"Forced evictions" ordered by the court -2001.6.1- [English/Japanese]
On the Imminent Forced Eviction of Utoro in Japan -2000.5.2- [English/Japanese]
What's UTORO -1997.3- [English/Japanese]
NEW YORK TIMES -1993.3.1- [English/Japanese]
AN URGENT PLEA TO THE AMERICAN PEOPLE
FROM THE KOREAN RESIDENTS OF UTORO,JAPAN
Why does Nissan
want to destroy our homes?
UTORO, A VILLAGE BUILT ON HOPE
Utoro was born when japan 's military rulers forced fi many Korean laborers to build an airplane actory and airport south of Kyoto. After the war, the workers were abandoned. We had no homes, nojobs, and, for many, no way to return to Korea. But we endured, hewing a life out of a small corner of the base. We built homes and a school, raised our children, and created a community. As we scratched out a living, the Nissan plant which had produced warplanes began to make cars. It also continued to own the land around the base, including Utoro.
In 1987, without infonning the residents, Nissan cashed in on rising land prices and sold Utoro 's 5 acres to a developer. The developer sent demolition crews to destroy Utoro, but we refused to move. We have tried to talk to Nissan, but they ignore us. They, cannot ignore the American people who buy their cars and rely on their good name. They say, since they sold the land, they are not responsible. But they can 't avoid responsibility for what they have done to the people of Utoro. Mercedes Benz voluntarily gave 20 million DM to foreign workers used as forced labor during World War II. Surely, Nissan, with its vast assets, can afford a swall patch of land to help right an historic wrong.
Fifty years ago, on the eve of World War II in Korea, Japanese soldiers raped our mothers and took our fathers to Japan to labor in mines and factories. Thousands of other young Korean women were kidnapped or enticed into 'comfort battalions' and used by Imperial Army units. For the families of those victims, and the Koreans who now live in the village of Utoro in Japan, racial discrimination is a nightmare that never ends.
Four years ago, in the middle of winter, a developer came with eviction notices and demolition crews to destroy our homes. Nissan' - which profited from our labor during the war - had sold our village without telling us. Now Nissan refuses to talk to us.
A History Nissan
and the japanese Government
Want to lgnore
Even though we have lived in Utoro all our lives, Nissan and the Japanese government treat us as aliens. A rigid system of apartheid, Japanese style, denies us , the rights and privileges of Japanese citizens.
This is our story, the story of 80 families who raised their children and built a home in a barren corner of a hostile land. It is a story ofJapan, an industrial nation that claims to be a modern democracy but can't shed the vicious habits of a backward feudal power. It is a story of discrimination that touches everyone who isn't Japanese who lives in Japan.
Nearly 70% of all foreigners in Japan are Koreans, many of them brought as conscript laborers during World War II. After the war, abandoned by their employers without compensation and unable to find work in a country that viewed them as subhuman, our mothers and fathers came together to create a community in Utoro, to raise their families, build schools, and operate businesses. They tried to be good citizens of their adopted land.
Japanese officials responded by converting a wartime policy of cultural genocide into a peacetime system of apartheid. The goal never changed to suppress the ethnic identity (including their culture and language) of Korean and Chinese residents ofJapan. As soon as the American occupation ended, Korean and Taiwanese residents were stripped of what few rights they had and declared foreigners subject to the Alien Registration Law (ARL).
Aliens in the Land
Where We Were Born
Under the ARL, about 700,000 Koreans are still treated as aliens though most of us were born in Japan and have lived there all of our lives. We have to register with the Ministry ofJustice, be photographed, carry a computerized card identifying us as foreigners at all times and, as recently as this past January,be fingerprinted.
Becoming a naturalized citizen allows us to escape some ofJapan's institutionalized discrimination. But naturalization is itself a process rooted in racism.
Unlike other modern industrial democracies, Japan doesn't distinguish between citizenship, nationality, and ethnicity! It prizes racial purity and homogeneity! Naturalization requires total assimilation, the total destruction of our ethnic identity.
Though the law doesn't require it, administrative guidelines force applicants for naturalization to show proof of assimilation to demonstrate that we are sufficiently Japanese. To prove assimilation, we are pressured to take Japanese names, forced to speak only Japanese, and must demonstrate that we have adopted Japanese beliefs and customs.
Naturalization removes some legal barriers to equality, but it doesn't eliminate the social discrimination that afflicts those of us with Chinese or Korean blood. Our children are taunted at school and taught to revile their ethnic origins. Intermarriage is frowned upon. Employers regularly check the ethnic background of job applicants for evidence of non-Japanese ancestors.
Japanese-born Koreans, Chinese, and other non-Japanese residents suffer discrimination in every aspect of daily life.
- We are barred from becoming regular teachers in public schools and shut out from virtually every type of civil service or municipal job.
- Large corporations discriminate against Japanese-botn Koreans when hiring.
- Korean and Chinese businesses are relegated to the lowest level of Japan's elaborate network of corporate subcontractors.
