Saturday, December 19, 2009

"Men yell 'children of spies' at Korean school in Kyoto"

Story from Japan Today, 12/19/09:

A group of around 10 men yelled "children of spies" through a bullhorn at the main gate of a Korean elementary school in the city of Kyoto earlier this month, sources with knowledge of the matter said Friday. Around 170 children were at the school at the time. Regarding the act as a hate crime, the school will file a criminal complaint against the men with the Kyoto prefectural police next week, the sources said.

As the school was keeping some of its equipment in a municipal government-controlled park in front of its building, the group went to protest against "the illegal occupation," according to its leader, Makoto Sakurai.

Since the school does not have a schoolyard, it uses the park for gym classes. While the municipal government has allowed the school to use the park, the school and neighboring residents were expected to discuss the matter early next year.

Video footage shot by the school showed some of the men carrying the equipment and asking school officials to open the gate. The officials told the men, "This is a school," but they yelled, "This is not a school," and, "Let’s push Korean schools out of Japan."

They yelled a whole lot of other bad things as well, which can be seen/heard on the YouTube clip above. Here is some supporting text that goes along with the video:

In Japan, discrimination against the Korean minority who live in Japan since the colonial period is rampant. One can easily find abusive comments on Internet and some go as far as to threaten school children.

Kyoto Korean Primary School 1 does not have a school field and is using a park next to it for sports and assemblies.

The right wing activists accuse the school claimingly on behalf of the neighborhood and make protests by removing the speaker/platform and giving strong verbal insults.

While I am happy and surprised to see this story in the news (this kind of thing goes on way too often in Japan, usually unreported) I am saddened that this sort of thing still happens. Demonstrations are supposed to be about peace, not racism and hatred. I first heard of this about a week ago from Korean-Japanese friends in Kyoto. Not only were there students from the school behind the gates but students from 3 other Korean schools were visiting on a fieldtrip. And the group of "demonstrators" seems to be made up of the same people who demonstrated against the deaf Korean-Japanese court case (a group of deaf Korean-Japanese sued the government because they were not receiving social welfare benefits the same as other Japanese deaf people; the case went all the way to the supreme court where they lost - read more here.)

Let's hope for more media exposure and an end to this kind of racism/discrimination.

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