日本基督教団 The United Church of Christ in Japan

Joint Buraku Liberation, Kanto District Caravan Held June-July 2011


The Buraku Liberation Center (BLC) and the Kyodan’s Kanto District jointly sponsored the Buraku Liberation, Kanto District Caravan 2011. Held between June 25 and July 4, the five members of the caravan, including the summer intern at the BLC, visited churches along the 1,177 km (729.74 mile) route in the five prefectures of the district, gave presentations calling for an end to buraku discrimination, and did field work along the way. A total of 1,373 people attended the events at 22 separate locations. Two of the caravan members gave the following reports on their meaningful experiences during that time.

Fieldwork Investigation at the Ashio Copper Mine

by Inukai Mitsuhiro

As the schedule included the “Ashio Seminar,” I was looking forward to once again studying about Tanaka Shozo, but the seminar turned out to be something very different. What I saw was the remains of the Ashio Copper Mine, the memorial stone commemorating the Korean and Chinese workers who had been forcibly taken there, and a barren mountain that remained in spite of concerted efforts over the years to replant a forest on it.

In the Chikuho District of Kyushu is located the famous Hyuga Cemetery, which contains the graves of Koreans forcibly brought to the area to work in the large Omine Coal Mine operated by the Furukawa Mining Company. The pictures of Chikuho, drawn by Yamamoto Sakubei, have been registered in the UNESCO World Documentary Heritage program, but I was surprised to learn that the application to make Ashio Copper Mine a World Heritage Site is being pursued from the standpoint of something that contributed to the modernization of Japan rather than as a “negative heritage.”

As our guide, Hirayama Masamichi (pastor of Yojomachi Church in Utsunomiya, Tochigi Prefecture) pointed to a naturally secluded valley surrounded by mountains on three sides and a river on the other, he said, “This is where there was a settlement of Koreans.” Now there are various campsites and seminar houses where lots of children and young people come to study. But I wonder what it is that they actually study.

Unless someone explains the true history of this place, it will—just like Chikuho—disappear into oblivion. It will also be like the nearby Toshogu Shrine area in Nikko, which we had also visited earlier. There, the ancient road leading up to the shrines is lined with cedar trees that have grown to giant size over the centuries. There is, however, a break in the line of trees on both sides of the highway. This is where it went by the area of the discriminated-against buraku. Of the tens of thousands of visitors that go up that road every year, I wonder how many of them even notice it.


by Koito Kensuke

On July 4, the last day of the Caravan, caravan members along with other interested persons, spent the morning visiting the buraku area in Sayama, where the biggest frame-up in the history of buraku discrimination occurred—the infamous “Sayama Incident.” As the result of the incessant pressure put on him by the police, along with their false promises, Ishikawa Kazuo consented to signing the trumped-up confession, in which the details of his alleged crime were written up. But as we followed the supposed route of the crime, looking at the details, it is very obvious that the story cooked up by the investigators is utterly impossible. Following the “confession,” as is, certainly drove that point home to me.
Unfortunately, the relevant points along the route have changed rather dramatically over the years, as roads were widened and paved and new buildings built, so that little remains of the situation as it was at the time of the incident almost 50 years ago. I could not help but think that those who want to hide the facts of this incident are more than happy to see these changes in the landscape.

In the midst of that, however, the headquarters of the effort to overturn the Sayama trial is in a small museum-like structure that is a re-creation of Ishikawa’s home at the time of the incident. There we met with Ishikawa himself to listen to what he had to say. He finished his talk with a Tanka poem that he had written, which roughly translates as: “The tears resulting from my sufferings, instead of drying up, have become a river. Riding on that torrent, let’s break down the walls of the court.” As I listened to that poem, I could only long for the day when he would finally get his day in court to prove his innocence.

In the afternoon, we all went to nearby Sayama Church for the final worship service concluding the “Buraku Liberation, Kanto District Caravan 2011.” All five caravan members gave reports on their experiences and shared various pictures, along with some songs. Ishikawa Kazuo gave another talk after that, and we all listened intently to his appeal.

Ishikawa’s wife also talked to us about their ongoing fight, and we all felt anew the importance of continuing to support them in their struggle. It was a fitting ending to our caravan tour. (Tr. TB)

From Kyodan Shinpo (Kyodan Times)


「部落解放 関東教区キャラバン2011」を



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