Koreans in Japan
|Holding Japanese nationality|
|Revised Romanization||Hangukgye Ilbonin
|Holding North Korean nationality|
|Revised Romanization||Jaeil Joseonin|
|Holding South Korean nationality|
|Revised Romanization||Jaeil Hangugin|
|Regardless of nationality (in Korea)|
|Revised Romanization||Jaeil Dongpo
|Regardless of nationality (in Japan)|
Koreans in Japan are the ethnic Korean residents of Japan. They currently constitute the second largest ethnic group in Japan. The majority of Koreans in Japan are Zainichi Koreans, also often known as Zainichi (在日) for short, who are the permanent ethnic Korean residents of Japan. The term "Zainichi Korean" refers only to long term Korean residents of Japan who trace their roots to the Korea under Japanese rule, distinguishing them from the later wave of Korean migrants who came mostly in the 1980s.
The Japanese word "Zainichi" itself means "staying in Japan", and implies temporary residence. Nevertheless, the term "Zainichi Korean" is used to describe settled permanent residents of Japan, both those who have retained either their Joseon (old, undivided Korea) or South Korean nationalities, and even sometimes includes Japanese citizens of Korean descent who acquired Japanese nationality by naturalization or by birth from one or both parents who have Japanese citizenship.
According to the statistics at Immigration Bureau of Japan, there were 565,989 Koreans in Japan in 2010. This figure does not include those who have adopted Japanese citizenship.
The 2005 figures are as follows:
- Those with permanent resident status (general and special categories): 515,570
- Naturalized Japanese citizens: 284,840
- Long-term visitors: 82,666
- Korean students in Japan: 18,208
- Total: 901,284
Modern Zainichi Koreans can trace their diaspora to the early 20th century under Imperial Japanese rule. In 1910, as the result of the Japan–Korea Annexation Treaty, all Korean people became subjects of the Empire of Japan. Koreans claimed that Japanese land and production confiscation initiatives against Korean farmers during the 1910s caused a wave of forced migrants during the 1920s, while Japanese claim that Japanese colonisation kick-started Korea's defunct feudal economy and that majority of immigration was due to voluntary immigration seeking better economic opportunities. During World War II, a large number of Koreans were also conscripted by Japan. Another wave of migration started after South Korea was devastated by the Korean War in the 1950s. Also noteworthy was the large number of refugees from the massacres on Jeju Island.
The statistics regarding Zainichi immigration are scarce. However, in 1988, a Mindan youth group called Zainihon Daikan Minkoku Seinendan (재일본대한민국청년회, 在日本大韓民国青年会) published a report entitled "Father, tell us about that day. Report to reclaim our history" (アボジ聞かせて あの日のことを—我々の歴史を取り戻す運動報告書) The report included a survey of first generation Koreans' reasons for immigration. The result was 13.3% for conscription, 39.6% for economics, 17.3% for marriage and family, 9.5% for study/academic, 20.2% for other reasons and 0.2% for unknown. The survey excluded those who were under 12 when they arrived in Japan.
 During World War II
In 1939, labor shortages due to World War II led to organised official recruitment of Koreans to work in mainland Japan, initially through civilian agents, and later directly, often involving elements of coercion or deception. In 1944, the Japanese authorities extended the mobilization of Japanese civilians for labor to the Korean peninsula. Of the 5,400,000 Koreans conscripted, about 670,000 were taken to mainland Japan (including Karafuto Prefecture (present-day Sakhalin, now part of Russia)) for civilian labor. Those who were brought to Japan were forced to work in factories, in mines and as laborers, often under appalling conditions. About 60,000 died between 1939 and 1945 from harsh treatment, inhumane working conditions and allied bombings. Most of the wartime laborers went home after the war, but some remained in Japan, while 43,000 of those in Karafuto, which had been occupied by the Soviet Union just prior to Japan's surrender, were refused repatriation to either mainland Japan or the Korean peninsula, and were thus trapped in Sakhalin, stateless; they became the ancestors of the Sakhalin Koreans.
 Loss of Japanese nationality
Immediately following the end of World War II, there were roughly 2.4 million Koreans in Japan; the majority repatriated to their ancestral homes in the southern half of the Korean peninsula, leaving only 650,000 in Japan by 1946.
