is also inclined to make an exception to

The politicians have been trying hard to come up with justifications
so that the exclusion may appear to be the result of an application of
some general principle, not of discrimination. Japan has no diplomatic
relations with North Korea (but neither does Japan with Taiwan, and
yet the schools affiliated with that country are not excluded); the
government has no means to verify that Koreans schools meet high
school standards (but they publish their curriculum on the Internet
and some of the students are accepted by prestigious universities
around the country after graduation). The list goes on like the
borrowed kettle joke, but as kscykscy points out on his blog, it is
clear that the government is targeting Korean schools; the racist
motive is all the more conspicuous because of the comedic efforts to
invent excuses.

An international reader might wonder why there are Korean schools in
Japan. There is an historical context. In the nineteenth century,
Japan started aggression against Korea and annexed it in the early
twentieth century. Under colonial rule, a lot of Koreans were taken to
Japan for forced labor. Others had to migrate there because of the
economic mess created by the invaders. In 1945, the Empire of Japan
was defeated, and Koreans were liberated. Then the Cold War broke out,
which was so hot on the Korean Peninsula between 1950 and 1953 that
some chose to flee. As a result, there are hundreds of thousands of
permanent residents of the Korean origin in Japan, most of whom are
second, third, forth, and fifth generations. Since the defeat of the
Empire failed to amount to a significant break with the past, Japan
still is a racist society, hostile to non-Japanese residents.

On the other hand, as early as just after the liberation, some Koreans
decided to set up their own schools, teaching their own children their
own culture in their own language. From the very beginning, their
efforts were met with the government suppression: thousands were
arrested, a young protester killed, the schools closed down. And yet
they chose not to give up. Korean schools do still survive in this
racist nation, a testament to their struggles. Ordinary public schools
not only fail to provide a proper modern history education but even
force their students, Japanese or otherwise, to sing “Kimigayo,” the
national anthem, a prayer for the eternal reign of the Emperor, in
ceremonies. Just to remind you, the former Emperor Hirohito, is a
Japanese equivalent of Adolf Hitler, and the Japanese went to war in
his name, committing crimes against humanity around the Asia-Pacific
region. Japan took Korean’s land and tried to turn the people into
second-class Japanese, attempting to deprive them of their language.
The exclusion of Korean schools from the new policy is a continuation
of this colonialism; as all the other schools are included, it will
function as a financial weapon, pressuring Korean parents to send
their kids to Japanese schools. Before, the Japanese used guns; now we
use economic blackmail for the same purpose.

In his policy address earlier this year, Hatoyama said he wants to
“protect life” and argued “we must guarantee all children ways of life
in which each and everyone of them can drink healthy water and enjoy
basic education free from discrimination and prejudice with their
human rights protected.” Well said. In light of the recent events,
however, Myungsoo Kim suggests a revision to his statement: Hatoyama
should have said, “I want to protect life, except that of Koreans.”

A lot of permanent residents of Korean origin in Japan — along with
some Japanese and other foreign residents — are outraged. Korean
students and alumni are collecting signatures, handing out leaflets,
holding meetings, and expressing their opinions on the street, calling
against discrimination. The head of the Japan Federation of Bar
Associations issued a statement, warning that the exclusion could be a
breach of the Constitution and a number of international conventions
ratified by the government. This is about human rights, and human
rights do not amount to anything if an exception is tolerated.

Speaking of an exception, a right-wing extremist group attacked a
Korean elementary school in Kyoto in December last year, destroying
its properties and shouting racist chants. The police were called but
did little to stop them. No arrest has been reported since, although
it would be easy to identify the perpetrators as they uploaded a video
of the event on YouTube. The discrimination against Korean schools by
the government hints that these extremists are not so extreme; after
all, they are not an exception but are representative of a segment of
Japanese society.

I hope the international community will take interest in this issue
and start to participate in the calls against the exclusion of Korean
schools. Write letters of protest to Hatoyama; also write letters of
solidarity to Korean high school students, who against all odds are
standing up for their rights.

N.b.: Listing on the lgpolicy-list is merely intended as a service to
its members
and implies neither approval, confirmation nor agreement by the owner
or sponsor of the list as to the veracity of a message's contents.
Members who disagree with a message are encouraged to post a rebuttal.
(H. Schiffman, Moderator)

For more information about the lgpolicy-list, go to

This message came to you by way of the lgpolicy-list mailing list
lgpolicy-list at groups.sas.upenn.edu
To manage your subscription unsubscribe, or arrange digest format: https://groups.sas.upenn.edu/mailman/listinfo/lgpolicy-list

More information about the Lgpolicy-list mailing list