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Zainichi Korean authors laud progress in hate speech policy

Ushio Fukazawa
Shigeru Kinoshita

With a bill on hate speech policy set to be passed by the House of Councillors Judicial Affairs Committee on the afternoon of May 12, debate on the issue will shift to the House of Representatives -- and the likelihood of its enactment by the full national Diet during the current session is high.

Two Zainichi Korean authors who have written about the hate speech issue have accordingly pointed toward this social recognition regarding the damage that has been done -- as well as the political progress in this regard -- as constituting a ray of hope with respect to the issue.

Shigeru Kinoshita, 48, a resident of Yokohama who has South Korean citizenship, wrote a book titled "Mogura to kimuchi" (The Mole and Kimchi) that was released by Koubundo Publishers in July of last year.

The book begins with a scene whereby a middle-aged man encounters a hate speech demonstration. The story then switches generations to the 1960s and '70s, when the man was an elementary school boy who goes through an extremely difficult experience attempting to hide his Zainichi Korean identity after changing schools.

Utilizing a humorous touch, the story encourages readers to consider just what exactly discrimination is.

Kinoshita says that he came upon the idea for the story after witnessing a hate speech demonstration in 2013 in the Tokyo district of Okubo that targeted Zainichi Koreans.

While many books on the issues of hate speech and antiforeignism are specialized in nature, or recount distressing experiences, Kinoshita aimed instead to write something "that would be understandable even to children."

He commented with respect to the hate speech bill enactment process, "My feeling is, 'finally.'"

He added, "I plan to keep a close eye on how society changes following its passage."

Ushio Fukazawa, 49, a Zainichi Korean resident of Tokyo, put out a book in November of last year titled "Midori to aka" (Green and Red) that was published by Jitsugyo no Nihon Sha.

The book tells the story of a university student who had learned during high school that her mother is a South Korean national, and becomes overwhelmed when she encounters a hate speech demonstration.

"The targets of discrimination are flesh-and-blood human beings," commented Fukazawa, who herself has two children around the same age as the book's main character.

In describing her motivation for writing the book, she added, "I wanted people to understand that hate speech inflicts profound damage on both physical and mental levels."

The formal name of the draft legislation translates roughly into the "bill promoting efforts to be made toward resolving the problem of discriminatory speech and action toward non-Japanese individuals."

It states that the national and local governments have the obligation to implement policies that aim to eliminate unjust discrimination. However, it includes no penalties for failure to comply.

"The bill is certainly not sufficient," Fukazawa noted, "but it permits the shared social understanding that discrimination is unacceptable.

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