Japan's defeat in the war and its loss of sovereignty over the Korean peninsula and Taiwan left the nationality status of Koreans and Taiwanese in an ambiguous position in terms of law. The Alien Registration Ordinance (外国人登録令, Gaikokujin-tōroku-rei) of 2 May 1947, ruled that Koreans and some Taiwanese were to be provisionally treated as foreign nationals. Given the lack of a functional nation on the Korean peninsula, Koreans were provisionally registered under the name of Joseon (Korean: 조선, Japanese: Chōsen, 朝鮮), the old name of undivided Korea.
In 1948, the northern and southern parts of Korea declared independence individually, making Joseon, or the old undivided Korea, a defunct nation. The new government of the Republic of Korea (South Korea) made a request to the Supreme Commander of the Allied Powers, then the occupying power of Japan, to change the nationality registration of Zainichi Koreans to Daehan Minguk (대한민국, 大韓民國; Japanese: Daikan Minkoku, 大韓民国), the official name of the new nation. Following this, from 1950 onwards, Zainichi Koreans were allowed to voluntarily re-register their nationality as such.
The Allied occupation of Japan ended on 28 April 1952 with the San Francisco Peace Treaty, in which Japan formally abandoned its territorial claim to the Korean peninsula, and as a result, Zainichi Koreans formally lost their Japanese nationality.
The division on the Korean peninsula led to division among Koreans in Japan. Mindan, or the Korean Residents Union in Japan, was set up in 1946 as a pro-South offshoot of Chōren (League of Koreans in Japan), the main Korean residents' organisation, which had a socialist ideology. Following the May Day riots of 1952, the pro-North organisation was made illegal, but it re-formed under various guises and went on to form the "General Association of Korean Residents in Japan", or Chongryon, in 1955. This organisation kept to its socialist, and by extension pro-North stance, and enjoyed the active financial support and advisement of the North Korean government.
 Division between Chongryon and Mindan
Out of the two Korean organizations in Japan, the pro-North Chongryon has been the more militant in terms of retaining Koreans' ethnic identity. Its policies included:
- Operation of about 60 ethnic Korean schools across Japan, initially partly funded by the North Korean government, in which lessons were conducted in Korean. They maintain a strong pro-North Korean ideology, which has sometimes come under criticism from pupils, parents, and the public alike.
- Discouraging its members from taking up Japanese citizenship.
- Discouraging its members from marrying Japanese.
- Chongryon-operated businesses and banks to provide the necessary jobs, services, and social networks for Zainichi Koreans outside mainstream society.
- Opposition to Zainichi Koreans' right to vote or participation in Japanese elections, which they saw as an unacceptable attempt at assimilation into Japanese society.
- A home-coming movement to North Korea in the late 1950s, which it hailed as a socialist "Paradise on Earth". Some 90,000 Zainichi Koreans and their Japanese spouses moved to the North before the migration eventually died down as the conditions which awaited them were more congruent with a rapidly developing nation (living standards were higher than in the South at that time), than a developed socialist nation.
Pro-North Zainichi who maintained their Joseon nationalities have been called "North Koreans in Japan" in English by writers such as Sonia Ryang. While this term is technically correct, it is somewhat misleading. Zainichi Chōsenjin, as they are called, in the vast majority of cases settled in Japan before the modern state of North Korea was instituted, and in most cases originate from the south of the Korean Peninsula. Their status as "North Koreans" is based almost entirely on their historical ideological loyalties.
Well into at least the 1970s, Chongryon was the dominant Zainichi group, and in some ways remains more politically significant today in Japan. However, the widening disparity between the political and economic conditions of the two Koreas has since made Mindan, the pro-South Korean group, the larger and certainly the less politically controversial faction. 65% of Zainichi are now said to be affiliated to Mindan. The number of pupils receiving ethnic education from Chongryon-affiliated schools has declined sharply, with many, if not most, Zainichi now opting to send their children to mainstream Japanese schools. Some Chongryon schools have been closed for lack of funding, and there is serious doubt as to the continuing viability of the system as a whole. (Mindan has also traditionally operated a school system for the children of its members, although it has been always been less widespread and organized compared to its Chongryon counterpart, and is said to be nearly defunct at the present time.)
