Kyoto is home to roughly 30,000 long-term Korean residents, known in Japanese as "zainichi."
Per capita Kyoto has the second highest number of Koreans in Japan. Osaka is first and neighboring Hyogo Prefecture third, making western Japan home to the largest concentration of Koreans.
The overwhelming majority are third, fourth, or fifth generation who were born and raised in Japan and have never lived anywhere else. Though their roots are in the Korean peninsula, culturally and linguistically they cannot be distinguished from their Japanese neighbors.
Their ancestors were forcibly brought to Japan by the Japanese Imperial Army in the pre-War period in the 1930s to work in factories. After the War, many stayed on.
Though more and more young people are taking Japanese nationality, they remain the largest group of non-Japanese resident in Japan. There are still more than half a million zainichi Koreans in Japan.
With the exception of those who attend Korean schools - similar to parochial schools in the US - where much of the curriculum is taught in Korean, many (most?) Koreans in Japan do not speak Korean.
However, Koreans remain a favorite target of the racist far right.
With territorial disputes between Japan and South Korea - and worse with North Korea - as a backdrop, rightists have recently paraded in areas that are heavily Korean screaming hate speech at residents and shop owners. Tokyo's Shinokubo, Osaka's Tsuruhashi, and Kyoto's Minami (south) have all witnessed trouble.
At a school for ethnic Koreans in south Kyoto, rightists known as Zaitokukai have been demonstrating near the school, mainly they claim as a protest against special permanent residence (like an American green card) that Koreans are accorded. The protestors screamed "cockroaches!" "Get out of Japan!" and more.
However, a Kyoto court on Monday recently banned such demonstrations as "hate speech," as racist behavior targeting a particular group - which it most certainly is - and terrifying the children and teachers at the school. Moreover, the Zaitokukai has been ordered to pay 12 million (USD $120,000) in damages.
Well done, Kyoto.
Tags Japan Touring Kyoto Cycle Japanese