- The Education Ministry censors textbooks to remove any reference to wartime atrocities in Asia. And because Korean schools cannot be accredited, graduates must pass special exams to enter Japanese universities.
- Landlords frequently refuse to rent to Koreans and Chinese.
- To obtain credit, Koreans and Chinese often need a Japanese guarantor.
- Korean residents are excluded from many social welfare and pension programs.
- Although Koreans have lived inJapan for generations and pay taxes, we have no voting rights.
Our Appeal to Nissan
and the Japanese Government
Recently, responding to protests by Korean and Chinese human rights organizations, the government ended the fingerprint requirements. These protests were supported by many sympathetic Japanese who opposed the way their government treats foreign residents.
We appreciate their help, and we are encouraged by the guowing number of Japanese joining our Association to Protect Utoro. "They believe that to protect Utoro is the Japanese people's responsibility," says Om Myong Bu, a second generation resident of Utoro. "We are not alone anymore."
The Japanese government need not stand alone either. Canada, the United States, and Germany have compensated innocent civilians who suffered as a result of their actions during the war. The people of Utoro ask only that we be accorded the rights and respect due to citizens who work hard, care for our families, and build a home.
Japan's leaders can now take the first diffrcult steps to address the problem of ethnic discrimination, but the road to full equality will be long and difficult. Nissan can show the way simply by talking to us. Surely,that is not too much to ask. Nissan has been a touchstone of corporate success in markets around the world. In its corporate brochure, Nissan Shatai states proudly,"A pleasant and decent life for everybody on Earth. This is our desire." This is its chance to establish a new standard of human decency at home.
Our Appeal to Americans
We, the people of Utoro, have no chance against such a large and powerful corporation as Nissan. And our appeals to the Japanese government have been ignored. Time is running out for us in our fight to keep our homes and our community together. The eviction process is under way For us everything is at stake. Wuhout our community to shelter our families from the pervasive racism and hostility, Iife, which for us has never been easy,would become intolerable. That is why we have taken the unprecedented step of appealing to fair-minded and caring people in America with this public statement. We have invested our life savings to ask you for your help. Because the American car market is so important to Nissan, your expression of suppiort can make a real difference. Please help us. The corporate leaders of Nissan will listen to you. Our last hope remains in your hands. Please send the coupons. Tell Nissan that we have suffered enough. Thankyou.
#Nissan Shatai is part of the gigantic Nissan conglomerate which includes Nissan Motor Company.In the text,"Nissan"refers to Nissan Shatai.
MOVEMENT TO PROTECT UTORO
|Mr Satoshi Uemura, President Nissan Shatai
c/o Nissan Motor Corporation in U.S.A.
18501 South Figueroa Street
Carson CA 90248
The Korean people of Utoro have suffered enough. It's time to recognize your historic responsibifity. Start by working to have the eviction proceedings against the people of Utoro cancelled. Negotiate in good taith so that tamilies of Utoro can stay together in their own community sheltered from the ethnic discrimination that still poisons their life in Japan. Failure to do so will destroy your reputation here as a good corporate citizen If the people ot Utoro are evicted, l'll never buy a Nissan and l'll urge my friends and family not to as well.
|Mr. Yoshifumi Tsuji, President
Nissan Motor Company
c/o Nissan Motor Corporation in U.S.A.
18501 South Figueroa Street
Carson CA 90248
The Korean people ot Utoro have suffered enough. It's time to recognize your historic responsibility and press Nissan Shatai to work to have the eviction proceedings against the people of Utoro cancelled and begin negotiating in good faith so that families of Utoro can stay together in their own community sheltered from the ethnic discrimination that still poisons their life in Japan. Failure to do so will destroy your reputation here as a good corporate citizen. If the people of Utoro are evicted, l'll never buy a Nissan and l'll urge my triends and family not to as well.
|Prime Minister Miyazawa
c/o Ambassador Kuriyama, Japanese Embassy
2520 Massachusetts Ave, NW, Washington, D.C 20008
It's time your government stopped promoting and tolerating ethnic injustices in Japan Ending your own discriminatory hiring practices, which set the tone foT prejudice elsewhere in society, would be a good place to start Supporting the struggles of groups like Utoro's Koreans and the victims of earlier government policies is another necessary step It's also time for Japan to follow the lead of Germany, the United States and Canada in officially recognizing injustices committed agajnst innocent civilians during World War ll. Failure to fully address these issues will east a dark shadow on Japan's efforts to be a global leader.
|Movement to Protect Utoro
466 Green Street San Francisco, CA 94133
Yes, I agree The people of Utoro have suffered enough. I support your fight to save your village from eviction and your efforts to protest the ethnic injustices suffered by all non-Japanese living in Japan. I have sent the coupons to the Japanese government and to Nissan demanding that they take immediate steps to address the pervasive and blatant discrimination against innocent people in Japan Please add your own message:
NEW YORK TIMES ---1993.3.1--- [Japanese]
PHOTO by Ogawa Shouhei