Since the 1990s, there is a new group of Koreans from South Korea who reside in Japan. Their affiliated residence association is called the Association of South Korean Residents in Japan (재일본한국인연합회, 在日本韓國人聯合會).
 Repatriation to Korea
Repatriation of Zainichi Koreans from Japan conducted under the auspices of the Japanese Red Cross began to receive official support from the Japanese government as early as 1956; a North Korean-sponsored repatriation programme with support of the Chōsen Sōren (The General Association of Korean Residents in Japan) officially began in 1959. In April 1959, Gorō Terao (寺尾 五郎 Terao Gorō), a political activist of the Japanese Communist Party, published a book "North of the 38th parallel" (38度線の北), in which he idolized North Korea for its rapid development and humanitarianism; numbers of returnees skyrocketed. The Japanese government was in favour of repatriation not only as a way to reduce the number of welfare or other public assistance recipients in a time of economic difficulty, but also as a way to rid the country of ethnic minority residents regarded as incompatible with Japanese culture Though the United States government was initially unaware of Tokyo's cooperation with the repatriation programme, they offered no objection after they were informed of it; the US ambassador to Japan was quoted by his Australian counterpart as describing the Koreans in Japan as "a poor lot including many Communists and many criminals".
Despite the fact that 97% of the Zainichi Koreans originated from the southern half of the Korean peninsula, the North was initially a far more popular destination for repatriation than the South; however, as word came back of difficult conditions faced in the North, and with the 1965 normalization of Japan-South Korea relations, the popularity of repatriation to the North dropped sharply, though the trickle of returnees to the reclusive communist state continued as late as 1984. In total, 93,340 people migrated from Japan to North Korea under the repatriation programme; an estimated 6,000 were actually Japanese migrating with Korean spouses. Around one hundred such repatriates are believed to have later escaped from North Korea; the most famous is Kang Chol-Hwan, who published a book about his experience, The Aquariums of Pyongyang. Though repatriates in general faced social discrimination and political repression, with as many as 10,000 being imprisoned in concentration camps, some rose to positions of power in the North Korean government; one returnee who later defected back to Japan, known only by his Japanese pseudonym Kenki Aoyama, worked for North Korean intelligence as a spy in Beijing. The repatriations have been the subject of numerous creative works in Japan, due to the influence they had on the Zainichi Korean community; one documentary film about a family in which the sons repatriated while the parents and daughter remained in Japan, Dear Pyongyang, won a special jury prize at the 2006 Sundance Film Festival.
 Integration into Japanese society
Zainichi today have established a stable presence in Japan after years of activism. Through Mintohren, community support by Zainichi organizations (Mindan, Chongryon, among others), other minority groups (Ainu, Burakumin, Ryūkyūans, Uilta[dubious ], Nivkhs and others), and sympathetic Japanese, they have improved the social atmosphere for Zainichi in Japan. There are also Koreans living in Japan who try to present themselves as Japanese to prevent discrimination. Most younger Zainichi now speak only Japanese, go to Japanese schools, work for Japanese firms and increasingly now marry Japanese. Most naturalization occurs among the young during the period when they seek formal employment or marriage. Those who have already established their life often choose to retain their South Korean or Joseon nationality as part of their heritage.
One of the most pressing issue of Zainichi Community is the rate of assimilation of Zainichi into Japanese. About 9,000 to 11,000 Koreans naturalize in Japan every year out of slightly less than 600,000. One crucial aspect of naturalisation for Zainichi Korean is that both Mindan and Chongryon link Korean ethnic identity to Korean nationality (Japanese and South Korean nationality laws do not allow multiple citizenship for adults). By their definition, opting for a Japanese passport means becoming a Japanese, rather than a Korean Japanese. Though there are a few cases of celebrities who naturalize with their Korean name, the majority of them formally adopt a Japanese legal alias. This means that the rate of naturalisation can be taken as a rough measure of assimilation.
Tong-il Ilbo (통일일보) or Tōitsu Nippō (統一日報), a Korean Japanese newspaper, reported that according to statistics from the Japanese Health and Labour ministry, there were 8376 marriages between Japanese and Koreans. Compared to 1971 marriages in 1965, when the statistics begin, the number has roughly quadrupled and it now constitutes about 1% of the 730,971 total marriages in Japan. The highest number of marriages between Japanese men and Korean women was 8,940, in 1990. Since 1991, it has fluctuated around 6000. On the other hand, marriages between Korean men and Japanese woman were 2335 in 2006. It has been stable since the number reached 2000, in 1984.
