Saturday, October 21, 2006

The Koreans of Japan

North Korea launched its nuclear tests on October 9th. I’m perplexed as to why President Bush and his entourage of administrators didn’t prevent this from happening, especially after all the trouble they took to invade Iraq so that the world would not fall victim to Iraq’s “weapons of mass destruction.” Did they invade the wrong country? And let’s not forget about all those people who died in Iraq.

And about Ms. Condoleezza Rice’s trip to Japan. “She said her mission was intended in part to reassure South Korea and Japan they had no need to develop a nuclear deterrent of their own in response to the North’s weapon program ”(Quoted from Tokyo, Wednesday, Reuters). I wonder if she’ll succeed in convincing Japan, especially since some Japanese and Koreans are not too crazy about each other.

Read on to find out why.

Koreans in Japan suffer the same fate as dominated groups in the United States. In Yongsook Lee’s words, most Japanese “despise Koreans.” Korea became a colony of Japan in 1910. Large-scale immigration of Koreans into Japan started in 1922 when Japanese Industrialists recruited them for their expanding economy.

The resentment of Japanese toward these Korean laborers was expressed in the 1923 massacre of between 4,500 and 20,000 Koreans. During World War II, the government forced 2 million Koreans to come to Japan as laborers and military conscripts. Japanese colonial control of Korea ended with the conclusion of World War II.

Today, Koreans in Japan are discriminated against in employment, and they are not eligible for pensions, insurance, and public housing. They cannot be hired by national and local governments, public schools, and universities. Naturalization has provided legal citizenship but not social equality. Applications for jobs, schools or membership in any group requires a copy of one’s family registration.

Korean school graduates face barriers at every level of employment. In school, Koreans experience overt and covert discrimination. Many private schools will not admit Koreans. Some public schools will only admit Koreans if they take a pledge “not to disturb school order.” Japanese textbooks present a negative image of Korean history and culture.

(Quoted from, The Intersection of Cultures by Joel Spring)



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