Because of the rising incidents of racism against Koreans in Japan, 54-year-old South Korean Shin Su-gok has started a new organization to fight discrimination. Shin is a third-generation Tokyo-born South Korean working as a personnel training consultant, and is concerned at the rising incidents of hate and racism, particularly against her people, in Japan.
And so Shin, along with Japanese author Kei Nakazawa, one of the victims of the 1994 Matsumoto sarin attack Yoshiyuki Kono, and 18 others have come together to serve as joint representatives for the group, Hate Speech to Racism o Norikoeru Kokusai Network (“international network to overcome hate speech and racism”). “We mustn’t be silent in the face of hatemongering,” Shin said. Over two months have passed since the founding of the new anti-hate speech and racism organization in Tokyo’s Okubo district. Around 500 people have expressed their support for the group, and it has opened a volunteer-funded television station. It also broadcasts human rights seminars and debate programs on the Internet. The organization plans to start a “white ribbon campaign” from the beginning of next year, where people will tie white ribbons on each other to overcome discrimination and spread a spirit of peace.
“Since the collapse of the economic bubble, there has been an expansion in wealth gaps and emphasis on ability. People’s frustrations (stemming from those things) have been directed into minority bashing,” says Shin. She recalls that her father made his way to a private university’s law department while working on the side, but gave up on becoming a lawyer due to a requirement to be a Japanese citizen. Her family had for years gone by the Japanese last name “Niiyama,” but Shin used her real last name at work, and after freelancing at age 24 decided she would live by her Korean name from then on. “Through interacting with others and gaining knowledge, people definitely change. I’d like to make a society with neither perpetrators nor victims,” she says.
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