In 1975, Hidenori Sakanaka (坂中 英徳 Sakanaka Hidenori), a bureaucrat in the Ministry of Justice, published a highly controversial document known as the "Sakanaka Paper". He stated that the assertion by both Mindan and Chongryon that Zainichi are destined to eventually return to Korea is no longer realistic. He further predicted that Zainichi would naturally disappear in the 21st century unless they abandon their link between Korean identity and Korean nationality. He argued that the Japanese government should stop treating Zainichi as temporary residents (with a special status) and start providing a proper legal framework for their permanent settlement as "Korean Japanese".
In December 1995, "Gendai Korea" (Modern Korea) published "20 years after the Sakanaka Paper" to assess further development. Sakanaka pointed out that in the 1980s, 50% of Zainichi Koreans married Japanese and in 90s, the rate was 80%. (In fact, he quoted only 15%-18% Korean marriage during 1990 to 1994.) He also pointed out the change in the law in 1985, which granted Japanese citizenship to a child with either parent being Japanese. (Previous laws granted citizenship only to a child with a Japanese father.) In practice, this would mean that less than 20% of Zainichi marriages would result in Zainichi status. As naturalisation is concentrated among the younger generation, the Zainichi population is expected to collapse once the older generation starts to die out in two decades.
The latest figure from Mindan shows that the total population of Zainichi is 598,219 in 2006 and 593,489 in 2007; only 8.9% married another Zainichi in 2006. There were 1,792 births and 4,588 deaths resulting in a 2796 natural decrease. On top of that, there were 8531 naturalisations, which resulted in a total decrease of 11,327 in 2006 (1.89%).
 Registration of residents
Japan used to take fingerprints as part of the registration process for foreign residents, a subject of much controversy, especially among resident Koreans, as many of them are born in Japan. After many years of campaigning, the requirement was abolished in 1992 for those with "Special Permanent Resident" status. In 1999, the Alien Registration Law was further amended to eliminate fingerprinting of foreign residents in general. Mindan expressed disappointment, as it did not eliminate the requirement that foreign residents carry their registration cards at all times, and Koreans protested in Tokyo alongside Thais, Filipinos and Brazilians dressed in traditional attire of their homelands.
 Right to vote and government employment
Long-term ethnic Korean residents of Japan who have not taken up Japanese nationality currently have the legal status of Tokubetsu Eijusha ("Special Permanent Residents") and are granted special rights and privileges compared to other foreigners, especially in matters such as re-entry and deportation statutes. These privileges were originally given to residents with South Korean nationality in 1965, and were extended in 1991 to cover those who have retained their Joseon nationality.
Over the decades, Zainichi Koreans have been campaigning to regain their Japanese citizenship rights without having to adopt Japanese nationality. The right to claim social welfare benefits was granted in 1954, followed by access to the national health insurance scheme (1960s) and state pensions (1980s). There is some doubt over the legality of some of these policies as the Public Assistance Law, which governs social welfare payments, is seen to apply to "Japanese nationals."
There have also been campaigns to allow Zainichi Koreans to take up government employment and participate in elections, which are open to Japanese nationals only. Since 1992, Mindan has been campaigning for the right to vote in elections for prefectural and municipal assemblies, mayors and prefecture governors, backed by the South Korean government. In 1997, Kawasaki became the first municipality to hire a Korean national. So far, three prefectures - Osaka, Nara and Kanagawa - have supported voting rights for permanent foreign residents.
However, the Japanese Diet has not yet passed a resolution regarding this matter despite several attempts by a section within Liberal Democratic Party of Japan to do so, and there is considerable public and political opposition against granting voting rights to those who have not yet adopted Japanese nationality. Instead, the requirements for naturalization has been steadily lowered for Zainichi to the point that only criminal records or affiliation to North Korea would be a hindrance for naturalisation. Both Zainichi organisations oppose this, as both organisations see naturalisation as de facto assimilation. In November 2011, the South Korean government moved to register Zainichi Koreans as voters in South Korean elections, a move which attracted few registrants. While Mindan-affiliated Zainichi Koreans presses for voting rights in Japan, they have very little interest in becoming a voting bloc in South Korean politics. Chongryon for its part opposes moves to allow Zainichi Koreans to participate in Japanese politics, on the grounds that it assimilates Koreans into Japanese society and thus weakens Korean ethnic identity.
