Buraku Liberation League

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The Ex-Headquarters of Buraku Liberation League

The Buraku Liberation League (部落解放同盟 Buraku Kaihō Dōmei?) is one of the burakumin's rights groups in Japan. Buraku are members of diverse social groups, descendants of outcast communities of the Japanese feudal era.


Pre-WW2 period[edit]

The origin of the Buraku Liberation League is the National Levelers Association (全国水平社 Zenkoku Suiheisha?), founded in 1922. However, in 1942, some of the leading activists, including Asada Zennosuke (朝田善之助), were recruited into the military. The National Levelers Association disbanded in the same year.

Post-WW2 period[edit]

In 1946, the ex-members of the National Levelers Association formed the Buraku Liberation National Committee (部落解放全国委員会 Buraku Kaihō Zenkoku Iinkai?). In 1955, it was renamed the Buraku Liberation League (BLL).

In 1966, one of the leaders, Jiichirō Matsumoto (松本治一郎 Matsumoto Jiichirō?), died. Around the same time, the BLL purged the members who were against the leaders' decision that the subsidy to the burakumin should be limited to the BLL members only (There are many burakumin who do not join the BLL). Asada played a major role in this purge. Thus, the ex-members of the BLL formed the Buraku Liberation League Normalization National Liaison Conference (部落解放同盟正常化全国連絡会議 Seijōkaren Buraku Kaihō Dōmei Seijōka Zenkoku Renraku Kaigi?) in 1970. This was the predecessor of the All Japan Federation of Buraku Liberation Movement (全国部落解放運動連合会 Zenkairen Zenkoku Buraku Kaihō Undō Rengōkai?).


The Buraku Liberation League is considered one of the most militant among burakumin's rights groups.[citation needed] The BLL is known for its fierce "denunciation and explanation sessions", where alleged perpetrators of discriminatory actions or speech are summoned for a public hearing before a panel of activists.[citation needed] Early sessions were marked by occasions of violence and kidnapping, and several BLL activists have been arrested for such acts.[citation needed] The legality of these sessions is still disputed, but to this date authorities have turned a blind eye to them for the most part, except in the more extreme cases.[citation needed]

In 1990, Karel van Wolferen's criticism of the BLL in his much-acclaimed[by whom?] book The Enigma of Japanese Power prompted the BLL to demand the publisher halt publication of the Japanese translation of the book.

The other major buraku activist group is the All Japan Federation of Buraku Liberation Movements, which is affiliated with the Japanese Communist Party (JCP). The Zenkairen often came head-to-head with the BLL, accusing them of chauvinism. The bickering between the two organisations boiled over in 1974 when what the local branch of the BLL kidnapped the faculty of a high school in Yoka (rural Hyōgo Prefecture), tortured them for 13 hours, and put 29 in hospital.

In 1988, the BLL formed the International Movement Against All Forms of Discrimination and Racism (IMADR). The BLL sought for the IMADR to be recognized as a United Nations non-governmental organization; but, in 1991, the Zenkairen informed the United Nations about the alleged crimes the BLL had committed. However, when suspected cases of discrimination were uncovered, the Zenkairen often conducted denunciation sessions as fierce as those of the BLL.

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