The Special Rapporteur on the human right to safe drinking water and sanitation, Catarina de Albuquerque visited Japan from 20-28 July 2010.The mission report (A/HRC/18/33/Add.3) was released July 2011. The Special Rapporteur noted continued discrimination of the Burakumin:

IV. Discrimination and exclusion

24. There has long been reluctance on the part of many in Japan, including the government, to recognize the country’s diversity in terms of wealth disparities, minority groups and other types of heterogeneity.14 While minority groups, such as new immigrants, Koreans, the Burakumin, and Ainu and Okinawan indigenous communities, receive greater recognition than in the past, they continue to face economic disadvantage and social exclusion.


The Special Rapporteur on contemporary forms of racism, Mr. Doudou Diène, visited Japan in 2005. The mission report (E/CN.4/2006/16/Add.2)was released in January 2006.


“The Special Rapporteur on contemporary forms of racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia and related intolerance, in pursuance of his mandate, visited Japan from 3 to 11 July 2005. He assessed the factors of discrimination that affect various minority groups, including minorities resulting from the caste-like class system, indigenous people, descendants of former Japanese colonies, foreigners and migrants workers.

The Special Rapporteur concludes that there is racial discrimination and xenophobia in Japan, and that it affects three circles of discriminated groups: the national minorities – the Buraku people, the Ainu and the people of Okinawa; people and descendants of former Japanese colonies – Koreans and Chinese; foreigners and migrants from other Asian countries and from the rest of the world. The manifestations of such discrimination are first of all of a social and economic nature. All surveys show that minorities live in a situation of marginalization in their access to education, employment, health, housing, etc. Secondly, the discrimination is of a political nature: the national minorities are invisible in State institutions. Finally, there is profound discrimination of a cultural and historical nature, which affects principally the national minorities and the descendents of former Japanese colonies. This is mainly reflected in the poor recognition and transmission of the history of those communities and in the perpetuation of the existing discriminatory image of those groups.”

On page 6, the SR refers directly to discrimination against the Buraku people:

The caste-like class system

“7. During the feudal era of the Edo (1603-1867), a caste-like class system based on social and professional belonging was established. The humble people (senmin) were assigned such duties as disposing of dead cattle, leather production, being executioners and performers. Placed at the bottom of the system, they were designated as eta (extreme filth) and hinin (non-humans). In the late nineteenth century, the system was abolished, but a new class system was established, which again placed the most humble class (the Buraku, from the name of their district) at the bottom of the system. In the 1960s, following the claims of the Buraku Liberation League (BLL), the Government recognized the deep discrimination suffered by the Buraku people and adopted special measures to improve their living conditions.”


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