 Korean schools
The pro-Pyongyang Chongryon operates 218 Korean schools (Korean: 조선학교/우리학교, Hanja: 朝鮮學校, Japanese: 朝鮮学校) across Japan, including kindergartens and one university. All lessons, and all conversations within the school are conducted in Korean. They teach a strong pro-North Korean ideology and allegiance to Kim Il-Sung and Kim Jong-Il. The textbooks includes an idolized depiction of an economic development of North Korea and Songun policy of Kim Jong-Il. They are not classified as regular schools under Japanese law as they do not follow the national curriculum, but rather as "miscellaneous schools" alongside driving schools. This has led to many discrepancies with regular Japanese schools which Chongryon calls discriminatory.
One of the issues is funding. The schools were originally set up and run with support from the North Korean government but this money has now dried up, and with dropping pupil numbers, many schools are facing financial difficulties. The Japanese government has refused Chongryon's requests that it fund ethnic schools in line with regular Japanese schools, citing Article 89 of the Japanese Constitution, where use of public funds for education by non-public bodies is prohibited. In reality the schools are in fact partly funded by local authorities, but subsidies takes place in the form of special benefits paid to the families of pupils, as opposed to paying the schools directly, in order to avoid a blatant breach of Article 89. It is also much less than regular Japanese schools.
Another issue is an examination called the High School Equivalency Test, or daiken, which qualifies those who have not graduated from a regular high school to apply for a place in a state university and take an entrance exam. Until recently, only those who have completed compulsory education (i.e. up to junior high school) were entitled to take daiken; this meant pupils of ethnic schools had to do extra courses before being allowed to take the exam. In 1999 the requirement was amended so that anyone over a certain age is qualified. Campaigners were not satisfied because this still meant graduates of non-Japanese high schools had to take daiken. In 2003, the Education Ministry removed the requirement to take the Equivalency Test from graduates of Chinese schools, Mindan-run Korean schools and international schools affiliated with Western nations and accredited by U.S. and British organizations. However, this did not apply to graduates of pro-Pyongyang Korean schools, saying it could not approve their curricula. The decision was left up to individual universities, 70% of which allowed Korean school graduates to apply directly.
 Legal alias
Registered aliens in Japan are allowed to adopt a registered alias (通称名 tsūshōmei ), often abbreviated to tsūmei (通名), lit. "common name", as their legal name. Traditionally, Zainichi Koreans have used Japanese-style names in public, but some Zainichi Koreans, including celebrities and professional athletes, use their original Korean names. Well-known ethnic Koreans who use Japanese names include Hanshin Tigers star Tomoaki Kanemoto, pro wrestlers Riki Chōshū and Akira Maeda, and controversial judoka and mixed martial artist Yoshihiro Akiyama.
During the Japan-Korea 2002 World Cup, a Mindan newspaper conducted a survey regarding their use. Fifty percent stated of those polled said that they always only use an alias while thirteen percent stated they use their original name. Thirty-three percent stated that they use both depending on the situation. In another survey, over 90% of ethnic Koreans in Japan have a Japanese sounding name in addition to a Korean one. 80 percent used their Japanese names when in Japanese company and 30.3 percent used it "almost exclusively".
 Controversies over Chongryon
For a long time, Chongryon enjoyed unofficial immunity from searches and investigations, partly because authorities were reluctant to carry out any actions which may provoke not only accusations of racism but lead to an international incident. Chongryon has long been suspected of a variety of criminal acts on behalf of North Korea, such as illegal transfer of funds to North Korea and espionage, but no action was taken. However, recent escalating tensions between and Japan and North Korea over a number of issues, namely North Korea's abduction of Japanese nationals which came to light in 2002 as well as its nuclear weapons program, has led to a resurgence of public animosity against Chongryon. Chongryon schools have alleged numerous cases of verbal abuse and physical violence directed against their students and buildings, and Chongryon facilities have been targets of protests and occasional incidents. The Japanese authorities have recently started to crack down on Chongryon, with investigations and arrests for charges ranging from tax evasion to espionage. These moves are usually criticized by Chongryon as acts of political suppression.
