Discrimination still abounds in Japan

Figures released in 2017 indicated that, statistically, Japan’s population is not just continuing to age, but they are accelerating. Alarmingly, yearly births fell under 1 million which is a record low, while deaths reached a record high.


Japan’s secondary schools have a degree of uniformity that prevents diversity. And this trend reached its conclusion with the news that more than one school was forcing children with natural hair color that’s anything but black to dye them or be denied entry and summarily removed from the register altogether.


Photo credit to: https://www.nippon.com


On October 2017, a student filed suit against Osaka Prefecture for mental abuse. She claims that Kaifukan High School forced her to dye her naturally brown hair to black, otherwise, she wouldn’t be permitted inside. When the color wasn’t sufficiently black, she was hence blocked from entering a festival and summarily terminated from the school register.


The school justified this by saying that even a blond-haired foreign exchange student dyed her hair black. This lawsuit will signal whether Japan will change it’s strict rules to allow diverse students or simply not take them in. At least one student is standing up for herself.


In 2016, a hate speech law was passed that allowed free speech for foreign students. This hate speech law is not legislation with criminal penalties against racial discrimination. And it still assumes that noncitizens need special protection, incurring accusations of favoritism and “reverse discrimination.


Radical language has been toned down and permission for hate groups to use public venues were denied, sparking outrage. Nevertheless, according to the Mainichi, haters have been chastened. A report quotes several hate rally attendees as saying that before the law change they felt like anything they had said was protected by the shield of so called “freedom of speech”. It felt safe because they knew the police officers would protect us. It felt like we had the upper hand.” Not anymore since the law changed.


Reference: In 2017, Japan woke up to the issue of discrimination


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