AMPONTAN

Japan from the inside out

Dead to rights

Posted by ampontan on Wednesday, November 7, 2012

AN earlier post explained that Osaka Mayor Hashimoto Toru wanted to eliminate the city’s funding for the Osaka Human Rights Museum. He was able to achieve that objective not long ago. Here’s the report on his success from the Yonhap news agency of South Korea, put into English.

Right-wing Japanese politician and Osaka Mayor Hashimoto Toru said he will close down the Osaka Human Rights Museum, a comprehensive museum on human rights that includes displays on discrimination of Korean citizens born in Japan (zainichi).

According to the Kyodo news agency, Mayor Hashimoto, the head of the national Japan Restoration Party, announced his intention at a news conference to shut the museum and convert the facility into one providing education on modern history to young children.

Established in 1985, the museum has operated on admission fees, donations, and subsidies from the city of Osaka. The city will end the subsidies this year.

The Osaka Human Rights Museum has discrimination-related exhibits, primarily involving Japan, including those about the burakumin (Japan’s old “untouchable caste”). The comprehensive facility also has displays about discrimination against the zainichi.

Mayor Hashimoto’s view is that the museum could harm Japan’s image now that discrimination of this sort has been eliminated in the country, it is not desirable to continue supporting the museum with city funds, and that the museum has to be eliminated through a structural reorganization.

But residents who live near the museum, citizens’ groups, and people of conscience have objected, saying the decision is a reflection of Mayor Hashimoto’s right-wing views.

In regard to education in Japanese history, Mayor Hashimoto has said that “modern history is very weak”, which is “an evil resulting from having entrusted this education to the Ministry of Education.”

* Yes, this is what the South Korean news agency thinks is a straight news article. “Right wing”. “People of conscience”.

Then again, they’re in plenty of bad company with the Associated Press and Reuters.

* “Right-wingers” presumably aren’t interested in human rights and lack a conscience. That’s only a left-wing thing. Except they’ll self-identify as “moderates” instead.

Perhaps the Yonhappers actually believe this. Perhaps they’re using the functional definition of “right wing” as South Koreans apply it to the Japanese — those people unwilling to eternally prostrate themselves at their feet in obeisance to the Joseon history fun house mirror.

Or perhaps they’re using the functional defintion of “right wing” that most of the world’s mass media use: Society’s new untouchable caste.

* Yonhap couldn’t squeeze into its limited space the information that Mr. Hashimoto’s father’s family were probably burakumin, everyone in Japan knows it, and the people of Osaka voted for him anyway.

* The news agency does not disguise their real interest (apart from general Japan bashing): Advocacy of the zainichi, who, after all, intentionally choose to be foreigners in the country where they were born. Ein volk and all that.

* How hard can it be to report the truth? Today’s Japanese are tired of wearing the hair shirt before the world to atone for behavior they had nothing to do with. Too hard for Yonhap, evidently.

* There is nary a whisper of the fiscal crisis facing the national government and all local governments in Japan. The public sector can no longer afford luxury goods, especially those whose objective is to promote the professionally aggrieved who delight in the opportunity to show us how wonderful they are by showing us how terrible everyone else is and make some money while they’re at it.

Nor do they mention Mr. Hashimoto’s willingness to take on other interest groups and labor unions to bring some sanity to the city’s finances.

That said, a museum of modern history for children is also a luxury good. Mr. Hashimoto would be better off just cutting the funding and establishing his political identity through different means. He’s had no problem finding other ways to do that so far. It’s not his business if the museum is capable of surviving without government money.

* The museum still exists, as does its Japanese-language website. The first half of the top page is now occupied by an appeal for money. That appeal contains a passage worth translating:

“But our response to the complete elimination of the subsidies (asking for financial contributions) is not done in a negative sense. We hope to achieve self-sufficient operation by taking this opportunity to join with everyone to establish our financial autonomy and to devote even more strength to developing the museum in a positive way. In other words, our concept is to have a museum that is supported by people with an interest in human rights.”

By jingo, I think they’ve got it!

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3 Responses to “Dead to rights”

  1. Avery said

    “Yonhap couldn’t squeeze into its limited space the information that Mr. Hashimoto’s father’s family were probably burakumin, everyone in Japan knows it, and the people of Osaka voted for him anyway.”

    You can tell what kind of narrative is being created by what people leave out, as much as what they put in. Every book and article in English that discusses postwar burakumin movements without talking about the BLP-JCP split (that’s 90% of them) attests to this rule.

  2. Level3 said

    Liberty Osaka should put their appeal in English, so that the Japan-bashing Anglo blog-o-sphere who are so very angry about Hashimoto-Hitler 😉 shutting down a place they care so much about can “support” it better. Support meaning more English-language blogging and angry vibes against the one of the burakumin the museum is supposed to represent, rather than actually support it (with cash) or be happy that a burakumin conquered this discrimination and got elected governor and mayor. But the left has always had a special hatred for anyone who dares leave the plantation.

    Besdies, I can understand why they aren’t angry enough to pay attention to the Japanese language site, and don’t really feel a need to put their money where their blogs are, as the English version of the site doesn’t have any section on the terrible, terrible discrimination that Anglo-sphere eikaiwa teachers face in Japan making thrice the wages of Japanese who sell them their booze.

    Besides, even if Liberty wanted to, it’s not like there’s a record of achievements or successful campaigns they could write up an exhibit about anyway. And that’s saying something in a world where even a protest march that accomplishes zero change is a “success”.

  3. Tony said

    Level3,
    You’re about 20 years out of tune regarding Anglo-sphere eikaiwa teachers’ salaries but spot on regarding their whinging.

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