In December 2001, police raided Chongryon's Tokyo headquarters and related facilities to investigate Chongryon officials' suspected role in embezzlement of funds from the failed Tokyo Chogin credit union.
In 2002, Shotaro Tochigi, deputy head of the Public Security Investigation Agency told a session of the House of Representatives Financial Affairs Committee that the agency is investigating Chongryon for suspected illicit transfers of funds to the North. The image of Chongryon was further tarnished by North Korea's surprise 2002 admission that it had indeed abducted Japanese nationals in the 1970s, as it had been categorically and fiercely denying for many years that the abductions had ever taken place and dismissing rumors of North Korean involvement as an allegedly “racist fantasy.” Some of the recent drop in membership of Chongryon is thought to be attributed to ordinary members of Chongryon who had believed the party line feeling deeply humiliated and disillusioned upon discovering that they had been used as mouthpieces to deny the crimes of the North Korean government.
In March 2006, police raided six Chongryon-related facilities in an investigation into the circumstances surrounding the June 1980 disappearance of one of the alleged abductees, Tadaaki Hara. Police spokesman said that the head of Chongryon at the time is suspected of co-operating in his kidnapping.
The operation of the Mangyongbong-92 (currently suspended), a North Korean ferry that is the only regular direct link between North Korea and Japan, is a subject of significant tension, as the ferry is primarily used by Chongryon to send its members to North Korea and to supply North Korea with money and goods donated by the organization and its members. Although the humanitarian aspect of such contributions cannot be denied, particularly given that older Chongryon members have immediate family in North Korea, Chongryon members also continue to send lavish gifts, such as cash, expensive western liquor, and Japanese beef, to Kim Jong Il and other high-ranking North Korean officials.. In 2003, a North Korean defector made a statement to the US Senate committee stating that more than 90% of the parts used by North Korea to construct its missiles were brought from Japan aboard the ship.
In May 2006, Chongryon and the pro-South Mindan agreed to reconcile, only for the agreement to break down the following month due to Mindan's distrust of Chongryon. North Korea's missile tests in July 2006 have deepened the divide, with Chongryon refusing to condemn the missile tests, expressing only its regret that the Japanese government has suspended the operation of the Mangyongbong-92. Outraged senior Mindan officials joined mainstream Japanese politicians and media in sharply criticizing Chongryon's silence over the matter.
 See also
- Koreatowns in Japan
- Shinano River Incident
- Demographics of Japan
- Ethnic issues in Japan
- Korean-Japanese disputes
- Ryukyuan people
- Ainu people
- Yamato people
- List of Koreans in Japan
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- FM Spokesman Urges Japan to Stop Suppression of Chongryon.
- Gov't defends police raid on Chongryon head office (Japan Policy & Politics, December 3, 2001)
- CORRECTED: Pro-Pyongyang group rules out link to abduction (Asian Political News, November 18, 2002)
- Friday, April 7, 2006; Volume 02, Number 14 of the Japan Considered Podcast.
- N Korea ferry struggling against the tide (BBC News Online, June 9, 2003)
- FCCJ (The Foreign Correspondents' Club of Japan) Mr.Suganuma of former Public Security Investigation Agency tells it about Zainichi Korean (Japanese, English)
- South Korean Residents Union in Japan (Mindan) (Korean, Japanese, English)
- History of Mindan (English)
- Online Newspaper covering Zainichi Korean and Mindan (English)
- The Federation of Korean Associations, Japan (Korean, Japanese)
- North Korean Residents Union in Japan (Joseon Chongryon) (Korean, Japanese)
- The Han World - a site for Korean residents in Japan.
- The Self-Identities of Zainichi Koreans - a paper on Zainichi.
- MINTOHREN: Young Koreans Against Ethnic Discrimination in Japan
- Panel discussion in San Francisco Nichi Bei Times Article
- Testing Tolerance: Fallout from North Korea's Nuclear Program Hits Minorities in Japan article from The Common Language Project
- Japan Times: "Young 'Zainichi' Koreans look beyond Chongryon ideology"
- "From Korea to Kyoto; Chapter One of Community, Democracy, and Performance: the Urban Practice of Kyoto's Higashi-Kujo Madang
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